The Ultimate Directory Of Free Image Sources

So, you need an image for your blog?

We’ve spent some time categorizing our favorite sources for free images and organizing them in such a way as to help you find what you’re looking for. Here are the criteria we’ve examined:

Subjects: Does a site focus on specific genres of images, or is it a mass collection of various image types?

High Resolution: Lots of great image resources emerged in the pre-Web 2.0 phase, but it wasn’t until bandwidth dramatically increased that allowed for the uploading of much higher resolution images suitable for editing and printing.

License: The licenses vary extremely from source to source. Some are listed as Creative Commons (with variations on attribution and availability for commercial use), others are Public Domain, and still others have unique licenses that maintain copyright while allowing users to download or embed photographs. To better understand Creative Commons licenses, check out our post on Images, Copyright, & Creative Commons.

Safety: Government sites and many specific subject collections are extremely safe for students to use. But before you start using one of these sites for student blogging, check out our safety note and examine the site to see if you find it appropriate for students. Some sites are terrible for filtering out inappropriate content, while others display advertising from paid stock-photo websites that can often be questionable, depending on the age level of students.

The Ultimate Directory Of Free Image Sources

Search Engines

While these websites do not actually contribute image content themselves, they’re able to index images in a way that makes it easier to search for free content. Because the images come from a variety of sources, it is important to note that these websites tend to have a worse track record when it comes to filtering inappropriate content for students.

Category Favorite: Bing Images

Bing Images

When it comes to searching for images for my blog, Bing is the clear winner for one simple reason; while Google and Yahoo also allow you to filter by license types, Bing is the only one that will search strictly public domain images. You can’t beat public domain when it comes to blog images. You can freely modify images, use them commercially, and no attribution (or research into attribution) is needed.

Bing Images

Subjects: Various
Description: Searches a wide variety of sources
High Resolution: Varies, can be filtered by image size
License: Varies, can filter (even by public domain)
Safety: Defaults to safe search

Compfight

Subjects: Various
Description: Searches other sources including Flickr
High Resolution: Varies, variety of sizes available
License: Creative Commons and Creative Commons Non-Commercial
Safety: Not safe for student searches

Creative Commons Search

Subjects: Various
Description: Offers access to popular Creative Commons search services
High Resolution: Varies
License: Creative Commons (varies which particular license)
Safety: As safe as the search site you access

Everystockphoto

Subjects: Various
Description: Searches other sources including Flickr
High Resolution: Usually
License: Varies
Safety: Not safe for student searches

Google Images

Subjects: Various
Description: Searches a wide variety of sources
High Resolution: Varies, can be filtered by image size
License: Varies, can filter by license type.
Safety: Defaults to safe search

HiveStock

Subjects: Various
Description: Searches other sources, identifies color composition of photo
High Resolution: Usually
License: Varies
Safety: Mostly safe

Photo Pin

Subjects: Various
Description: Searches other sources including Flickr
High Resolution: Varies
License: Creative Commons and Creative Commons Non-Commercial
Safety: Not safe for student searches

Yahoo Images

Subjects: Various
Description: Searches a wide variety of sources
High Resolution: Varies, can be filtered by image size
License: Varies, can filter by images labeled for reuse
Safety: Defaults to safe search

Large Crowdsourced Collections

While some sources individually upload original original images, others rely on vast networks of users to upload content that can be aggregated in one place. Crowdsourced collections often offer an API that can be used by other websites (such as many of the search engines, listed above) to search through these collections in a more relevant manner.

Category Favorite: Flickr

Flickr

Flickr sharing has grown by 170% since Yahoo upped its storage amount to a 1TB per user. As of 2014, its 93 million global users share 1 million photographs a day, many of which are licensed as Creative Commons, and perfect to use in your blog!

Flickr

Subjects: Various
Description: The gold standard of user-submitted photographs
High Resolution: Usually
License: Can filter by Creative Commons licenses
Safety: Defaults to safe search

Wikimedia Commons

Subjects: Various
Description: Hosts crowdsourced media files
High Resolution: Varies
License: Varies, but usually Creative Commons
Safety: Not safe for student searches

U.S. Government Collections

Images that are taken or prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person’s official duties are not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work.

The sources listed below are not the only government sources for images, but espouse some of the largest collections. Almost all images are public domain (unless otherwise noted), of various resolutions, and safe for students to search.

Category Favorite: Visible Earth

Visible Earth

Visible Earth is a beautiful collection of land masses, oceans, and atmospheric events as seen from outer space.

