11 Places to Get a Free and Legal Photo for Your Blog

dont go to jail

Searching for the right photo for your blog post or website can be a pain. A legal photo can be hard to find. After writing a post, the last thing any of us wants to do is flip through endless pages of expensive stock photos.

It’s so much easier to Google the term and “borrow” one of the images that comes up as a search result. Too bad that’s illegal.

Yes, illegal.

As in, you will face serious fines for “borrowing” images.

The bottom line is if you can’t afford a stock photo, you certainly can’t afford the fine that comes from stealing one.click to tweet. 

You need to get a legal photo.

For the writer on a budget, there are plenty of other options that will provide you with a legal photo without breaking the bank. Here are 11 sites that I’ve found. If you know of any others, please share them in the comment section!

1. Every Stock Photo

Get access to over 16 million free photos, coming from places like NASA and the Library of Congress. If you need a photo, try this place first. There are different license options so pay attention to the one you end up with.

2. Stock.xchng

Stock Exchange is one of the most popular places on the internet to download royalty-free images. There are almost 400,000 images to choose from. Pay close attention when you surf for pictures, as some of the results may come from other sites where you have to pay for the images. If you want to pay for a photo, go ahead! Just don’t accidentally steal one.

3. Historical Stock Photos

If you need a historical picture for your personal website or an email, this is the place to find everything from Rosie the Riveter to war-time posters of Uncle Sam. If you write historical fiction, especially American-centric historical fiction, this site can be an excellent resource in your search for appropriate images.

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4. Free Pixels

This isn’t a large site, not by a long shot, but it does have quality images that you can use. If you need a legal photo of nature, there are over 1,000 beautiful shots waiting to be discovered. Don’t get fined for stealing a photo of Yosemite when you can get a legal one easily.

5. Public Domain Photos

With 5,000 free photos, this site has a nice selection to choose from. The nature section is worth checking out as it has many images of the National Parks and other places around the world. Again, make sure you stay on the site as some links lead to images you must pay for.

6. Morgue File

This site is billed as “public images for creatives by creatives.” The tagline does not disappoint or oversell. There are some incredibly beautiful photos on this site, most of them nature-themed. Download and credit them accordingly.

7. Stock Vault

If you want an aesthetically-pleasing legal photo, the chances are you will be able to find one that suits your purpose on this site. This is another site that does advertise content that you must pay for, so click carefully!

8. Image * After

Unlike other sites, this image site focuses on textures and images of common household items. If you have any sort of photo editing skills, or are simply looking for a background for your website, this site will not disappoint. Browse through thousands of images and then download the one (or ten) you love, for free!

9. Ancestry Images

This site is full of old maps, images, and prints waiting to be rediscovered by the world. If you write anything with a historical base, you will want to browse the maps to add a sense of authenticity to your work. Instead of just describing a country in the 1800s, show your readers what it looked like with a map.

10. Free Digital Photos

If you are looking for legal photos of people, this site is an excellent resource. There are thousands of high-quality photos of people in settings ranging from weddings to business situations.

11. Photo Pin

Have you struggled to find the right picture on Creative Commons? Your search is almost over. Photo Pin acts like a search engine for Creative Commons, harvesting the best shots available.

Where do you go to get legal photos? Share the link with us and tell us why you love the site!

69 Responses to 11 Places to Get a Free and Legal Photo for Your Blog

  1. James H. Pence August 8, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Great links here. Thanks!

    Dreamstime.com sells stock photos, but also has a free images page with a good selection:


    When I purchase images, I use both dreamstime.com and istockphoto.com

    • Caitlin Muir August 8, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Thanks, James!

  2. Chihuahua Zero August 8, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Wow! This is quite the list. I guess I’ll be digging through them sometime soon.

    • Caitlin Muir August 8, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Best of luck!

  3. Deborah L. Parker August 8, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Wonderful! I was just searching for photos yesterday. This list is a time management saver~

    • Caitlin Muir August 8, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      I’m really glad it could help!

