Where to Find FREE and Affordable Stock Photos to Use on Your Website or Blog

Where to Find FREE and Affordable Stock Photos to Use on Your Website or Blog

Free and affordable photo websites & resources:

Resource List of Free and Affordable Photos You Can Legally Use On Your Website or Blog

This is an original photo that has been “Instagrammed”, with text overlayed using PicMonkey.com – online photo enhancing site.

Are you new to blogging or building a website and you need some photos to use on your pages or blog posts? Did you know you CAN NOT just grab photos from Google images? You can be sued for copyright infringement and end up having to pay thousands of dollars the the rightful owner of the image(s). Some great articles for reference:  The Best Way to Be Sure You’re Legally Using Online Photos and How using Google Images can cost you $8,000. So where can you find FREE or affordable photos you can actually use?

In a nutshell: You can use your own original photos, use photos that are legally available online, or purchase royalty-free stock photos – which means you pay one time for legal use of the image – but then you have the right to use in your marketing materials or on your website. Another option: If you like a photo you see – ask the person who owns it if you can use it. They might say yes ; ) P.S. Ladybug photo credit: Thank you to Victoria BC Gardening Design Consultant Pamela Pack for allowing me to use her lovely photo (top of this post)!

Disclaimer: I have no legal training or experience. If you would like professional advice on the legal use of photos online or copyright infringement please consult an attorney.

With free options you have to spend more time searching for images & the selection is not quite as good as paid stock photos – but they’re free! So you have to decide if you want to spend time or money on this. Here are some sites to try:

Free photo options:

Flickr Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons Be sure to read the descriptions for the various licenses & follow the rules for each. For more information about Creative Commons please visit: http://creativecommons.org

Compfight: http://compfight.com This site makes it easier to search for photos on Flickr that have a Creative Commons license (i.e. you can use it if you give the photo owner credit). When you get the to home page – put your keywords in the search box. Then once the search appears you will see some paid stock photo results at the top – look at the photos below the dotted line and make sure you have clicked the “Creative Commons” filter on the sidebar on the left (see screen shot below).

Compfight website for free stock photos

Morgue File: http://www.morguefile.com/

rgbstock – Free stock photos: http://www.rgbstock.com/ (Hint: Check the “popular” category)

Free Stock Photographs: http://free-images-etc.rb-d.com/

govWatch – The Best Copyright Free Photo Libraries: govWatch Website

Stock.XCHNG: http://sxc.hu/

Good Free Photos: http://www.goodfreephotos.com/

Kris Krug Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ – free use for non-profit & schools

Kris Krug is a super cool guy – check out his presentation from Social Media Camp Victoria 2012: Kris Krug Keynote Video

A few more resources from social media expert Beth Kanter:

Unsplash: http://unsplash.com/

Photo Pin: http://photopin.com/

Pixabay: http://pixabay.com/

Wikipedia Public Domain Image Resources

 

Affordable Photo Options – Paid Stock Photos (royalty free – pay only once):

Deposit Photos: http://depositphotos.com/ (more affordable $1-$6 each for XS thru L size photos – minimum purchase $50 USD worth of credits)

stockfresh: http://stockfresh.com/ (more affordable $1-$5 each for XS thru L size photos – minimum purchase is $5 USD worth of credits – the more credits you buy = more of a discount)

GraphicStock offers 7 days of free image downloads (maximum 20 images/day): https://www.graphicstock.com/freeimages/

Dreamstime: http://www.dreamstime.com/ They also offer some free photos: http://www.dreamstime.com/free-photos

iStock Photo: http://www.istockphoto.com/ (more expensive but great variety)

Hot Tip: iStock offers one free stock photo each week – you will need to sign up for a free account to access – which includes providing your name, address & telephone number. You need to log in and complete this information in your profile in order to access. Keep an eye on this week’s free photo & download if you think you could use it in future: http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/13454712#1959505f Note: Past photos are no longer available free. The most current photo in the top left hand corner of this search will be the photo offered this week. If this link doesn’t work you can also go the the home page & look in the sidebar for the link to the free photo of the week (see below).

Free itock photo of the week

Shutterstock: http://www.shutterstock.com/

Big Stock: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/

123RF: http://www.123rf.com/

All Canada Photos: http://allcanadaphotos.com/

Foto Search: http://www.fotosearch.ca/

Vector art (professional illustrations): http://www.vectorstock.com/

I LOVE VectorStock.com! They have tons of cool graphics you can use to jazz up your website (i.e. call to action buttons), or use for presentations, eBooks, etc. The minumum purchase is $25 USD – most vector images will cost you 1 credit or $1 USD. Vector images could be described as sophisticated cartoons ; )

Hot Tip: Vector Stock offers a selection of free images: http://www.vectorstock.com/free-vectors

Here’s an example (below) of one of the many images I have purchased from Vector Stock:

Graphic from Vector Stock website

 

Online Photo Sites To Enhance Your Photos – For Desktop:

You know how you see those photos all over social media sites with great inspirational quotes or helpful business tips? How do you create them? Or how do you simply add a watermark with your website address? Here are some sites you can use from your computer for free that are web-based – so don’t need to install software on your computer):

PicMonkey: http://www.picmonkey.com/ – Super cool & easy to use – can overlay beautiful text on your photos – See the ocean/boat photo at the top right of this post. You get a ton of features with the free version but can also upgrade to get more cool features for $4.99/month or $33/year.

