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Whether you’re blogging for yourself or a client, I’m sure you know the importance of images.
On a high level, gorgeous photos help bring your blog’s brand to life. Photos also break up text, making your content skimmable and shareable.
But where to find these photos? Image licensing is a tricky beast and stock photos are expensive.
So we’ve done some of the work for you. Below, a curated list of our favorite places to find free images for your blog posts.
Note: Every website has their own licensing rules, so check before using photos. If you want to change an image or use it commercially, different rules may apply. You’ll also need to double-check whether you need to attribute the photos you select — it’s always a good idea to give credit where it’s due!
Death to the Stock Photo (DTS) is a free email newsletter sharing monthly original, professional photo packs. Images are free to use and edit. Photos have a specific style — think hipster coffee shop meets Portland hiking — but are simple enough to use in a variety of ways.
DTS is my favorite place to find photos to pair with blog posts. Every photograph is gorgeous and high quality. I download each pack straight to my computer and use my own tagging system. Since most of my blog imagery contains graphics, I don’t need a specific photo (i.e. an apple on a wooden table). DTS gives me ideas for images I might never have thought of, and it’s all in one, curated place.
Here’s a great “plain english” version of the DTS license.
Flickr is one of the largest photo-management apps in the world. You can store your own shots or share them with the world. Thousands of photographers on Flickr allow free use of their work.
Search for anything you want, from “cat napping on a tree” to “writer in a cafe.” After searching, click on the “Any license” tab and choose “Creative Commons.” If you want to change the image or use it commercially, select the appropriate license from there.
To be safe, I always link back to the photographer’s website or Flickr portfolio. If you’re averse to linking out, just select “no known copyright restrictions”.
Flickr groups can help you find photos, too. Free Use Photos, for example, has more than 4,000 members and almost 8,000 photos available for free.
Unsplash is run by freelance design marketplace Crew. It’s like Death to Stock in that it releases collections every 10 days to use as you wish. The difference is all photos are available online, so you don’t have to sign up to receive or download folders of images.
Photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero. This means you can “copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.”
Browse Made with Unsplash for inspiration.
Here’s another site that allows you to search for exactly what you want. It adds 20 photos per week and you can search and sort by category, copy space position and color. Negative Space is particularly helpful for designers and anyone making social media graphics.
You can also buy premium photos in themed packs. You “pay what you want,” and the company gives 50 percent of sales to charity.
Photos released on Negative Space have no copyright restrictions.
If you’re looking for free photos, StockSnap is the easiest site to navigate. It offers hundreds of images and adds more every week. All photos are free from copyright restrictions and attribution isn’t required.
StockSnap also offers many different ways to explore available photos. Its “trending” and “views” section show what’s popular, or you can sort by date to see what’s new.
Photo quality is mixed (I found a lot of weird filters), but the selection is extensive.
Looking for unique and whimsical photos? Photographer Ryan McGuire of Bells Design should be your new go-to resource. His personal tagline is “Art that makes you smile.”
Some photos feel a little stylized, but you definitely won’t find photos like these on iStock. They’re free, high-resolution and free of copyright restrictions.
Web designer Daniel Nanescu created SplitShire “With the simple aim of giving life to photographs that would have gone into oblivion without any utility.”
SplitShire offers free stock photos for commercial use. Browse its photo collections if you’re looking for something specific, like the ocean or dogs. Save time and buy the entire 500-image library at once for $9.60.
8. Life of Pix
Montreal creative agency LEEROY created Life of Pix with its impressive network of photographers. It organized photos into galleries like “animals”, “people” and “textures.” New high-resolution photos are added weekly, without copyright restrictions.
For more than just photos, Ancestry Images offers historical prints and maps. If you’re a history or genealogy buff, or a local blogger, this site offers resources beyond your typical stock photo.
Search is rudimentary, but a quick test brought up a dozen images from my home state in the 1800s.
You’re welcome to use any of this site’s images for non-commercial purposes, as long as you credit Ancestry Images.
Organized by location, BigFoto is perfect for travel bloggers. If your recent trip resulted in grainy photos, use BigFoto to download images of almost any attraction. BigFoto uses photos by amateurs, but they’re high quality and well-organized.
Photos are free to use, even for commercial purposes. The site asks for a link back to BigFoto.
Don’t just stop at downloading free blog images. Use Canva to create shareable imagery on social media. The site offers templates for everything from Pinterest to Google Ads. Add text, your logo, icons and more. Graphics take up more social media real estate, bring your brand to life and encourage clicks.
Have you found free-use photos in unexpected places? Where did you find them?