Top 5 Free Stock Photo Sites
All web content creators and serious bloggers know that Google loves great content that's accompanied by awesome images. But you also need nice images for other reasons such as fragmenting your textual content into small readable sections, rousing emotional responses, captivating your readers' attention, or even strengthening a particular point that you're trying to pass across.
However, how do you acquire these images safely and what do you know about infringing on image copyrights or the laws involved in related indictments (if you’re caught)? Many bloggers are still oblivious of the legal mess they can land themselves in by using the wrong image! You do not any part of that, I promise you …
Can you imagine having to pay crazy amounts of money to some random guy or company as "statutory damages", and all for a photo that you'd not even have donated (let alone paying) a single cent for? These claims, for what you might assume to be "non-existent" damages, can range from a couple of thousands to sometimes even millions... and we’re talking dollars! Total BS right? Yeah, I know...
But guess what? It has happened to countless bloggers and companies, and it still continues to happen to those who are not careful about searching for royalty-free stock photos. And it can happen to you! Many "innocent" bloggers are getting sued left right and centre for copyright infringement as a result of "unknowingly" using someone's copyrighted images.
I recently went through the internet looking for information on such cases and I couldn't believe some of the jaw-dropping figures some of the plaintiffs were asking for, and some even got paid! Like for instance, The Content Factory, a PR and marketing company, were slapped with an $8, 000 “damages” claim for an old photo of Nebraska that they even thought was not worth a penny (and ugly too!)! They settled outside court and paid $3, 000. Getty Images and the AFP news agency paid $1.2M to a photojournalist (Daniel Morel) for copying and redistributing (Haiti disaster) photos from his Twitter.
Please be warned, the internet has become a terrible jungle where survival depends on how well prepared you are with the necessary information. Truth be told, the internet is no longer a place for the meek or the ignorant. Don't get caught on the wrong side of a copyright infringement case, things may become very ugly, very fast!
So where can you get free stock photos that you can use without risking this legal/financial conundrum? Here are 5 cool websites to start you off. You can get all the images you want from these sites absolutely free without worrying about bizarre (BS) lawsuits from "conniving internet wolves" who are prepared to tear you apart and sue you for everything you're worth, and more...!
#1 - Pixabay.com
All vector art, photos, and videos are shared as public domain under the Creative Common license. Gone are the days when free stock photos were unprofessional and blurry and just plain meaningless. Pixabay has really changed the game by stocking awesome clear photos that you can easily download, alter, or even redistribute anywhere; either commercially or otherwise.
The best part is that their database is continuously updated with new images that you don't have to seek permission for before using, and you definitely don't have to leave any attributions if you don't feel like it! Everything is properly categorized for quick and easy searches or browsing whenever you need specific themed photos. Signing up on Pixabay is also totally free.
There are over 920, 000 media files in total at your disposal. And the number keeps growing…
#2 - Pikwizard.com
Pikwizard is also a worthy addition to this list! It's your one-stop for great free stock photos and videos. The main selling point is you can take each image and edit it on a graphic design tool, Design Wizard. And the images of people are great! As it stands, Pikwizard boasts over 100,000 high-quality images and videos. And there's no attribution required!.
#3 - Pexels.com
Arguably one of the largest image libraries on the planet, Pexels offers more than fancy images of sleeping cats. With over 100 photos uploaded every day, Pexels is growing like malignant cancer and we love it because it means no more “Are you kidding?” lawsuits for us! All images are under CC0 licensure and properly indexed under several categories to help you “discover” what you need with ease, and fast.
The other thing is that all images can be used for commercial or personal reasons without leaving any attributions. One important restriction they have is using images where “human” faces are clearly in view, inappropriately. That means you cannot use anyone’s photo, for instance, to promote strange materials… unless they say it okay. Anything else goes…! And I can tell now, the only photos these guys probably don’t have yet is God’s! Or maybe I missed it…?
You can upload your stuff there too…
#4 - Unsplash.com
Their Motto/Mantra: “Do whatever you want”!
