59+ Ways To Find Free Images For Commercial Use

Finding truly free images for commercial use is a confusing pain. There are a few things going on.

First, photographers (sensibly) do not give free images restriction-free. And violating those restrictions can result in bad, expensive consequences for your business.

Second, there are incentives for photographers to give free images to businesses with license restrictions. And there are businesses that would rather follow license restrictions than spend budget on good imagery.

Third, many times photographers want to offer the general public images for free, but also reserve the right to charge businesses.

And so – we’re left with a confusing situation for honest businesses on a budget. And unfortunately, there are plenty of lists of “free images” on the Internet that blindly list image websites that offer images that are not truly free.

They have license restrictions for businesses, require email registration, require watermarks, or generally go beyond the Creative Commons commercially allowed licenses.

So! I have reviewed 200+ “free image” websites and curated them into this list of 59+ image sources or search tools to find truly free images for commercial use.

Image Search Tools

The first group of free image sources are image search tools that allow you to scour either the entire Internet or the largest online collections quickly for free images.

Google Advanced Image Search

Google Image Search

This is one of Google Image Search’s buried but valuable features. Navigate to Google Advanced Image Search and select the Usage Rights for the images you are trying to find.

Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons – the organization that provides the licensing you’re looking for – provides a “meta-search” of the largest Creative Commons license search engines. Be sure to select “use for commercial purposes.”

500px Creative Commons Search

500px Creative Commons

500px is a platform for very high-quality images. You can use their Creative Commons search function to find free images.

Flickr Creative Commons Search

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr is still the largest repository of Creative Commons attribution images. Just search by license that’s available for commercial use. This source is usually everyone’s favorite. It’s simple to attribute as well.

Can We Image

Can We Image

A simple search engine that focuses on Wikimedia Commons’ available images.

Compfight

Compfight

A search engine focused on Flickr…but with additional capabilities.

Every Stock Photo

Every Stock Photo

Another “meta” search engine similar to Google’s abilities. Has additional tagging functions.

Foter

Foter

Another “meta” search engine but with simple attribution tools. Also available as a WordPress plugin.

Image Finder

Image Find

Another “meta” search engine supported via advertising and links to premium services.

PhotoPin

PhotoPin

Another “meta” search engine with a focus on simple attribution.

Free Image Sources

Outside of search tools, there are several websites that offer free images from their own collection. While all the sites listed allow commercial-use, be sure to re-read their license information to implement attribution correctly.

These are not listed in any particular order.

StockPhotos.io

StockPhotos

This site is supported by ads & web design lead generation. Lots of high-quality images.

Free Range Stock

Free Range Stock

Ad supported website with interesting images.

Free Photos Bank

Free Photos Bank

Another ad-supported site with decent diversity of photos.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Well-known image source with an extensive library.

BigFoto

BigFoto

Smaller, older site.

Gratisography

Gratisography

Very high quality site supported by lead generation to the creator’s agency work.

Death to the Stock Photo

Death To Stock

You can get photos free by email OR just do a site:https://deathtothestockphoto.com/ search in Google.

FreeMediaGoo

FreeMediaGoo

Older, smaller site with interesting textures & photos.

Little Visuals

Little Visuals

This site is on auto-pilot but has a good archive. The search function is in the top left on the homepage.

New Old Stock

New Old Stock

They are taking old photos in the public domain.

Picjumbo

PicJumbo

The free photos are buried beneath ads – but they are there.

Pickup Image

PickupImage

Collection from a photographers’ collective.

Pik Wizard

PikWizard

Large collection with solid filter / sort and lots of “people” pictures.

Superfamous

Superfamous

Personal project from a prolific photographer.

Unsplash

Unsplash

An interesting crowd-sourced site supported by lead-generation to a freelancers’ site.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia

Giant repository of the Wikimedia Foundation. Has lots of public domain images.

Negative Space

Negative Space

Smallish quality collection. I have no idea how this site is supported. Kind of mysterious.

Life Of Pix

Life of Pix

Nice collection from an ad agency in Montreal.

Pexels

Pexels

Great collection – no idea how they make money.

Stock Snap

StockSnap

Collection from a designer’s software.

Magdeleine

Magdeleine

Curated selection of photos around the web. Sort of like a manual search engine.

