Not everyone has the need or money for purchasing licenses for images. There are actually quite a few places where you can obtain free images, stock photo agencies being one of the big sources. As always, be sure to review the licensing terms prior to use. Although you don’t have to pay for the free images, they are still under copyright and must follow licensing guidelines.
Most of the top stock photo agencies have a section of their website dedicated to free stock photos. Though they are free, in many instances, you will have the option to download a version of the photo with higher quality for additional cost. This is the case at Dreamstime. At iStockphoto, there are featured free photos, illustrations, video, audio and flash files. The featured files change each week and/or month and will require a fee if you need the extended license. While you are viewing the free image, there are also other suggested free photos. Shutterstock offers a free photo and vector file each week. There is no apparent up-charge for the extended license. Fotolia has a free section on their website that shares several photos for you to choose from, as well as no charge for high quality images. You are given the opportunity to select which size you want the image.
Aside from going directly to the stock photo agencies, there are other websites that offer free images. RGBStock.com offer more then 50.000 high quality free stock photos. SXC.hu (stock.xchng) is one of the leading free stock photo website and now owned by GettyImages. FreeDigitalPhotos.net is an example of one of these types of sites. The free images are small and do require an attribution. The larger sizes will cost money for the download, but do not require an attribution. Flickr has a spot on their site called “The Commons“, where they have a library of photos with no known copyright restrictions. Most of these are considered public domain and available for the use of anyone, though you should exercise caution and common sense with the use of these images. They are not guaranteed to be public domain, and to protect yourself, you may want to do an independent analysis to determine whether you can use the image in the way you intend.
Image ©Andreasr / iStockphoto.com