DefenseImagery.mil

Subjects: Military

Defense Video And Imagery Distribution System

Subjects: Military, NASA

National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library

Subjects: Marine life

National Park Service Digital Image Archives

Subjects: National parks

NOAA Photo Library

Subjects: Nature, People, Space

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Subjects: Animals, Plants

U.S. Department of Defense

Subjects: Military, Politics

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Subjects: Animals, Nature

Visible Earth

Subjects: Earth photographs from outer space

Unique Collections

These unique collections are contributed by individuals or small to medium-sized networks of users. While the content of these site vary widely, there are some great hidden gems that larger crowdsourced collections do not have.

Category Favorite: Getty Images

Getty Images

If you run a blog and need to access any sort of news-related images: technology, celebrities, or sports, you know that it’s nearly impossible to find the images you need marked as Public Domain or Creative Commons. With the Getty Images Embed program, you can embed images directly on your blog while Getty still controls the copyright. Win-win!

Category Favorite: Pixabay

Pixabay

A vast library of high resolution, public domain images? Yes, please!

BurningWell

Subjects: Nature, People, Textures
Description: A growing collection of photos donated by photographers around the world
High Resolution: Typically not
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Creativity 103

Subjects: Abstract, Background, Textures
Description: A library of creative design elements to use in your own works or for inspiration
High Resolution: Yes
License: Attribution if used commercially
Safety: Yes

DHD Multimedia Gallery

Subjects: Random, Various
Description: An eclectic collection of a few thousand photographs
High Resolution: Varies
License: Free for personal and commercial purposes
Safety: Yes

EduPic

Subjects: Various
Description: A set of photographs and graphics sorted by academic subject
High Resolution: No
License: Free for use by educators and students
Safety: Yes

Freeimages

Subjects: Various
Description: Large collection of crowd-sourced photographs
High Resolution: Usually
License: Can use commercially, terms: Freeimages Terms
Safety: Mostly safe

Geek Philosopher

Subjects: Various
Description: A medium-sized collection of free images
High Resolution: No
License: Free for any purpose in exchange for a link
Safety: Yes

Getty Images: Embed

Subjects: Various
Description: Enormous collection of beautiful photographs, free to embed on websites
High Resolution: Yes
License: Free to embed for non-commercial purposes
Safety: Defaults to mostly-safe search

Gratisography

Subjects: Random, Artistic
Description: New high resolution photographs added each week
High Resolution: Yes
License: CC0 (public domain)
Safety: Yes

Imagebase

Subjects: People, Nature, Objects
Description: Several free photographs listed in very broad categories
High Resolution: Varies
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

morgueFile

Subjects: Various
Description: Crowd-sourced content for creative types
High Resolution: Usually
License: Unique license for creatives
Safety: Mostly safe

Photos Public Domain

Subjects: Various
Description: A collection of photographs released into the public domain
High Resolution: Varies
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Picjumbo

Subjects: Various, Artistic
Description: High resolution photos added each month for creative use
High Resolution: Yes
License: Free use (including commercial), attribution appreciated
Safety: Mostly safe

Pics4Learning

Subjects: Various
Description: Free, copyright-friendly images for students and educators
High Resolution: Varies
License: Free use for educators and students in print, multimedia, and video productions
Safety: Yes

Pixabay

Subjects: Various
Description: Find and share outstanding free images
High Resolution: Usually
License: Public Domain
Safety: Mostly safe

Public Domain Image

Subjects: Various
Description: A collection of photographs released into the public domain
High Resolution: Yes
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Public Domain Photos

Subjects: Various
Description: A collection of photographs most of which are assigned to public domain
High Resolution: Varies
License: Various
Safety: Yes

Public Domain Pictures

Subjects: Various
Description: A collection of photographs released into the public domain
High Resolution: Varies
License: Public Domain
Safety: Mostly safe

Public Domain Review

Subjects: Art, Literature, Publications
Description: Contains truly public-domain images, those whose copyrights have expired
High Resolution: Varies
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Totally Free Images

Subjects: Art, Astronomy, History, Maps
Description: Contains truly public-domain images, those whose copyrights have expired
High Resolution: Varies
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Unsplash

Subjects: Random, Artistic
Description: 10 new images every 10 days
High Resolution: Yes
License: CC0 (public domain)
Safety: Yes

WorldImages

Subjects: Various cultural and artistic photos from California State University
Description: Over 100,000 images displayed in various portfolios
High Resolution: Usually not
License: Creative Commons – Attribution, Non-commercial
Safety: Yes

Specific Subjects

Several image sites specialize in certain subjects. Whether they use the Flickr API, or are a unique collection, these sites focus on organization of content to make it easier for users to find images in a given niche.

Category Favorite: The Getty – Open Content Program

The Getty

Not affiliated with our other favorite, Getty Images, The Getty Museum showcases thousands of works of art, captured beautifully in high resolution.

