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

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.

Tweetables -

  • 11 places to get a free and legal photo for your blog. – Click to tweet.
  • I’ll have to check these out! // 11 places to get a free + legal photo for your blog. – Click to tweet.
  • There’s no excuse to steal photos for your website. – Click to tweet.
  • Stealing photos? Time to come clean and get legal ones.  – Click to tweet.
  • Quit googling images and stealing them for your blog. – Click to tweet.

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!

About Caitlin Muir

Caitlin Muir knows the power of social media first hand. She's on the editorial team of The Social Media Club, which connects media makers from around the world to promote media literacy, industry standards, and ethical behavior. She blogs about faith, love, and social media at CaitlinMuir.com.

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

  1. Great links here. Thanks!

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

    http://www.dreamstime.com/free-photos

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

    • Caitlin Muir #

      Thanks, James!

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

    • Caitlin Muir #

      Best of luck!

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

    • Caitlin Muir #

      I’m really glad it could help!

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

    • Caitlin Muir #

      Creative Commons is a great resource!

  5. Jan #

    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 #

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

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

    • Caitlin Muir #

      Not a problem! Glad you could do it!

  7. Julie H. Ferguson #

    What about Wikimedia too?

    • Caitlin Muir #

      Just make sure you pay attention to the licenses.

  8. This is a fantastic find. Thank you!

    • Caitlin Muir #

      You are welcome!

  9. Thank you! This is an excellent list.

    • Caitlin Muir #

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

  10. 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 #

      Great to know!

  11. This is brilliant, Caitlin. Thanks from Downunder!

  12. 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 #

      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. Ellen #

    WANACommons on Flickr is another resource. :-)

  14. The Brothers Washburn #

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

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

  16. 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.

    Thanks,

    Jake

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

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

  19. In google’s defense:
    https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/29508?hl=en&rd=1

    Yes, you can filter by usage rights.

  20. 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.

    Yay!

  21. Nikitah #

    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

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

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

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

  25. Karl #

    This site works too for finding good photos

    http://www.coolapic.com/

    just make sure link back

  26. 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!

  27. Cris DeRaud #

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

  28. Just bookmarked this! Thanks for sharing this awesome list.

  29. Ria #

    Thanks! Very helpful :)

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

  31. 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.

    http://www.rawepub.com

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

  33. Bob #

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

  34. Thank you so much, Caitlin Muir.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. Sean #

    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.

  38. Michael H #

    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

  39. Fantastic list, thank you.

  40. Alex #

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

  41. Bookie #

    I needed this…thanks for sharing…

  42. Javier #

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

  43. Julio #

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

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

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

  46. Lewis #

    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

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