Jay Mantri

Jay Mantri

Personal project with good images.

Re:splashed

Resplashed

Small, interesting collection.

Picography

Picography

Great collection created by a WordPress design shop.

ISO Republic

ISO Republic

High-quality independent collection supported by ads & direct support. Great project.

Stokpic

Stokpic

An independent project with plenty of free images.

Raumrot

Raumrot

Small, independent project supported by ads.

FoodiesFeed

FoodiesFeed

This site sells images to food bloggers, but has a large free section as well.

Cupcake

Cupcake

Personal project with an interesting collection.

SplitShire

Splitshire

Small, ad-supported resource.

Travel Coffee Book

Coffee Travel

Interesting personal project.

DesignersPics

DesignersPics

Another interesting personal project. Plenty of quality “generic/versatile” images.

Moveast

Moveast

Personal project with plenty of travel related photos.

Snapwire Snaps

Snapwire

The free collection from a premium photo service. The search box is in the top right.

Jéshoots

Jeshoots

Rapidly growing personal project.

Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock

Small, office focused collection.

 

Kaboompics

Kaboom

Great collection from a web designer in Poland.

FancyCrave

FancyCrave

Growing quality collection. Ad-supported. Very classy site.

Snapswell

Snapswell

Great personal project.

Free Nature Stock

Free Nature Stock

Great personal project.

Realistic Shots

Realistic Shots

Another great personal project.

Streetwill

Streetwill

No idea about this website’s background, But they have great landscape imagery.

Barn Images

Barn Images

Ad-supported project from 2 designers in Latvia. Great collection.

Burst

Burst

Burst is a project from Shopify that provides Creative Commons Zero photos to entrepreneurs. It’s new with tons of interesting photos.

Free Image Tools

In addition to image sources, you can also find free to use images that are built into free design tools. The bonus here is that you can edit the images directly inside the tool.

Canva

Canva

Design app that lives up to every bit of hype. Has a large library of free images and plenty more for just $1 each.

Pablo

Pablo

Free design app from Buffer. Solid collection of free images that you can edit & share easily. The only downside is that it’s so popular that you’ll likely re-use the same image as many other websites.

ShareAsImage

ShareasImage

I used this app for the featured image of this post. It’s similar to Pablo, but with a much larger image library. Most of the best features are only available with a paid plan though.

Excluded Image Resources

Lists of free image sources are a dime a dozen on the Internet. But they don’t all filter out free image sites that are not truly free for commercial use.

Here are the most commonly cited “free image sites” that are restricted, not free for businesses, or simply re-post free images from the sites listed above along with lots of ads.

Feel free to Google them & use them for personal projects though!

  • Dreamstime
  • Albumarium
  • Free Digital Photos
  • Free Images
  • ImageFree
  • IM Free
  • Morguefile
  • Public Domain Pictures
  • Stockvault
  • Rgbstock
  • Ancestry Images
  • BucketListly
  • Getty Images

Premium Image Sources

If you have a money value on your time, sometimes it’s simply not worth it to dig around for the perfect free image.

That’s where premium image marketplaces come in. They are huge, cheap and simple. You pay for an image, download it, and use it however you like. Here’s my favorites.

Disclosure – I use these sites as a paying customer. I also receive customer referral fees from these sites to support my free work.

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

They are the biggest brand in the space. I like how smaller images are usually big enough for my needs, but are also much cheaper.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Another big brand in the space. Anecdotally, they have much less “stock-looking” images.

Photodune

Photodune

Smaller collection, but also very cheap.

Creative Market

Creative Market

Rapidly growing & highest quality. You won’t find typical stock photos here.

Next Steps

If you are a business looking for free imagery, be sure to understand the legal landscape, licenses, consequences and benefits of imagery.

Try to find one or two sources of imagery that fits your brand & licensing needs. Use them for fast, free imagery. If you need something unique, skip the search and pay for premium imagery.

Lastly, notice how you’re going to be linking back to all these image sources. What if you could be the one to get all those links? Check out how you can take advantage of this tactic with my guide to Automating Image Link Building post.

Larry Ludwig

About Larry Ludwig

Larry Ludwig is an entrepreneur, financial expert, tech & marketing guru with over 25 years of industry experience.

In July 2018, Larry successfully sold Investor Junkie for $6 million.

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