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If you own a website or write a blog then you're probably in need of a constant supply of stock images. 

This can lead to frustrating searches as you try to find a photo that illustrates your point without looking like a scene from a low budget '90s romantic comedy.

It’s tempting to revert to a Google Images search, but that’s likely to lead to a breach of some poor person’s copyright so it’s not a good idea.

To help reduce the pain and suffering I’ve rounded up eight places you can go to find free and unique stock imagery...

Google Images

Google Images has a handy feature that allows you to filter out any images that aren’t available for commercial reuse.

It’s a two-step process:

  1. Click on the ‘Search tools’ menu within the image results page.
  2. Select ‘Labeled for reuse’ from the dropdown menu.

Freerange Stock 

Freerange Stock requires users to sign up for a free membership, then all the images are reusable for commercial purposes at no cost.

All the photos are free as it works on an advertising model, so photographers get paid when users click on the ads that appear next to the images

MorgueFile

The morgueFile offers an archive of free hi-res stock photos that are available for corporate or public use.

It’s a terrific resource and the UX is an improvement on most of the free tools on this list.

Flickr

Flickr has a brilliant collection of photos available, but again you have to ensure that you only select photos that have been labelled for reuse and then give proper attribution.

It’s very easy to filter out images that aren’t for reuse in the ‘Advanced Search’ options:

OpenPhoto.net

OpenPhoto has been going since 1998 and to be honest the UI doesn't look like it's been updated since then.

The site describes itself as a “niche photo sharing platform” where contributors offer their work free of charge under terms of Creative Commons licensing.

It offers a good range of images and I'd recommend using the 'Browse' function as the search tool can often return some rather obscure results.

Stock.xchng

Another free resource, Stock.xchng has more than 400,000 photos available for commercial reuse. It's a fantastic resource and one worth bookmarking.

There are a few restrictions on how images can be used though, so it’s worth quickly reading the licence agreement before you get started.

Stockvault.net

Stockvault.net has more than 35,000 images on offer, which is a relatively small amount compared to the others, however they are generally of very high quality.

You need also be aware that the images aren’t available for commercial use, so you’re somewhat restricted as to what you can do with them.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m unsure exactly how many images are available on this site, but it seems to have a decent range available.

You can only download small versions of the photos and must give proper attribution for all of them. Hi-res versions of the images are available at a cost.

One rather annoying feature of this site is that you have to fill in a security field in order to download an image, which then tries to force you to watch a video advert.

Image credit of two people laughing: Photostock

David Moth

Published 25 February, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1676 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

Jonathan Beeston

Jonathan Beeston, Director, New Product Innovation, EMEA at Media & Advertising Solutions, Adobe

http://unsplash.com/ is worth a look too. Not a huge choice, but some nice images.

over 2 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Thanks Jonathan. I came across quite a few sites with small libraries of decent images, but they tend to be let down by their search results, potentially due to the way the images are labelled

over 2 years ago

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka Istvanova, Marketing Project Manager at Freestak

Awesome stuff David - exactly what I need for my blog. I've used some of them but never heard of Freerange Stock or MorgueFile. Will aslo recommend my clients with limited budgets.
Thanks again!

over 2 years ago

Neale Gilhooley

Neale Gilhooley, MD at Evolution Design

Be very careful about images from Google Images! We used an apparently free image as a positional placeholder on a website demo and found that it was actually the property of a troll who them charged us an extortionate fee for a few days use as he found it before we put the real image in. We did have to settle as legally we were in the wrong. What this guy does is let them run free on one website found easily by Google and then attacks any use thereafter by searching for the image names and alt tags. It is now his business.

Lesson find out exactly who the image belongs to before uploading, because they do not belong to Google and can be found online amazingly fast.

over 2 years ago

Oliver Ewbank

Oliver Ewbank, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

Nice post. I did not realise you could filter for re-use on Google Images.

over 2 years ago

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