Creative Commons has a “CC-0”, no-rights-reserved, search. Images that it serves up are free to use without restrictions.
WP Tavern offers a roundup of 13 sites. The first few paragraphs might get a little too deeply into the weeds for your purposes; the distinction has largely to do with if you’re sub-licensing a completed product such as a WordPress theme. Nevertheless, the images you’ll find here are licensed to about the freest extent possible.
Public Domain Archive has a selection of modern and vintage images, along with a weekly featured set. There are also some premiums items available. But the general set is free to download without registration. They don’t have a huge amount of inventory; any given category has from a dozen up to around 40 images, and many are duplicated across categories. But they’re easy enough to grab, and are large enough to use in any kind of banner or background.
Pickup Image appears to be a searchable compilation of a few thousand images and clip art from various contributors. All are large high-resolution photos free for any kind of use. I see a lot of landscape images. Registration is required to download full-size images.
New Old Stock is another compilation, this one of vintage photos from public archives. The home page shows a nice assortment of botanicals, historical landscapes and novelty shots in color, black-and-white, and aged-photo looks. No registration necessary, just open the image and save it.
The British Library is just that, the venerable institution’s archive of tens of thousands of images including antique maps, plans, diagrams, wallpaper designs, postcards, tracings of hieroglyphics, bookplates, crests, engravings — well you get the idea. They are grouped into albums or by photostream. There’s a search feature, but make sure you use the advanced section to have it search only tags; otherwise you get a lot of irrelevant returns.
PD Pics is another collection of all-purpose public-domain images. This would be a place to go if you wanted a generic image of car keys or a camera lens. Nothing artistic, just workable.
Gratisography is a sublime-to-ridiculous collection of very unusual photos. Playful, surreal, imaginative and workaday live peacefully side-by-side here. Most are beautifully done.
1 Million Free Pictures apparently has 1,000,000 free pictures. It seems that they’re all the work of one very busy photographer who has a few favorite subjects and a keen interest in Photoshop filters and effects. The resolution can be a little low, and they aren’t showstoppers. But they could serve a purpose.
Pixabay has a large selection of stock photos, vector graphics, illustrations and videos. These are the typical things you would see in any stock photo site — bright colors, interesting filters, multiple and/or time-lapse exposures. Pretty commercial and slick. Not that that’s a bad thing. They’re high-resolution and high-quality.
Unsplash is a collection of very beautiful contributed photos. Creative angles, clean color and composition, and a different point-of-view are the orders of the day.
Shutterography is a new service, similar to Shutterstock, which has a nice selection of creative images, offered for royalty-free, non-attribution commercial use.
I haven’t covered all the listings in the WP Tavern article, only because I didn’t like what they had, didn’t think it was appropriate, didn’t think there was enough and, in two cases, because the site was broken. Still, these will give you lots of good options. Enjoy!
wikipedia common also offers a fee image under common creative licence also we can used on website. anyway good information.
Free images might look like a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t put butter on the table for photographers..
True, but images that are in the public domain, or licensed for free use, are only there because a copyright has expired or because a photographer has allowed it through Creative Commons or the like. In a university full of students trying to complete assignments, we need them to be fully educated in intellectual property rights. While we can’t expect them to navigate (or afford) the world of tracking down copyright holders and purchasing licenses for images, but we can offer this advice to prevent piracy.
Thanks for sharing this article. I already knew some but there were 2-3 that I had no clue about. I was looking for something like The British Library’s sort for antique and vintage photos from the history.
Thanks once again.
This is a very nice, very unusual collection, many of which are new to me. And I’ve seen a massive number of free photo sites! Here is a method for finding them online through search – you might consider adding this to the collection:
Find free-to-use images
When you do a Google Search, you can filter your results to find images, videos, or text that you have permission to use. To do this, use an Advanced Search filter called “usage rights” that lets you know when you can use, share, or modify something you find online.
Find images, text, and videos you can reuse:
1. Go to Advanced Image Search for images or Advanced Search for anything else.
2. In the “all these words” box, type what you want to search.
3. In the “Usage rights” section, use the drop-down to choose what kind of license you want the content to have.
4. Select Advanced Search.
NOTE: Before reusing content, make sure that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the license might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image. Google can’t tell if the license label is legitimate, so we don’t know if the content is lawfully licensed.
I do SEO professionally, and I think this method is often overlooked – but still very handy and fruitful.