Here’s a helpful “how to” tutorial video for PicMonkey:

 

Pixlr: http://pixlr.com/ – This one is a bit harder to figure out – but allowed me to do more than PicMonkey (i.e. I could layer multiple pics into an image). You can also save created images in their file format (pxd file) and then upload them later if you want to edit. Wahoo for us non-graphic designer types! In order to do this you will need to sign up for a free account, be logged in & save the file in the correct format to your computer. It also allows you to save images to your computer as jpg or png files (best quality). Here’s an image (below) that I created using the free Pixlr editor.

JUHLi SELBy Social Media - Social Media Success for Small Business Podcast Cover

 

Canva: https://www.canva.com/ – Very cool – with tons of design templates – most of which are free to use. You can use their designs, change the words, add text overlay, or you can upload your own photos into their great designs. So much fun!

You’ll find some tutorial videos on their YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/canvadesign/videos Just pay attention to which ones are the free backgrounds vs. paid backgrounds ($1 each). It won’t let you download the image file to your computer if you have designed it with a paid background – you will need to pay first. If you have used all free elements (it’s clearly marked if there is a cost) – you can download in a png format.

Here’s an image I whipped up in a few minutes on Canva (and this does not do it justice at all):

JUHLi SELBy Social Media - Event Speaker in Victoria BC

 

Smartphone Apps To Enhance or Create Images on the Go:

Here are some apps you can add to your smartphone to create images you can legally use on social media or on your own website/blog:

If you have an iPhone there’s a cool app call Over: www.madewithover.com – It will allow you to overlay beautiful text & simple graphics to your photos. I keep asking them when the app will be available for Android… ; )

In the meantime I have been using a super cool app called Instaquote that is very similar. You will find it here: Instaquote for Android – free & Instaquote for iPhone – free & $2.99 Pro version.

I love love LOVE this app! You can overlay beautiful text on your own photos with your smartphone on the go.

Instaquote sample - Wisdom comes from reflection        Instaquote sample - Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies quote

 

Instaquote sample - Social Media Camp 2013        Instaquote sample - I love Thai food

I used my original photos & the PicFrame app to create the photo collages above first, and then used Instaquote to add the text overlay.  Unfortunately they no longer have free backgrounds available (like the ones you see just below) – but they do have super affordable background packs you can buy to overlay your quotes if you don’t have photos you can use.

Sample of Instaquote - A dream is a wish the heart makes 1         Instaquote sample - A dream is a wish the heart makes2

Here’s an example (below) of the very affordable background packs (only $1 each) – this Nature pack includes 30 beautiful backgrounds! Insert amazing inspirational quote on top and you’re ready to rock!

Instaquote background packs - Jan 2014

Do you have feedback on any of the above websites or apps? Do you have other great resources you love that I haven’t mentioned? Please share in the comment section down below!

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About the Author:

JUHLi SELBy is a Social Media Consultant and Coach based in Victoria BC, Canada. She has spent the past 15 years helping self-employed professionals and small business owners use marketing tools to connect with and expand their audience. She shows clients how to use social media marketing effectively – to build relationships online that will lead to sales.

She enjoys connecting with great people, learning, travel, smartphone photography and spending time with her adorable but slightly naughty wiener dogs.

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Indira : )

  2. Indira at

    Check this website for free photos. It was very easy, just hit download: http://affordablephotograph.com

  3. I’m so happy you found this resource helpful. THANK YOU very much for your kind words Ramona ; ) Right back at cha!

  4. Ramona at

    Juhli, you make a wonderful contribution to the world with what you DO: educating people about social media, but mostly by being WHO YOU ARE! Thank you. 🙂

  5. Hello Bob – Thank you for sharing. It looks like there are some good photos there ; )

  6. Bob at

    You can add http://www.goodfreephotos.com , thousands of free photos of state and national parks as well as city views and other things

  7. Thank you for your comment Austin – I had not heard of anyone who had a problem using a photo from one of these free stock photo sites. I agree the only way to be 100% safe is to use your own photos or buy stock photos. With that said I know not everyone can afford to buy stock photos (or consult an attorney for that matter).

  8. Austin at

    I do advise people to be careful when using these free sites. I had a friend who had a client send her an image from Stock.XCHNG to use on her site. About six months later, she received a letter from the attorneys at Getty Images. Apparently, this was one of their images. Not sure, what she ended up paying them, but they initially asked for $200,000. She did have to get a lawyer as the letters and threats kept coming.

    The site owner is responsible for all copyrighted content (text, video, images) used on their site.

  9. Thank you for sharing Jay! I have checked out your site and have added it to my list : )

  10. Why not add http://www.rgbstock.com to your great list? Rgbstock has more then 87,000 free stock photos on line. Thanks!

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