There are a ton of free photo repositories out there. The quality of the images will definitely vary from amazing to not so great. You have sort through and find what you can use. Making sure images are actually free is hard because a lot of commercial images get pirated and listed on sites as free. To avoid this, I have three types of sites that I look at for free photos:
First, I try to look for photographer exchange sites, where photographers trade photos with one another. Second, I look for sites of individual photographers (pro ad amateur) who have decided to give their stuff away. Third, I look for public domain repositories, specifically government photo repositories. Here are five sites I found that meet that criteria.
- stock.xchng – Getty images recently bought this outfit, so they must have seen some value here. From the site: “an alternative for expensive stock photography. The idea was to create a site where creative people could exchange their photos for inspiration or work. The site has evolved into the massive community you see today — there are over 2,500,000 registered users and around 400,000 photos online.”
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s online digital media library – Excellent resource for nature photos, including plants, animals, landscapes, etc. From the site: “Here you will find a wide assortment of selected images, publications, video and audio clips that are in the public domain. You are free to use them as you wish – no permission is necessary. We do ask that you give credit to the photographer or creator and the US Fish and Wildlife Service”
- Photos8 – From the site: “Photos8.com is a repository for free photos. and you may use these images for any purpose, including commercial. more information about my License and Copyrights. also you read the Frequently Asked Questions, and if you have any questions please feel free to Contact Me. Being a graphic designer has made me fall in love with all things creative, including photography. and the truth is photography is just damn fun and there is something really special about capturing that perfect shot.”
- pdphoto.org – From the site: I’m the creator, administrator, programmer, photographer, and owner of this site. My personal website is here. I make my living as a computer programmer in San Diego California. When you see comments by jons, that’s me. I make enough money as a programmer that I don’t need to get any extra income form photography. But taking pictures is one of my favorite hobbies. So I’m making the photos available to anyone who wants them.
- Free Nature Pictures.com – From the site: nature, landscape, and wildlife photos free to use for any purpose. You can use these images of nature on your website or blog, in books, graphic design, homework assignments and school projects, background pictures, anything you can imagine. All we ask for in return for our free pictures is a link.