Images are a great way to complement the information you are trying to communicate on your website, blog or social media. Lets face it, humans are visual creatures and we like looking at pictures. A compelling photo can tell your story better and increase the likelihood of someone sharing your content. But you might not know how to find free images for your website or other marketing.
Nearly every image created is protected by copyright. If you take a photo yourself you automatically own the rights to use or reproduce that image however you want. But if you want to use someone else’s photo you will need to use a public domain image or make sure that the image is covered by a licence that allows use for your purpose. There are many places now where you can get images for free to use for your next blog or post.
Finding free images is not as simple as searching on Google for the image you want and saving it. Getting images this way is a big no-no as you will most likely be breaching copyright. Photo sharing sites are website that allow people to share their photos and created images for other users to download. These can either be public domain images, which you are free to use in any way, or via a licence, which may mean you are restricted in some ways of using the image, or need to provide attribution.
Websites to find free images for your website and marketing
If you are wondering how to find free images for your website, blogs, marketing or products, here are some of the photo sharing websites available. Keep in mind you may not have as great a selection of images than if you were going to a paid site. To give you a bit of a showcase of what sort of images they have available we’ve searched for the term ‘working from home’ on each of them (something dear to our heart and probably a common search term in the past year).
Unsplash has a licence that gives you the ability to download their pictures for free and can be used for commercial and non commercial purposes. You do not have to give attribution but it is appreciated. Their licence details can be found here.
You can use the images found on Pexels for free without attribution. Their licence is fairly broad and you can use the for your website, social media, marketing materials and more. Pretty much the only thing you can’t do is sell the original pictures.
Canva is an online design tool. They have a free account which also gives you access to thousands of free photos and images. The beauty of Canva is that you can also edit the images and create great social media graphics straight away.
PicJumbo is a site created by a Czech photographer and most of the photos on the site are his. Because of this he lets you use the photoes in a number of ways including websites, social media, publications etc. They also have a premium membership that gives you access to extra photos.
StockSnap gives you a Creative Commons CC0 licence on their photos. This means you’re free to use and edit it how you’d like without attribution, but like all of the free images, you also need to ensure what is in the photo is also free of any copyright rules. You can get access to their licence details here.
Kaboompics allows both commercial and non commercial use without attributions. There full licencing information is here but they allow most things. The photos come from the photographer who created the website so there’s no risk of finding photos you can’t use for commercial purposes.
Gratisography has a small collection, but some quite unique photos and vectors. Their licence allows you to do most things, as long as you’re not redistributing the photo. We didn’t find any photos on work from home, but I did like a couple of their vectors for a few other projects.
Flickr is a photo management and sharing tool that allows you to also search for photos people have put up under licence. The easiest way to do this is to search for your term and then under the licence term in the search results choose ‘commercial use & mods allowed’. Because it’s essentially a photo sharing platform rather than for finding commercial photos it can be time-consuming to search for great photos. You will also need to check the licence for the photo you want to use because they all vary and you want to make sure you are using the photo you want legally.
WOC In Tech Chat
WOC in Tech Chat is an album on Flickr dedicated to photos of women of colour in technology. They allow you to use the photos with attribution which means you have to acknowledge WOC in Tech Chat when using the photo.
Create Her Stock
Create Her Stock is a stock photo site primarily focusing on women of colour. Their photos are available on their licence as editorial and non-commercial advertising which means you can’t use them to create products, but can use them on your website / blog etc. They also have a premium subscription to get access to all of their images.
Burst is a part of Shopify and gives you access to free photos for websites and commercial use. Their licence is the same as the CC0 so you can use the photos for commercial purposes without attribution.
New Old Stock
New Old Stock is a photo site with vintage photos from public archives. They don’t have a search function so you have to browse but there are some great photos there, even if you just want to look through for nostalgia.
FancyCrave doesn’t have a search function, but is divided into photo packs with different themes. They also don’t seem to have any visible licencing information.
Our search of ‘working from home’ didn’t yield any results which I thought was odd, so their search function may not be great, or the photographers aren’t putting in the right keywords.
Image licencing terms you should know
When looking for free images you can use for your website or marketing, there are a few licencing terms and restrictions you should become familiar with. These licences can determine where and what you can use the image for legally, so it’s important to make sure you are checking the licence that comes with the image. Whatever site you use, make sure you check the licencing arrangements and terms and conditions they have in place and don’t just assume all photo sites are the same.
It’s important to remember that any licence gives you the right to use the image a certain way, it does not give you ownership of the image or the copyright.
Non commercial use of an image gives you the licence to use it for personal or editorial reasons. This generally encompasses things you are not going to gain monetary value for. Anything that will not be marketed, promoted or sold for money can fall under non commercial use such as presentations, research papers or personal projects.
Commercial use covers using the image in marketing and promotion of a product that is going to give you a monetary gain. If you are using the image to promote a product, or in the product itself, that is being sold this is considered commercial use. If you are using an image on your website, and you are selling anything at all on that site, you are better off getting a licence that allows for commercial use of that image because even a blog on your website could be considered a promotion of products you are selling.
A licence granted use for commercial uses may also have further restrictions, such as a limit on the amount of printing and products the image can be used for before charging additional fees.
Creative Commons is a non profit organisations that has created a licencing system used by many creative websites that allow sharing and downloading of images. It was created as a way to standardise copyright permissions. There are many levels of a creative commons licence and they all allow differing levels of permissions so it is important to check that if a creative commons licence is being used, what type it is.
Public domain means that the images are free from copyrights, due to it expiring, having been forfeited or is inapplicable. It’s important to remember that just because someone puts an image on the internet, does not make it a public domain image and copyright still applies unless otherwise stated.
Some licences allow the owner of the image to charge a fee or royalty every time you use the image. With a royalty free image, you do not need to pay each time you use the image. If you see the term royalty free that doesn’t mean that the image is available free to use, as there is generally an initial cost for the image licence, it just means you do not need to pay an ongoing fee for use. You will also need to look at whether the licence gives you commercial or non-commercial use of the image. Commercial use for products for royalty free images often has a higher fee.
And if you’re looking for other resources that could help your with your website or business be sure to check out out blog on Resources For Business.