  4. Lavie Margolin August 8, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Creative Commons (http://search.creativecommons.org/) is really the best resource that I’ve seeen.

    • Caitlin Muir August 8, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Creative Commons is a great resource!

  5. Jan August 8, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Great list. Thanks. Another source is http://Compfight.com. It’s a search function for Flickr. You can specify Creative Commons commercial (or not) and then search on keywords. Great stuff, but the resources you give here will be terrific new resources.

    • Caitlin Muir August 8, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kevin April 25, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      I agree, I came across compfight earlier this year and I use it all the time. Plus, if you use WordPress, they have plug in you can use that makes it easier.

  6. martha brady August 8, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    thanks a lot. i go nuts trying to find photos for free. usually end up buying them:(

    • Caitlin Muir August 8, 2012 at 11:36 am #

      Not a problem! Glad you could do it!

  7. Julie H. Ferguson August 8, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    What about Wikimedia too?

    • Caitlin Muir August 8, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      Just make sure you pay attention to the licenses.

  8. Sandra Cody August 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    This is a fantastic find. Thank you!

    • Caitlin Muir August 9, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      You are welcome!

  9. L. M. August 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Thank you! This is an excellent list.

    • Caitlin Muir August 9, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      Let me know which site you end up using the most!

  10. Valerie Comer August 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    wylio.com is also free. Their search function isn’t the best, and you do have to pick through to find what you want, but I’ve gotten quite a few from that site.

    • Caitlin Muir August 9, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      Great to know!

  11. Michelle Holman August 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    This is brilliant, Caitlin. Thanks from Downunder!

  12. Christina Vasilevski August 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    This reminds me of something I’ve been wondering about.

    I write a lot of book reviews on my site, and I often show book covers in my reviews. Most of the time, I’ll get a copy of the book cover image from a site like Goodreads.

    Does using a book cover image like this (in conjunction with a review of the same book) fall under laws regarding “fair dealing”? I’m in Canada, so US provisions regarding “fair use” don’t match up.

    • Caitlin Muir August 9, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Most publishing houses provide different sized book cover images for book review bloggers to use on their websites. So you can use the images but make sure you aren’t claiming them as your own.

      Here’s a link to the US Copywrite laws. I’m not sure about Canadian ones. http://www.copyrightlaws.com/us/legally-using-images/

  13. satyajit mohanty August 10, 2012 at 8:43 am #


  14. Ellen August 10, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    WANACommons on Flickr is another resource. :-)

  15. The Brothers Washburn August 20, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    We’ve used 123rf.com. They have a large collection of free photos and images as well as low cost royalty free pictures.

  16. Palm November 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    And also check out http://www.ImageFree.com !

  17. Jake Kail November 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    This is a good list to know about! I get my pictures from http://www.creationswap.com. They have a lot of great quality free pics that fit with the look/style of my website.



  18. Lissa Bryan December 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    This article went into my favorites list. Thank you for the great information!

  19. Sidharth April 26, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    This is very informative. I was using images from google search and It was my biggest mistake. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Brian May 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    In google’s defense:

    Yes, you can filter by usage rights.

  21. Valerie Comer May 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    I use FreeDigitalPhotos.net and find they have a good selection of professional looking images for a wide variety of uses. Thanks for making me double check their TOS to make sure I’m in compliance, though, being as I often change a photo to black and white then add my post title so it’s an easy pin on Pinterest.

    Their TOS state:
    Manipulations, deviations and modifications of FreeDigitalPhotos.net images are allowed as well as including images in composites to achieve a desired effect.


  22. Nikitah June 24, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Doesn’t Office.com have “free” photos? I read their policy and you can use their pictures for pretty much anything, from what I understand. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/?CTT=97

  23. Karen Foster June 24, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Awesome photos. This was exactly what I needed to read! Thank you.

  24. Jason June 27, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    There are plenty of CC licensed photos on Flickr if you know how to find them.

