Top 5 free and legal images sources for your marketing campaigns
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and with social media posts and marketing a picture is key to attracting an audience to read your content. By adding a photo to your tweet for example, content gets an average of 35% more retweets than posting text alone. However with the complexity of copyright, knowing where your image is from is crucial in a world where we are all publishers.
Search engines such as Google can be a great way of finding beautiful images, but taking them for your own use without permission is not allowed and could land you in a lot of trouble.
Check out our top 5 roundup of some of the best quality and most user-friendly resources for images that are both free and legal for you to use on your website and in your marketing designs, but please always double check permission notices and usage rights for yourself before publishing. Read this post on the legal lingo decoded.
Pixabay offers high quality free images that can be used for any purpose including commercial uses. Images can be modified and no image credit is needed. The website is easy to use, just search for any subject. Registration is required for the largest size images but it is quick, easy and free.
Free Digital Photos is actually a paid-for image library however the smallest size version (which would be suitable for use on social media and for small website imagery) can be used for free with an image credit. You can register for a free account but it is not necessary. If you want to purchase a larger size the fees are reasonable.
Images courtesy of: Paul Gooddy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Piyachok Thawornmat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Wikimedia Commons is slightly less user-friendly but covers a broad range of subject areas and historical imagery. Most pictures are free to use under a creative commons license but make sure you check by clicking on ‘More details’ (For example, if an image of a painting links through to an original source such as an art gallery then don’t use it). Attribution is usually required if you use an image. Not all images are high quality as anyone can upload images to the database. A good place to start is to look at the ‘Quality Images’ section under ‘Highlights’.
Images courtesy of:
JimmeyTimmey at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ocdp (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Kirua (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ralf Roletschek / fahrradmonteur.de (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Xicotencatl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photopin is a useful tool allowing you to search photos using a creative commons licence on Flickr. You can search any subject and Photopin will provide image previews along with html attribution links for use on websites and blogs. By clicking on an image it links through to Flickr where you can double check the licensing. For other media (a leaflet or Twitter) simply credit the image name as below.
photo credit: Call centre worker via photopin (license)
photo credit: Catch and Release via photopin (license)
photo credit: Hotel en Tenerife via photopin (license)
photo credit: In Focus via photopin (license)
photo credit: OT via photopin (license)
Picjumbo has free high quality images for commercial work. There is no search function available (note: the search box is advertising and takes you to a paid-for image library). Instead images are sorted into categories for image discovery, with tags that can lead you on to similar subjects. Attribution is ‘greatly appreciated’ but not required.
Bonus image websites!
Our shortlist of image sites was chosen because of the ease of searchability. There are a number of other websites where new images are added regularly, but are difficult to navigate. The images are free for commercial use and if you have time to browse you might find something great. Here is a brief list of a few we like:
New photos added to the site weekly
10 new photos are uploaded every 10 days
While this site does have a search box the results don’t seem to match, so it’s included on this list.