Whoa! Have I upped my photography game or WHAT?

Er, it’s “or what”, actually. I really wish it wasn’t, but none of the photos on this post were taken by me – they’re all stock images which I’m using for free (and totally legally, I hasten to add!): I mean, if you couldn’t tell by the quality, you’d definitely be able to tell by the manicure in the one below, wouldn’t you? If that was my ACTUAL hand, you wouldn’t be able to see the text for the cuticles. GOD.

But I digress. With the exception of a few product shots on my shopping posts (and some of the older beauty ones), I take all of the photos for this blog myself – or get Terry to do it, in the case of most of the outfit photos. It’s become something of a point of honour with me over the years, and for no good reason, I might add – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using stock photos, and I do it all the time on my other blogs – but, well, I kinda like feeling that everything on this blog is my own, if that makes sense? The photos might leave a lot to be desired at times, but everything you see is my own creation, and I get a sense of satisfaction from that.

where to find free images for blogs

I also think that taking your own photos, or creating your own graphics, helps make your blog stand out: I’ve seen the free photos I’ve used on this post, for instance, crop up on quite a few other blogs, which is something you don’t have to worry about when you take the photos yourself. (Or you do, actually, because some people are dirty rotten thieves. But that’s another post for another time…) Let’s face it, though, as I said in this post, the pressure to have amazing images to go with every single blog post can be a real challenge for those of us who aren’t skilled with a camera, or who just don’t have the time/equipment/abundance of natural daylight to take photos. And that’s where free images for blogs come in.

There are probably dozens of sites which you can use to find free images for blogs: and I’d guess that the growing popularity of blogging (and probably the dawning realisation that if bloggers can’t find free stock photos to use, they’ll just steal them, the cheating cheats who cheat.) will give rise to many more of them. As I said, I use stock images on my other websites all the time, purely because I don’t have the time to take them myself (also, those sites aren’t “personal”, so it would feel a bit weird to me to have photos of myself/my home etc on them): some of them I pay for, but most I find on sites offering free images for blogs: here are a few of my favourites:

WHERE TO FIND FREE IMAGES FOR YOUR BLOG:

free images for blogs

PIXABAY

Probably my favourite site for free images, although it’s very popular, so you will see a lot of their images appearing elsewhere. Pixabay is where the images in this post came from (I added the text myself, obviously!): they don’t actually require any kind of attribution for the images, so you can literally just download them and use them, for free, and completely legally.

UNSPLASH

Unsplash add ten new photos every ten days, so you can usually find something new.

PICJUMBO

Not updated quite as often, but still a good source of free blog photos.

GRATISOGRAPHY

Gratisography has some really fun, whimsical shots – I actually find it quite a good source of inspiration for blog posts, because I’ll sometimes be browsing through their images and find that one of them sparks an idea for a post.

PEXELS

This site is a new one to me, so I haven’t had time to properly explore it, but I’ve already earmarked a few shots for future use on my other blogs!

STOCKSNAP.IO

This is a particularly good resource for fashion-based photos: and everything else, basically.

DEATH TO THE STOCK PHOTO

Death to the Stock Photo is a slightly different free image service, because rather than downloading the photos from their website, you’re emailed a new “photo pack” every month. What this means is that you never really know what kind of subject the photos will cover, so you will get some which aren’t of use to you, but I find that most of the selections tend to be things like landscapes, interiors, close-ups etc, which are non-specific enough that you could use them on a variety of different posts.

As I said, there tons of other sites like these offering free images for blogs, and it’s also worth noticing that, as these photos are copyright free, you’ll normally find some degree of overlap between most of them. They’re all worth a browse, though, and between them all, you should be able to find something suitable. (If, for some reason, you don’t, I also use Dreamstime, and have done for years: you do have to pay for these images, but they’re pretty reasonably priced, and they have thousands upon thousands of images to choose from!) Given how many legal, free images are out there now, there really is no excuse to steal images, but I know there’s a lot of confusion over this, so, just to re-iterate, here are some places you CAN’T find free blog images:

WHERE NOT TO LOOK FOR FREE IMAGES FOR BLOGS:

great sources of stock photos for bloggers

GOOGLE IMAGES

Google Images is a search engine, not an image bank: all of the images you see there belong to someone, and are subject to copyright. NEVER assume that an image you found on Google is free to use: ALWAYS ask permission from the owner. (And if you can’t find out who owns the copyright Don’t use the image.)

