Royalty free images for your website or blog can be awfully expensive despite having the word “free.” Remember you still have to pay for them the first time. You just don’t have to pay any additional cost after that.
Most bloggers and web designers do not have the $800 to spend on a picture of a chocolate bar, so they head straight to the websites that provide quality royalty free images that are actually “free.”
Not every website that offers royalty free images is as good as the next however, which can make it pretty frustrating for those looking for one simple picture. A lot of royalty free images sites have certain specialties or are meant for one purpose (such as web design) over another (such as printed design). Listed below are some of the best places to find high quality, free stock photos, as well as who each site may be best suited for.
Unlike some royalty free images websites which also contain several images that are NOT free, stock.xchng is completely free 100% of the time. There are also an impressive amount of stock images contained on there, holding well over 350 000 images which have been contributed by over 30 000 different photographers.
The one downside to stock.xchng is that it is a very popular site. This means that the high quality royalty free images that can be found on the site can also be found on a lot of other websites on the Internet. But, if you aren’t too picky and don’t mind using a stock photo that has been used on a lot of other websites, then stock.xchng is a great place to go.
BEST FOR: Web designers, illustrators, web developers, and print designers.
2. Freerange Stock
Freerange Stock has considerably less inventory than stock.xchng, but they are a bit more unique than what you will find on a lot of other royalty free images sites. This site works with a small team of professional photographers who supply the website with these photos. Each image is uploaded and immediately tinkered with so that the color and the image are both sharp and clear. The end result is free, great looking and high impact pictures. Their goal is to provide quality over quantity, so this website is definitely not a one-stop-shop for most web designers who need a lot of images, and fast.
BEST FOR: Those with more creative websites who want quality and more unique photos
3. Pixel Perfect Digital
Pixel Perfect Digital has approximately 7500 royalty free images available, and while that may seem like a small number, each image that is on this site is polished and of quality. Each photo is also accompanied by a short story, adding a bit more character to the images and the site itself. The photo resolution of most of these royalty free images is fantastic, and the illustrations are beautiful.
BEST FOR: Web designers and print designers
Morguefile has been around far before most of the others. Morguefile was started back in 1996 by creative folks, and was made for creative folks. There are close to 10 000 pages with 24 royalty free images each, and the vast majority of images have great resolution. The search function is also something that most people love, as you can filter your results by several different characteristics, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Unlike a lot of royalty free images on the web however, Morguefile does ask that you credit the photographer if you use their images. The site can also be slow to load, but be patient – it’s worth your time.
BEST FOR: Artists, designers, illustrators, and teachers.
Flickr is certainly one of the most recognizable names around. There is a wide range of different stock photos available on the site, from the most amateur of photos to professional quality images. Yahoo! has also purchased Flickr recently, so the site is well managed and put together.
In order to find any images that you want to be able to use in your web design, go to the “Advanced Search” and then click on the “Creative Common’s license” box.
BEST FOR: Those without a need for high resolution, such as web designers and web developers.
With over 16 000 images from 4000 different photographers, Stockvault is a common place for people who want royalty free images. Don’t expect to find images with the best resolution on this site, but the interface for Stockvault is friendly and it is easier to use than a lot of other royalty free images sites.
BEST FOR: Web designers
deviantART is another one of the more popular sites, and for a good reason. The site initially started out as a place for both digital and traditional media artists to show off their work, but it has since grown larger and larger. There are a ton of high quality and absolutely beautiful images available on this website, and you can download most of the images without having to register. It’s quick, easy, and simple, and a lot of the artwork that you will be able to download is unique and, oftentimes, breathtaking.
BEST FOR: The artistic type, web designers, and print designers.
Royalty Free Images On Paid Sites
What some people don’t know is that you can still find royalty free images on a lot of paid sites as well. Dreamstime, for example, features 7 million images taken by close to 80,000 photographers, all of which are usually high resolution and easy to download. The one drawback to this large site is that the search function is quite limited. Images can only be sought out by keyword, rather than by other features such as color, orientation and model options.
Another paid site is Fotolia. The royalty free images that are on the site are usually good, however the photos do change on a daily basis so what you may have seen yesterday probably won’t be there today. They may be of slightly lesser quality than the paid images, but who’s really complaining when it’s free?