Everything here is Hi-res, and you can subscribe to receive the best Unsplash has to offer right into your inbox. How’s that for saving your ass from the big bad “give me all your money” PhotoWolf!? You can find anything you want; from beautiful landscapes to product photos that you can use for reviews… they have it all. The main categories in their collection are “Curated” and “Featured” images, everything else falls under that.
I mean… there’s even a category in there for “African Black Americans” where you can find photos of beautiful black men (LoL)… I thought this was funny but it goes to show you that these guys have literally thought of everything… I mean, right? But that’s Unsplash for you.
And then of course, there’s the part where you’re covered by their CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license which translates to modify, download, or distribute all the images you want. Total freedom to do “Whatever you want”.
#5 - Picjumbo.com
The name says it all… unless you missed the “jumbo” part…
When your project needs high-quality images, then this is one of the places to start. The owner of this website (Viktor) is a web designer who decided to give all bloggers and freelancing fellow web-designers a place to solve all their image needs. He is truly a guy who understands the importance of finding free images that you can use, specifically for content creators and bloggers among others. He single-handedly runs everything on the site…
So what's special about Picjumbo? Well, in addition to finding all the free images you can ever dream of, there’s a subscription service where you can receive images directly sent to your email, and there more… you can opt-in for the Premium Membership upgrade and receive extra collections of thematic images.
Picjumbo also provides you with a “Test Drive” function to help you decide on photos that fit your needs precisely before downloading them… neat huh? One problem is that some of the images are too large… okay, maybe not too large, but 5MBs is not what your SEO teacher said you could post on your website or blog. So yeah, you might need some (not so expert) editing skills if you want to use some of the images from this site.
Picjumbo also has an “All in one pack” which can be bought for $15+ (minimum is $15 but you can suggest your own fair price if you wish to pay more…). You get 1000+ images, 3 mock-ups, and it all goes to your dropbox.
The only thing Picjumbo asks you to do is to be responsible (and respectful) when using images from their website, especially if there are photos of products from trademarked companies (brands). Also, attributions are greatly appreciated (not demanded) where the images are used as placeholders in articles or PowerPoint templates for sale. Picjumbo however has a “redistribution” license payable monthly or annually.
#Bonus site - Gratisography.com
Lastly, we look at another giant free stock photo library, Gratisography. This is basically Ryan McGuire’s gift to the world… he describes it as “Whimsical”! The photos here are updated weekly and they’re all courtesy of… yep, you guessed it, Mr. McGuire himself. Hi-resolution photos for your needs… and some will make you laugh to tears. Creativity and a fun side to life are what you find at Gratisography. If you’re looking to stir emotions and really captivate the attention of your blog or site visitors then this is the place to go!
You can donate to buy McGuire a coffee, but at least he’s not asking for millions right? All images are grouped into 7 categories and everything is simply awesome. Even sad photos make you laugh… that’s the magic and genius of Gratisography’s creator. Everything is safely provided under CC0 (Creative Common Zero) licensure
You are not obligated to leave any credit after using any of the images from this site for personal and commercial purposes but it is always a welcomed noble idea.
Final Word: Picture This…
Did you catch what I did up there… go back to the Picjumbo review…
I used a “photographer's” photo to prove a point… respectfully and responsibly. Not that I’m showing off to the guy, but simply because I know he can’t slap me with a lawsuit. I’m covered by Picjumbo’s free stock photo usage policies. And just in case the guy gets any funny (expensive) ideas… I’m still pointing out that I’m doing this both respectfully and responsibly… and I’m ready to Cease and Desist if it ever comes to that.
I will, however, warn all who go Googling for images (for whatever use) and just pick the first images they run into without a second thought… you might want to rethink that! Two words: “Law” “Suit” and your entire world can come tumbling down on you like an avalanche. A single photo can leave you filing for bankruptcy or worse. So, you better hope a robed dude with fake white hair never throws these two words at you; “Statutory Damages”!
Indoctrinate, Imbue, Infuse, Pervade, Proselytize, Reeducate… take your pick… that’s my mission throughout this article. Please never forget these three characters because they can save your life… “CC0” (Creative Common Zero). Say yes to Zero image copyright infringement lawsuits today! Save someone you care about… share this message everywhere you go.
Resource: Best free stock photo sites for 2021
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