Ten free image sources for journalists

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Most journalists rely on images to bring stories to life. However, it’s often hard to find high resolution images of people and places that don’t cost the earth.

For your next article, consider one of these ten handy websites for accessing free images. Note that some websites also have paid options, while others are free but come with different license agreements, so always be sure to check the terms and conditions before going into download mode.

Unsplash


A free image site for photos uploaded by photographers around the world that can be downloaded and used without crediting the author. Just use keywords in the search bar and find an image that matches your topic.

All images are free to use, edit and share for any personal or commercial use. Attribution is not required, but when uploading the file there is an option to accredit images via a copy and paste feature which makes good practice easy.

Pixabay


Pixabay works much the same as Unsplash. It’s a free image site that lets you download images, illustrations, and vectors, as well as videos, all without paying a penny or asking for permission.

Note that the search results also feature sponsored content from Shutterstock, which can be purchased as royalty-free images.

Death at the Image Bank


The problem with stock image sites is that they can quickly become generic and monotonous. Finding the right image can also take time, and even then you might struggle to stand out from your competition.

Death To Stock (abbreviated) seeks to “kill the stock block”. It offers specialized media packs, produced by photographers around the world, edited by the internal team and made available to its subscribers.

There are membership tiers available at $12 per month for brands and businesses and $21 per month for freelancers and agencies, discounted when paid annually. This gives you unlimited downloads and access to the full database, which is updated monthly.

If that’s beyond your budget, you also have free options. There are free downloadable goodie bag packs, a standard 14-day free trial, or occasional free photo packs if you sign up with your email.

All images are under a Content End User License. This means you can use the images however you see fit, as long as you don’t redistribute them as your own. There are also a few restrictions on use of images.

Creative Commons

Unless otherwise stated, all content on the Creative Commons website is licensed Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, though there is other types of Creative Commons licenses.

The 4.0 license means the material is free to copy, share and adapt for any use, including commercial, as long as proper credit is given. The website also provides public domain content, which means that you can use it yourself.

It’s not just images available, you can also find literary works, videos, audio, and other research. For pictures, go to search function and use keywords to find what you are looking for. You can also narrow the search by filtering by commercial or modified use, and there are other filters on the search results page – a useful drop-down menu for filtering by specific licenses.

Flickr

Frank Noon/Mousetrap Media

Flickr is well established in the photojournalism community as Creative Commons platform – but it’s called an “online photo management and sharing application”.

In other words, photographers can create an account and upload any images they own the copyright to, and set their own licensing and usage terms to get their work seen more widely.

You can search photographer profiles and search results to find an image and use it according to individual restrictions in place.

Most users operate under a Creative Commons license specifying a particular use or attribution, while others are marked as all rights reserved, meaning you may not use the images in any way without first contacting the user and enter into a license agreement.

Broth Sandwich


Still in beta, this stock image site runs under a Creative Commons Zero License, which means that all images are free and can be used, modified or distributed for any personal or commercial project without the need for attribution. Just download and use as you wish.

What sets Stock Sandwich apart from other stock image sites is that the homepage images are handpicked by the team every week and you can keep up to date with the latest additions in you subscribing to the newsletter.

Snapwire snaps


A platform that allows you to order photos from around 200,000 international photographers.

You can browse by collections organized by the platform, or by creators who have registered on the site. Usually these are royalty-free images purchased in one-time payment for commercial use, but check individual license agreements.

What you can also do is enter your email address and receive seven free images per week straight to your inbox. You can also find many free copyright imageswho have waived their copyright and made them public domain.

We Animals Archives


Sometimes what you are looking for is more specialized or niche. You can browse stock image sites, but it can be an ultimately fruitless endeavor.

Launched in July 2017, We Animals Archive is an image archive database created by photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur with the aim of shining a light on the lives of animals used for food, fashion, entertainment, work, religion and experimentation.

It compiles over 12,000 images and videos from the We Animals Archive team. Browse by category or search by keyword, then request the images you want to use, specifying how you intend to use them. Nonprofits may not have to pay, but for-profit businesses do.

Representation issues


A tool for journalists that we have already covered. This is a royalty-free stock image website focused on inclusion and diversity, as the models and actors on the site represent different types of ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and body positivity.

If you sign up for free, you can get three free images per month. There are also subscription tiers that will allocate a quantity of images per month on credit, or you can simply purchase photos individually as part of a single transaction.

Automotive Futures

Another tool for journalists that we covered but has since undergone a website change.

This is a digital hub for journalists who report on the automotive and mobility industry, where you can download branded and royalty-free images and videos. This means that the copyright has been waived and therefore the assets can be downloaded without any initial or ongoing charges, although they are intended for editorial use.

We go deeper into promoting diversity in your newsroom at our Newsrewired conference on November 27 at Reuters, London. Head toward newsrewired.com for the full agenda and tickets

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