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 – 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: Be sure to read the descriptions for the various licenses & follow the rules for each. For more information about Creative Commons please visit:

Compfight: 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:

rgbstock – Free stock photos: (Hint: Check the “popular” category)

Free Stock Photographs:

govWatch – The Best Copyright Free Photo Libraries: govWatch Website


Good Free Photos:

Kris Krug Flickr: – 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:


Photo Pin:


Wikipedia Public Domain Image Resources


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

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

stockfresh: (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):

Dreamstime: They also offer some free photos:

iStock Photo: (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: 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


Big Stock:


All Canada Photos:

Foto Search:

Vector art (professional illustrations):

I LOVE! 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:

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: – 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: – 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: – 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: 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: – 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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