How to find free-to-use photos for your blog

Every one agrees: you need great images to bring your blog alive. But where’s the best place to find them, without it costing too much or contravening copyright laws?  The good news is, there are plenty of sites online where you can get great images that are free-to-use, in both senses.  And not all of them provide dull, same-y stock photos.  Equally, not all the photos on all the sites are free – check before you download.

GreatCopy starfish

Here are some suggestions; I’ll tell you my favourite at the end – it may surprise you!

The best free-to-use photo sources

pixabay.com – highy recommended by a lot of people

morguefile.com

freedigitalphotos.net

join.deathtothestockphoto.com (they’ll send you freebies every week if you sign up, some more useful than others)

https://en.fotolia.com/  (ditto)

unsplash.com (ditto)

freerangestock.com

publicdomainpictures.net

Red Sea anemone fish

sxc.hu

dreamstime.com/free-photos

stockvault.net

freestockphotos.com

freeimages.co.uk

freephotosbank.com

New Old Stock

Flickr.com is an odd one: some of the photos are usable, others aren’t.  Not everyone makes their family snaps “Private”.  Here’s how to find photos you can use commercially on Flickr

Go to Flickr.com

Click  on the magnifying glass to get the Advanced Search option. Scroll down the page and tick the “Creative Commons” and “Find content to use commercially” boxes; if you want to modify or adapt the photo, tick that as well. Then click Search and you’ll see only photos you can use without infringing copyright.

smiley face

And now my favourite: Google images.

Yup, the one everyone tells you not to use.  Again, you MUST make sure the image you want to use is available for commercial use.

Go to https://images.google.com and enter the word you want your image to reflect.  Thousands of potentially useful pictures appear.  Don’t bother even looking at them yet.

In the middle of the task-bar above the images click Settings, then Advanced search.  A new window opens. Scroll right down to Usage rights and choose the appropriate option: “Free to use or share, even commercially” or “Free to use, share or modify, even commercially”.  Click on “Advanced Search”, which returns you to the (now much-reduced) page of images.

You could just right-click on the image you want and select Save, but you may find it’s saved at a much smaller resolution than the size given on Google.  To get a full-size image, left-click on it in Google and, when it opens, choose “View Image” and save it from there.

Choosing the right image is still something of a rabbit hole – you can spend hours locating exactly the right one.  I find Google the easiest source because it collects images from so many different sites, including some of the ones in the list above.  But make sure you choose a Creative Commons (free to use) image for your blog.

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