PINTEREST

Again, Pinterest is not a free image bank. You know all of those ‘Pinterest Roundup’ posts bloggers do? Those posts make me break out in a cold sweat at the thought of the invoices they could be landed with for using other peoples images. You CANNOT just take images from Pinterest and use them on your blog, and putting a link at the bottom saying “Image source: Pinterest” won’t help you when an angry copyright owner decides to take you to small claims court. (Yes, it could happen, and it HAS happened.) Pinterest might be where you found the image, but ‘Pinterest’ didn’t go out and take all of those photos, then upload them to their website – real, live people did that, and those are the people whose permission you need to ask. Saying “Image source: Interest” is like me taking photos from your blog and writing “Image source: The Internet” under them. Don’t risk it.

OTHER BLOGS

If you’ve ever had someone take your photos or text and use them without your permission, you’ll know how upsetting it can be. And if you’ve never had that happen, all you really need to know is that it’s illegal, so, you know, don’t.

ANYWHERE THAT DOESN’T SPECIFICALLY STATE THE IMAGES ARE FREE TO USE

I could really have just skipped the other points and gone straight to this one: the bottom line is that unless it’s specifically stated that images on a website are free to use, you can’t use them without permission. (Disclaimer: there is a ‘fair use’ clause in US law which provides some exemptions to this: not being in the US, however, I prefer to err on the side of caution and ask permission first…) On that note, while most of the sites in the list above place no restriction on the use of their images, some DO: some may require you to add an image credit or link back to their site, others may have restrictions on the type of usage you’re allowed (i.e. they may allow you to use the photos online, but not in print, or similar), so always read the information on the site and make sure you’re sticking to their terms!

Finally, I’m always on the lookout for more sources of free images for blogs, so if you can recommend some I haven’t mentioned here, please do!

16 Comments
  1. Thank you SO much for this post – it’s actually really weird because I was going to tweet today asking if anyone could explain stock photos properly to me and then you posted this!! It’s a really helpful post, and I have been able to correct past mistakes, thank you. I appreciate it!

    XXX

  2. Yes!!! I love this post. I have actually messaged people and told them not to use images from Pinterest before haha. I’ve recently used some images from Flickr that have creative commons permission. Generally I do take my own photos though,

  3. Great post! I was actually in the middle of googling stock image websites for a blog post I want to post tomorrow, took a mini break and wondered off to bloglovin and I came across this post on my explore page. Perfect! Thank you 🙂

  4. Hi, Amber,
    Thank you very much for these tips! I am new to the blogging world since retiring 7/1/15 and deciding to fulfill my dream of becoming an image consultant. I found pixabay by trial and error but this is so much better!

  5. I love this post Amber. LOVE it. I’m a high school librarian, so copyright is important to me. You are so right about “Image source: Pinterest.” I seriously cringe with that one! As if.

    Anyway, I just want to applaud you on this post. More of us need to follow the above mentioned and set the standard!

    Thank you!

    Ann from Kremb de la Kremb

  6. This is such a helpful post. I had a couple of these bookmarked, but I am happy to add some other options. The copyright issue has been on my mind a lot, since I want to write about some design topics that will require me to branch out and ask for permission to use photos I don’t have access to take. I have just steered clear, since I do not know where to start, but it is limiting. If you have advice on how to respectfully ask for permission, I would love to read it!

    1. I’ve always either taken my own photos or used agency ones, so that’s not something I have any experience of, unfortunately! I would think a quick email explaining what you want to use the image for would suffice, though!

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