Finding the right picture for a particular project can be a pain when you have a limited budget available. Luckily, there are plenty of places on the web to find images which are available for free use. Most “free” images still have some sort of conditions attached to usage, so always check the terms associated with an individual picture before you publish it. Below is a list I’ve compiled of useful free image sites with some brief comments on each, so that you can get an idea of what they cover.
Easy Stock Photos
Public domain pictures in loads of categories. Subjects you may not find elsewhere include Attractions, Education, Events, Music and Tools & Machinery. Not as many pictures under each category as elsewhere, but generally good quality.
Search engine for stock photos over multiple collections. Registration is required and photos found will have individual licenses for use which you need to ensure you comply with. The “featured searches” section on the front page gives you a good idea of the search index’s depth.
Public domain image gallery. Large number of nature pictures.
Good general selection, especially strong on UK-specific images.
Extensive collection of animal pictures.
Nice selection of topics covered, especially strong on animals and travel.
The usual section types, plus specialities including useful Christmas and Halloween sections, images of gemstones and hearts and a whole section on Bruges!
Wide range of nicely categorised images. Good selection of backdrop images. Home, office, sports, seasonal, technology & transport, objects and nature are among the categories, with good numbers of images in each. Requires registration to see all pictures.
Lots of nature and space pictures.
“Large online free photo collection”. Great for textures, as well as including a full range of other topics.
“Public image reference archive” which “contains free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use”. Great selection, well organised into sections.
Some nice photos with UK locations and transport well covered and a good range of objects, abstract & concept images and backgrounds & textures. Registration required to download images.
Good selection, especially strong on USA location travel photos.
Royalty-free stock photos on a full range of categories. The “light effects” category has some nice ideas.
Large site – includes good balance of nature and industrial images & selections of textures and 3D renders.
Huge gallery of images. Requires registration.
Uncle Sam’s Photos
“A directory of the U.S. government’s free stock photo sites.” Lots of useful stuff on the environment, science, transportation, health and people. American history too.
Free image gallery with some striking photos.
Wikimedia has a fantastic directory which has to be the list of free image resources currently available. Its designed to help people avoid naughtily posting copyrighted images on Wikipedia but is enormously helpful whatever your need for free pictures is. Another useful resource hosted on the Wikimedia toolserver is FIST – the Free Image Search Tool. Wikimedia Commons also has an enormous collection of freely usable media files.
Finally, you can search on Google or Flickr for free images. In Google, use advanced search and look for creative commons pictures by selecting “free to use, share or modify, even commercially” under Usage Rights. Flickr has a special section for pictures with a Creative Commons license.