Most journalists rely on pictures to bring stories to life. However, it is often hard to find high-resolution images of people and places that do not cost the earth.
For your next article, consider one of these ten handy websites for accessing free images. Do note that some websites have paid-for options too, while others are free but come with different licence agreements, so always make sure you check the terms and conditions before going into download mode.
A free image site for pictures uploaded by photographers from around the world that can be downloaded and used without the need to credit the author. Simply use keywords in the search bar and find an image that matches your topic.
All images are free to use, modify and share for any personal or commercial use. Attribution is not required but upon downloading the file, there is an option to accredit images through a copy and paste function which makes the good practice easy-peasy.
Pixabay works in much the same way as Unsplash. It is a free image site which you can use to download images, illustrations and vectors, but also videos, all without spending a penny or requiring permission.
Do note that search results also feature sponsored content from Shutterstock, which can be purchased as royalty-free images.
The problem with stock image sites is that they can quickly become quite one-note and generic. It can also be time-consuming to find the right image, and even then, you might struggle to stand out against your competitors.
Death To Stock (for short) looks to 'kill the stock block'. It offers specialised media packs, which are shot by photographers around the world, edited by the in-house team and made available to its subscribers.
There are membership tiers available priced at $12 a month for brands and businesses and $42 a month for designers and agencies, discounted when paid annually. This gets you unlimited downloads and access to the full database, which is updated monthly.
If this is outside your budget, you have some free options too. There are downloadable free goodie bag packs, a standard 14-day free trial, or occasional free photo packs if you sign up with your email.
All images are under a content-end user licence. This means that you can use the images however you see fit, so long as you are not redistributing them as your own. There are also some restrictions to what the images can be used for.
Unless otherwise stated, all content on the Creative Commons website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence, though there are other types of Creative Commons licences.
The 4.0 licence means that the material is free to copy, share and adapt for any use, including commercial, so long as appropriate credit is given. The website also provides public domain content, which means you can help yourself to it.
There are more than just images available too, you can also find literary works, videos, audio and other research. For images, head to the search function and use keywords to find what you are looking for. You can also narrow the search by filtering by commercial or modified use, and there are other filters on the search results page - a useful one is the drop down menu to filter by specific licences.
Frank Noon/Mousetrap Media
Flickr is well-established in the photojournalism community as a Creative Commons platform - but it calls itself an 'online photo management and sharing application'.
In other words, photographers can create an account and upload any images which they own the copyright to, and set their own terms of licencing and usage to get their work seen more broadly.
You can search through profiles of photographers and the search results to find an image and use it according to the individual restrictions in place.
Most users operate a Creative Commons licence specifying particular use or attribution, while others are marked as all rights reserved, which means you cannot use the images in any way without first contacting the user and reaching a licence agreement.
This stock image site offers photos, illustrations and vectors under a variety of licensing options, from free non-commercial use to creative commons. This means you can download most images for free and use them without attribution. That said, if you are feeling generous and if you have the budget, you can show your appreciation by donating any amount via PayPal or Moneybookers.
What makes StockVault different to other stock image sites is that the images on the homepage are handpicked by the team, which makes it a tad bit nicer to use.
Sometimes, what you are after is more specialised or niche. You can trawl through stock image sites but that can be an ultimately fruitless endeavour.
Launched in July 2017, We Animals Archive is an image archive database created by photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur with the aim of highlighting the lives of animals used for food, fashion, entertainment, work, religion, and experimentation.
It compiles images and videos by the We Animals Archive team. Browse by category or search by keyword and then request the images you would like to use, specifying how you intend to use them. Non-profit organisations may not have to pay but businesses do.
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This article was first published on 31 July 2019 by Jacob Granger. It has been updated on 4 August 2023 by Marcela Kunva, removing websites that are defunct and including new ones.
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