Jan 5, 2016 | Payel Mukherjee
Here is a list of 10 websites that give you stunning images and photographs absolutely free for use on website, blogs, PDFs, slideshows and wherever you want!
If you have been a digital or content marketer for some time, you know this problem only too well – there isn’t much free stuff when it comes to visuals or photographs for your precious content. And as you might be fully aware by now – you just can’t substitute having visuals with texts.
Visuals give your text – be it website content, blog, social media posts, e-papers, presentations and books, researches –a powerful reach that changes the way the content is received by your target audience. And that’s because the brain processes images faster than the written text – 60,000 times faster. Here’s a great infographic by Leo Gomez to demonstrate this fact visually.
Source: Leap Agency
Now, it’s not that there aren’t any free images on the Internet. Oh yes, there is stuff available – but whatever comes for free isn’t without its share of pain. In the free domain, you are unlikely to get the good stuff in high resolution – which means that if you try to make them bigger in the size that you most need, the picture will start showing lots of grains and lose its beautiful clarity.
Hence you either have to suffer the pain of using an out-of-size pixelated picture on your website/blog/social media/presentation, wherever you need it, or be happy with not putting up a visual at all.
The ones that I happened to like always seemed to be from Shutterstock, and always had watermarks in places you can never rub off and still keep the picture as it is. The ones that they send you for free for registering with them are usually the ones you are not likely to use anywhere. Of course, Shutterstock has a business to run and doesn’t want people like us to take its pictures for free. But what about marketers like us?
Image Source: Shutterstock
From our endless search on the net for finding pictures, we found that there were companies that understood our pain and had started giving out pictures for free for use – YES, nice, high resolution pictures for free. Bless them Lord! So here, for the benefit of thousands of fellow marketers like us, we have compiled a list of top 10 website which give you absolutely free images that actually are brilliant.
But before that, a few words regarding the licences and creative commons.
Licenses and Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that works to assist people in sharing their creative work with the help of their legal tools. All the websites listed below allow you to download their images and use them however you like. But there are two types of creative commons licenses you should be aware of. Creative Commons Zero is a license that allows you to use an image in whichever way you want, without any legal requirements. On the other hand, creative commons with attribution means that you can use an image according to your requirement, but you have to credit the creator of the image.
Now, let’s move on to the stuff you have been waiting to hear about. Here is our grand list.
This site is famous for its simple and brilliant search feature and its stock of incredible images. All of the images are licensed while most of them do not require attribution.
Ever since our team stumbled onto Unsplash, they can’t seem to get enough of it. The pictures here are so cool and hip that people like me just cant stop looking and thinking which one to download. Launched in 2013, on Tumblr, Unsplash was actually an in-house side project where the founders wanted to share extra pictures they had from projects, turned out to be a hit when eager photographers started posting in order to be known and featured. Unsplash is considered the best website for high-resolution stock images on the internet. The website releases ten new and incredible photos every ten days, and is licensed under the Creative Commons. The best part – you can use these pictures anywhere like you could even print them on T-shirts or mugs or wherever and make money out it. Not too good thing for the creative artist but we are not complaining at the moment.
This website stuns you with its collection of landscape and featurish pictures. There is a mix of vintage and uber-modern pictures but not that many of objects. Available in high resolution, most of these images contain breathtaking symmetry and muted colours. They are licensed under the creative commons and do not require an attribution. There is a page which also asks you to share the final piece where you have used. One problem is that there is no search button here so the pictures need to be seen page by page.
This website is well known for its pretty huge collection of high-resolution free stock photos. Added to that is the site’s search feature that makes browsing through thousands of pictures feel like child’s play. The site also tracks the downloads and views, so you can find out the most popular pictures. The images are licensed under the creative commons and do not need an attribution.
This one has a nice navigation where pictures have been stacked as per categories. Pictures available here are natural pictures captured on a mobile. There are some incredible pictures that have been taken by photographers all across Europe. Attribution for these images is not needed. Not all is free here though but the free category has quite a robust range of pictures.
This one was started as a side project by Italian photographer Daniel Nanescu and soon has caught the interest of photo-hungry marketers as well as designers. The website gives you pictures taken by Nanescu ever since he was 23. A graphic designer by profession, this guy shows you that he is also a photographer par excellence. The pictures are hauntingly beautiful and nicely classified for us to use. You could practically use it everywhere you want – from covers, to websites, blogs, artwork, and even in your paid products. You can even request for a picture which you don’t see there but want. Could things be better than this?
Well the name says it all and am darn glad it does. Founders and photographers Allie and David started mailing image packs, shot by them, to writers, freelancers, bloggers, designers after noticing the need for such images. For people like us who have been spent hours searching for good photographs, Death to Stock Photos seemed to have been sent from heaven. All they need you to do is sign up and you start getting sets of 10 images every month from the category you have chosen. You also get a pack of free pictures the minute you join. How good is that? Death to Stock Photos has its own licence available on their website. For those who like scrummaging through the website before downloading the pictures, this might not be the place for you. There are pictures that even have stories. There is a premium membership associated with those who want to access 400 photos and more. The profits, according to the founders, will fund creative projects across the globe. Worth checking out for sure!
If you are looking for abstract images, then Little Visuals could be it. Similar to Unsplash, this website, after a free sign up, sends you seven high quality zipped images every week. They are registered under the creative commons licence public domain. The website has stopped uploading images for over a year after the sudden death of its creator Nic.
As a designer himself, Victor Hanacek created this site to solve the problem of finding good quality pictures. This has a lot of useful pictures which can be used for blogs, websites, projects, whitepapers, slideshows etc. As per Hanacek, if you don’t want to attribute the pictures, that’s ok. Cool!
This website stands out immediately with its large collection photographs of people at work, offices, and work objects. It has a startup focus to it, probably because it was created by people (Sculpt, an Iowa-based social media marketing agency) carrying the startup spirit. The best part is there are loads of usable images for technology entrepreneurs, web designers and writers. All high-resolution pictures are covered under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means you pay nothing to use the pictures. Neat right!
Using visuals is no longer an option but an important part of content marketing since it help break up the text and also explain what you are trying to tell the audience a lot better.
Hopefully, this list will help your team use more and better pictures in your blogs and websites than you were previously doing. And that should transform into more traffic to your website or content, which is always the goal.
Have you been using any of the above websites? Do you know of other websites which are not in this list? We would love to hear.
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