I wrote about using Flickr a while ago as a good source of images that you can use free and with few or no copyright limitations.
Lately, I’ve been organizing my database of places to find free and unrestricted images. Keep in mind that “free” often requires your giving the source credit and a link back to the image provider’s site.
No, this list does not include every site in the universe. If you have some favorites, please add them as a comment and I’ll add them to the next list. Thanks.
Here’s what I’ve come up with recently:
Springfield Township High School Virtual Library–It seems odd, I know, but you can find a long list of sites where you can find free images and videos. Many of them have a historical aspect. I’ll probably wind up mentioning some of the same ones on this list, so apologies in advance for any overlap.
U.S. Federal Agencies and other government (local, state and federal) institutions: Images from Uncle Sam’s agencies are freely available and without restriction. Try NASA, Department of Interior, Library of Congress and others. You can find a big chunk of government agency images at USA.gov. Don’t overlook national government labs such as Argonne National Laboratory for science and physics-related images.
YouTube. ‘Enuf said.
Public Relations agencies and corporate PR shops. PR people love to hand out images and videos. All you have to do is ask. They prefer if you give them source credit but won’t complain if you don’t. Check the press sections of company and agency Web sites to find them. You can also find multimedia at PR distribution sites such as PRNewswire, Business Wire and MarketWire. You’ll have to register as a journalist to get access to most of these sites, but it’s no big deal.
I use Stock.xchg a lot. The images are generic but with a little digital sleight of hand with Photoshop or another image editor, you can create visually interesting stuff.
Associations, conventions and visitor bureaus are good source of images, especially during shows and events. For example, you can find material at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show Web site. You can also try the sites that host these events such as
Photoshop Tutorials Blog has a huge list of sites that provide free photos. There’s bound to be some overlap with this list, so again, apologies are in order.
Free Stock Photos is a strange mix of ancient, scenery, weather and other photo categoriess. You never know what you’ll find there. The site also maintains a short list of other sites you can check for free stuff.
Free Photos Bank organizes its images into categories ranging from abstract to transportation. It’s a good site for backgrounds and patterns.
GIMP Savvy. You don’t have to be a users of GIMP, the open-source, image editor, to download copyright-free images from this site. A good bunch of them come from federal sites but there are some vintage photos that look interesting.
If you’re particularly interested in people and places, check Studio 25.
morgueFile has been undergoing an upgrade for quite a while. Try the archives while the site finishes remaking itself.
Free Pixels doesn’t have as much free stuff as other stock image sites but it’s a good source for objects like tools and food.
You can use anything you find on FreeFoto as long as it’s noncommerical, includes attribution and a link back to FreeFoto. The upside is that you’ll find some pretty good stuff there.
I like the uniqueness of the images at ImageBase. You won’t find a lot of material but what’s there is well done and “ungeneric.” Look there for PowerPoint templates too.
123RF has material similar to other free stock sites but when you cast a wide net, you increase the chances you’ll exactly what you’re looking for.
Vector graphics is what Vector Stock is all about. If you need graphics, try there.
Most people have heard of Stockvault, so I’ll use that one to wrap up my list. You’ll find a wealth of good-looking stock images there.