The 15 Best Free Stock Image Sites on the Internet

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(Pocket-lint) – With the redesign of Google Images, there’s a great temptation to dive in and start choosing photos and graphics willy-nilly. The sad truth, of course, is that you can’t just download any image you like and use it on your website or blog because Google found it. There’s this rather boring thing called copyright.

You can try, but there are all kinds of internet tools to let photographers know what’s happening to their shots. Instead, what you need is Creative Commons, the public domain, or just a photograph that someone is good enough to give away for free, but often just a little credit. So next time you want to illustrate your point, here are 15 of the best free stock image websites to head to.

Freeimages.co.uk

It’s not the prettiest website around and the search is basic to say the least, but you can’t argue with a source of over 5000 free original photos – especially when they’re this good. Freeimages.co.uk also a spin-off sister site, but still part of the same group, for the user-generated stills site Free Live Images. The former offers shots at 1152 x 864px or 1200 x 1600px resolution and the latter up to and around 3000 x 3000px with rarely a snap in either.


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Freedigitalphotos.net

Not quite as much on offer as above nor the same level of depth but Free digital photos allows you to use the images for wider personal and professional purposes. The site is also a little easier on the eyes and cleaner to navigate and it has just about every image of every type of standard bog name you could search for. 640 x 430 images cost nothing but anything larger has to be paid for. Credits are required for both the site and the photographer if you take the photos for free.


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Stock.xchng

A whopping 393,000 images to choose from and super high resolution downloads Stock.xchng (nice name) a great place to take your snaps. The search function isn’t very flexible, but the category list is superb with a plethora of specific occasions and themes, including emotion sets as well as personal favorites like Urban Decay.


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Picture after

Picture after isn’t so hot on standard stills, but it’s great at delivering plenty of the type shots no one else will have – 25,000 of them to be exact. We certainly haven’t found many other free photo libraries that let you search by texture.


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NationslIllustrated

There is only one thing you will find here, but you get it 7700 times. NationslIllustrated is, as the name suggests, all about photos from countries around the world, and that’s exactly how you search for them. The more random locations aren’t as well represented as the cities of London and New York, but they’re all on the map nonetheless.


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turbo pictures

Don’t let the cumbersome registration process keep you from accessing the nearly 5,000 archive images that make up turbo pictures. All images are available for free in medium size (800px wide approx) and only when you are past 300dpi for print level will you need to open your portfolio.


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Photol.com

The peculiarity of photol.com database is that they are not widely distributed. You won’t find them in other photo agencies. There also happen to be 385,000. Admittedly, they are mostly the most turgid side of the stock, but they are well composed nonetheless. Registration is required, but you can upload photos in any size you want as long as you don’t exceed 35MB of images per day.


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freepixels

4000 photos in more than 40 categories freepixels a solid choice. Nothing too different in this library from the site itself, but the navigation is clean and none of the shots are too cheesy.


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Gimp savvy

It’s about as basic as they come because it’s not really a stock library as such. Gimp-savvy is associated with the work people do with the open source image editor GIMP, but what this site does is allow you to search a whole bunch of public domain photos – 27,000 to be precise . The best part is that it includes the entire NASA library.


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Royalty-free photos.Biz

The range of over 11,000 free images and clip art provides a very decent range at the Royalty-free photos.Biz site. Add to that an excellent level of categorization and the fact that no registration is required, and you have a very usable service.


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Flickr

forgot about Flickr, is not it? While the majority of images on the cloud photo store are copyrighted, there are still hundreds of millions available for use under Creative Commons. Head to the advanced search to select the filter, then get started. A traditional stock site might claim that user-generated photos won’t be as high quality, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find here.


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Free range

Free range isn’t the best site, the search is relatively poor, and yawn, you have to sign up to get the images. On the plus side, the shots are largely great, which ultimately matters.


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Stockvault

Designed as a place where students and designers can share images with each other, Stockvault also lets you download from its quality collection as long as you are not going to take the photos for commercial purposes.


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FreeMediaGoo

No registration, no credit and no restrictions on how you can use them. Just go to FreeMediaGoo and download what you want. The only downside is that there isn’t much. That said, what you will find is very beautiful to look at.


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RGBStock

RGBStock has free registration required, but it’s one of the least annoying you’ll find. Once you’re done, you have access to one of the best free image libraries. It is a well designed site with lots of very high quality images. It also has a very good search function with tons of categories to help narrow everything down. No need to give credit but it’s polite to do so.


Premium…

Although they are not libraries in their own right, both of these image search engines are well worth checking out when looking for usable free stock photos.

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Google Images

There is no point in trying to calculate how many images there are on Google books because its goal is obviously to have them all, ever. Granted, the vast majority aren’t free to use, but head to the advanced search options and you can filter out those that are safe to reuse. The quality is, of course, incredibly varied, but you will certainly find what you are looking for. Don’t forget to check out the new image search features on the Google.com website rather than .co.uk.


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Everystockphoto.com

As its name suggests, the objective of All the pictures is to provide a purely free search engine of images and the virtual library of professional shots currently has more than 5 million, that is to say a lot. You do need to register, but it’s not a major difficulty and you should find a good selection from some of the sites above.


You

If you have any free stock image secrets, be sure to let us know in the comments – unless you prefer to keep them that way, of course.

Written by Dan Sung.

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