  25. Alan June 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/ has a good collection of public domain photos, as well as links to stock photos for a small fee.

  26. Karl July 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    This site works too for finding good photos


    just make sure link back

  27. Anastasia Vitsky July 25, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Wonderful resource! Thanks for sharing. I’ve shied away from using any images except for my own book covers and banners custom-made for me, but I’d like to include more images. This is a great way to be able to do that. Thanks!

  28. Cris DeRaud August 6, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    A good alternative to sxc is http://www.rgbstock.com/

  29. jennifaye August 21, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    Just bookmarked this! Thanks for sharing this awesome list.

  30. Ria August 30, 2013 at 2:38 am #

    Thanks! Very helpful :)

  31. James Casdunar September 11, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    If you are a website designer, blogger http://pickupimage.com you can download high resolution Free stock images for free.

  32. Luis Lau November 1, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Hi, I have a portal with a gallery with my own photos. Every day I upload more photos and everybody can use it for free in any blog, epub or web.

    Just check it! Clic in the menu in pictures. The watermark is removed if you download the photo with the button download from the site.


  33. Parag K November 24, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    Great !!! An exhaustive list for free quality images. Thank you very Much…

  34. Bob December 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    For more public domain photos, especially of landscapes, check out http://www.goodfreephotos.com

  35. Moonjean December 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Thank you so much, Caitlin Muir.

  36. rakesh kumar January 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Photopin is perfect for me.Even I am planning to run such website project that can collect photos from more than one location and then display through my website. Thanks for posting this wonderful idea for us.

  37. Brenda C. January 21, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    I typically snap my own photos. In the distant past I purchased CDs with all kinds of photos and graphics on them. I also have a collection of stock art that I downloaded over time when a former employer bought me a subscription.

  38. Sean April 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    I like http://www.photopin.com for stock photos, http://www.unsplash.com for hi-res, and http://www.curatedquotes.com for picture quotes.

    It’s always good to cite where you get your photos from regardless of the copyright restrictions. At the very least, you’ll be letting your readers know where you found it.

  39. Michael H June 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Thanks for the post. Gogobot (www.gogobot.com) just launched a feature to allow bloggers to use their collection of 4MM travel related photos to enhance their blog. Just search for a destination or a point of interest (e.g. the Eiffel Tower), and click on the share icon in the lower right corner of any photo. It gives you blog-friendly embed code and includes proper attribution for creative commons so you don’t have to worry about running afoul of the law. Nice feature

  40. James Jean-Pierre September 10, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    Fantastic list, thank you.

  41. Alex September 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Another two websites with CC and free images: http://www.4freephotos.com and http://www.alegriphotos.com

  42. Bookie October 28, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    I needed this…thanks for sharing…

  43. Javier October 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Hi Friends, i also recommend http://en.freejpg.com.ar
    Exclusive and totally free photos for your commercial & personal works

  44. Julio November 11, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    One more source for creative commons licensed Photos and Public Domain Photos with cc0 Licence are http://creativecommons.photos​

  45. Andy November 12, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks for a great article. Despite the time when it was posted, it’s still useful.

  46. Yannis November 14, 2014 at 4:33 am #

    A collection from “not stock library” photos for free commercial use : http://www.themusicase.com/blog/photography/free-stock-photos-for-commercial-use/

  47. Lewis November 14, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Hi, thanks for this great list. I use one more source for my creative commons CC0 photos. Maybe you can add this source to your list. http://creativecommons.photos

  48. Marilyn German January 29, 2015 at 1:58 am #

    I think this is among the most significant info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things, The site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  49. Larhonda Tull January 29, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the great writing.

  50. VallieMelvin January 29, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

    hello!,I really like your writing very so much! proportion we be in contact more about your post on AOL? I need an expert in this space to unravel my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking ahead to look you.

  51. Tobias February 10, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    Hi, Maybe one more source for your great list. I search Photos always on http://creativecommons.photos they have many high quality public domain images. 


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