How to Find Free Stock Photos That Aren’t Terrible

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If you’re not a gifted photographer, it can be nearly impossible to find great free photos for your digital and print projects.

Pulling an image from a quick Google image search can be risky. Who owns the photo? Are you free to use it or does a big company own the rights? Although Getty Images has backtracked a bit on its creepy claim letters, the cost of using an image that you don’t have the proper usage rights for can end up being quite high. There’s also the more than dubious ethics involved in taking what might be someone’s livelihood.

But sifting through the often sad offerings on Wikimedia Commons and trying to figure out what kind of attribution the photographs do or don’t need can seem like more work than it’s worth. Getty has now made some images royalty-free, although there are still a one-time fee, which can run into hundreds of dollars each depending on image quality and size.

In order to save the headache and hassle (not to mention legal fees), we found sites that have lots of stock images that are completely free.

1.Unsplash

You might find yourself spending way too much time on Unsplash wondering about the backstory of the beautiful photos. Their scale and dreamy quality make them perfect for blog posts, album covers, and anything that needs atmosphere. The downside is that the images are not categorized. All images are free for commercial use and do not require attribution.

2. Free instant messaging

I'm free

IM Free announces its advantages from the start. Some photos lean a little towards the amateurish, but there are still plenty of great photos to choose from. The site is ideal for images of people, nature and cities. All images are free for commercial use; some require attribution to the photographer. (Photo by Daniele Zedda)

3.Pixabay

Pixabay

Quality is a bit of an issue on Pixabay, but if you need Shutterstock-like images that scream without the cost, you’ll find them here. All images are free for commercial use and do not require attribution.

4. Gratisography

Gratisography

Gratisography is filled with quality and often offbeat imagery. Nothing is categorized on Gratisography, but scrolling through the site will bring up something that can inspire you or make you laugh. The photos are of Ryan McGuire and you should buy him a cup of coffee if you can. All images are free for commercial use and do not require attribution (though McGuire notes that is appreciated).

5. Startup Pictures

Startup Stock Photos

Do you need lots of photos of guys with MacBooks and big empty office spaces? Then Startup Stock Photos is the perfect place to get them. All images are free for commercial use and do not require attribution.

6. Flickr – Creative Commons Images

Flickr – Creative Commons Images

Flickr is full of images, but only some fall under the Creative Commons license. These Flickr images are already sorted for use and can be searched. All images are free for commercial use; some require attribution to the photographer.

7. Magdalen

Magdalene

Magdeleine easily categorizes her offerings: nature, city and architecture, people, animals, food, technology, objects and abstract. The photos have a calm, hipster vibe. All images are free for commercial use; they require attribution to the photographer. (Photo by George Yanakiev)

8. New old stock

New old stock

New Old Stock has vintage photos that are a weird and weird journey through history. The photos are in the public domain and are not classified but in a separate category. All images are free for commercial use and do not require attribution.

9. Raumrot

Raumrot

It sounds like a German death metal band, but Raumrot is filled with moody, filtered shots, mostly without people in the business, food and drink, mountain, nature, seasonal, sports, technical, transportation, and urban categories. All images are free for commercial use; they require attribution to the photographer. (Photo by Markus Spiske)

10. Foter

Focus

Foter offers a huge range of images in many categories. Quality varies, but with so much to choose from, you should find something that meets your needs. You can sort images on Foter to find those that are licensed for commercial use; some require attribution. (Photo by goMainstream)

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