Animal Photos

Subjects: Animals
Description: Large collection of animal photos, especially birds.
High Resolution: No
License: Creative Commons
Safety: Yes

Car Pictures

Subjects: Cars
Description: Car pictures indexed by make
High Resolution: Typically not, though a variety of sizes are displayed
License: Creative Commons
Safety: Yes

Free Nature Pictures

Subjects: Nature, Landscapes
Description: Over 1,000 free pictures of nature
High Resolution: Varies
License: Free for any purpose in exchange for a link
Safety: Yes

The Getty: Open Content Program

Subjects: Art
Description: Over 87,000 images available from the J. Paul Getty Museum
High Resolution: Yes
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Hubble Site

Subjects: Space
Description: Explore the universe with images from Hubble’s eye
High Resolution: Yes
License: Public domain (a few exceptions)
Safety: Yes

PhotoEverywhere

Subjects: Geography, Cities, Landmarks
Description: 3600 images sorted geographically
High Resolution: Yes
License: Creative Commons – Attribution
Safety: Yes

Realia Project

Subjects: Culture
Description: Faculty-reviewed media for the teaching and study of modern languages and cultures
High Resolution: Usually not
License: Free use for education and research, attribution required
Safety: Yes

Reusable Art

Subjects: Arts, Crafts
Description: Contains truly public-domain images, those whose copyrights have expired
High Resolution: Usually not
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Rijks Museum

Subjects: Art
Description: This museum in Amsterdam offers images of its public domain artwork for download
High Resolution: Yes
License: Public Domain (where applicable)
Safety: Yes

Clipart

Sometimes you just need a diagram, cartoon, or something other than a photograph to help tell a story in your blog. This collection of sources will provide thousands of clipart images to use for free in your blog.

Category Favorite: Clkr

Clker

With a Public Domain (CC0) license and creative online tools to help you create clipart, you won’t want to miss this site!

Clker

Subjects: Various
Description: Crowd-sourced clipart, can make and share designs online
High Resolution: No
License: CC0 (public domain)
Safety: Mostly safe

DK’s Clipart

Subjects: Various
Description: A private collection of thousands of pieces of clipart
High Resolution: No
License: Copyrighted, available for free personal and school use http://www.clipart.dk.co.uk/faq#terms
Safety: Yes

Open Clipart

Subjects: Various
Description: Crowd-sourced clipart
High Resolution: No
License: Public Domain
Safety: Yes

Have any favorites to add?

Let us know in the comments if you have any favorites you’d like to see on the list!

Dan Leeman

Passionate about education and technology that aids the learning process. Helping teachers do awesome things with Edublogs. Follow me on twitter @dan_leeman!

10 Responses

  1. Marshall Estes says:

    Dan, Thank you so very much for taking time to publish this awesome list of free image sources. Getty embed is one that I never would have suspected Getty would do. Also the Getty museum resource. Given the bad publicity Getty Images has gotten over the years, I am happy to see some give to the public. Pixabay is also one of my favorites and the list of government sources adds to the ones I already use.

    Lastly thank you for using a captcha plugin humans can read.

    • Dan Leeman says:

      Hi Marshall,

      I’m glad that this list is of use to you! I agree, Getty Image’s move to allow users to embed content is an enormous step forward in digital rights management. I think it was a bit of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” in regards to thwarting piracy, but it really seems like a great PR move and win-win situation. They get to control the embed code and get free advertising, and bloggers get an enormous chunk of content they can’t get anywhere else.

      Thanks for the comment :)

  2. Helen Holshouser says:

    This is one of the most complete
    and wonderfully detailed , educational articles I’ve ever come across on this subject so important to all bloggers!
    It deserves to be in a national magazine, and somehow highly identifiable for bloggers! Thank you!

  3. armonia01 says:

    Awesome.

  4. deeload says:

    Thank you for this outstanding piece of work!!
    Highly appreciated here.

  5. Bob says:

    Please also check out http://www.goodfreephotos.com for thousands of totally free travel photos. I’d appreciate it a lot if you could add it to your list. Thanks

  6. Sandra says:

    Incredibly useful resource – thank you SOOO much ;-)

  7. George says:

    Hi guys,

    You should also check out https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/ – with over 20,000 organised images taken by teachers for teachers.

    One of the best free ed resources around.

    George

  8. Laura says:

    This site has a great collection of public domain images, including vintage, modern and nature. Great for blogs and web design: http://gaderinge.com.

  9. Tobias says:

    Hi, one more site for your free photo sources list. I search images for my blog on the following sites. All photos are licensed under the cc0 license. http://creativecommons.photos

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