No matter how you justify "borrowing" graphics, pictures, photographs and other digital images, copying and pasting other peoples' copyrighted creative works is almost always stealing and could get you in hot water ... expensive legal hot water!
There is no need to do it - ever.
I'm going to share my bookmarked free graphic sites collection with you. I checked all the links this morning and these sites are all currently active. They allow you to download, use and modify their images, royalty-free and without attribution (usually) for both personal and commercial purposes.
FAQ #1- Is this collection comprehensive? Aren't there other sites with free photos?
Answer - Yes and yes. These are just my favorite sites and they contain, collectively, millions of images - way, way more than you or I will ever need. I haven't included image sites with small or specialized niche collections. I realize there are many other sites online that could be added to the list. I just haven't needed any others.
FAQ #2 - Are you sure these are legal for my commercial marketing use?
FAQ #3 - Are you saying I shouldn't use paid stock photo sites?
Answer - No, I'm not saying that at all. In fact, buying an image with an attached license is my preferred way of securing images for my own marketing and products. But many folks on a tight budget feel they can't afford paid images right now. Hence, the reason for this "share" rather than putting yourself at risk helping yourself to copyrighted images on other peoples' sites.
FAQ #4 - Why don't you list Google Images, Flickr, and other popular image sites?
Answer - Google Images, Flickr, and other well-known image sites all have disclaimers ("weasel" words) that say it is impossible for them to know if images shown on their sites are copyrighted by their creators. Even though they have "advanced" image searches and filtered results, they still leave it to their users to verify that each image is applicable for free and open use.
20 Favorite Free-to-Use-and-Modify Image Sites (for commercial marketing purposes)
- Pixabay One of my favorites - currently 1.3 million images
- FreeRange Both photos and illustrations
- SnappyGoat Huge collection - 14 million free public domain/CC0 images, photos, and clipart
- Morguefile 350,000+ post production images
- Gratisography High-resolution images free of copyright restrictions
- Pexels Their claim: "Best free stock photos in one place"
- PicJumbo Their claim: "The Best of Best FREE Images"
- Unsplash Another favorite of mine
- ImageBase Most of the photos were taken by David Niblack
- PublicDomainArchive This is a directory of over 35 websites for high resolution free stock photos in the public domain (which means they carry no copyright requirements)
- Free-Images Search for public domain/CC0 images. "Search through millions of free stock photos, art and vector images"
- RawPixel "Safe to use images, PSD Mockups and Vectors"
- LibreShot "Free images for blogs or websites even for commercial use. No need to mention the author."
- Library of Congress Note: This is a wonderful and important collection, but be sure to check the images you want to use as not all of them are "without restrictions." The U.S. government is the largest repository of public domain works in the world.
- Archive.Org Images Another wonderful resource - but be sure to check the license of the image you want - not all are "free to use for whatever." Nevertheless, this is such a good resource (nearly 4 million images), I had to include it because I use it all the time!
- PublicDomainVectors 50,000 public domain vectors. Vectors are images scalable to any size and they still look great. Mostly clip-art type images.
- VectorPortal You want vector clip-art? "Over 35 million vector downloads."
- ReuseableArt Mostly for "crafters" - a smaller collection of vintage images.
- FreeImages Search "390,588 free photos and illustrations"
There you have it - 20 of my current favorite free image sites that you can use for your blogs, advertising, product graphics, web sites, sales offers, and just about everything else. If you ever have a question about usage rights, don't use the image. There are plenty more to choose from!
The very best to all of you,