As a designer, often an occasion will arise where all of a sudden I need a certain image, of a certain subject, with certain colors and I need it fast. Project budgets, not to mention my own budget, don’t always allow me to pay for commercially licensed photography and images. Luckily for you and me, we have free stock photography websites.
As long as images have been for sale on the internet, images have been made available for free. And now there’s more places to get these images than ever. I’ve put together a list of my favorites below. Do you know of a good one that I missed? Drop it in the comments!
Don’t be afraid to go to the Morgue! Weird name huh? From the site: “The term “morgue file” is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well.” Another good site. Note: This may not still be true for you by the time you read this, but as of the time of this posting, MorgueFile is undergoing a site re-design. In doing so, they are offering access to their entire archive of free images, without even registering or logging in.
It may have an awkward name and url (www.sxc.hu/) but this free stock photography site has been around for over 7 years and now has over 380,000 images in it’s bloated belly. A variety of searching options help you to find the image you are looking for. Be aware that the licence agreement that applies to all Stock.xching images has a few restrictions on usage. Read it before downloading.
Every Stock Photo
EveryStockPhoto.com has got a ton of images. Over 4 million of them. However, the images fall under a variety of different licensing agreements, including Creative Commons, GNU, public domain, and custom free licenses, so be sure to check out the license for the image you want before you run off to use it.
OpenPhoto.net is a smaller open source type site. Images are licensed on an individual basis by their owners. I’m not sure how many images are available, though a quick search did yield some good results. Also, no registration/login makes swooping in the grab a pic quick and easy.
Nations Illustrated focus’ on scenic and landscape photography. You can search by geographic region. Great idea, but not a whole lot of images here yet (7,300). Still it might be worth checking out if you are in need of an outdoor shot from a specific part of the world.
This site uses a basic sort of forum or messageboard style layout to browse images by category (Lifestyle, Nature, Food, Cooking etc..). They have over 27,000 images in 149 categories. This is another good site to zero in on an image you need and pick it up quick, as there are no logins or registration. The other great thing? “All pictures listed at PhotoRack are Free to use for personal and commercial projects. No limitations.”
If you are still hungry for more, check out this list of 30 free stock image websites.