- Where to find images you can use legally
- How to verify the usage rights on sites with both free-to-use and copyrighted images
As noted in the syllabus and other course readings, your final projects should be publishable outside of academia. That means that all images and other media should either be created by you or shared under a free-to-remix license like a Creative Commons license. The exceptions to this are any images that you have written permission to use from the copyright holder. Please thoroughly review our copyright readings to get a better understanding of the rationale for the Creative Commons license.
Here are some resources that might help you find usable images. Not all images shared from these sites are necessarily free-to-use. Be sure to review the license details before using it in your collage. Also, be sure to save the link you used to save this image so you can cite it in your blog post.
Make sure to choose the appropriate license type from the “Any license” dropdown on the search results page. All types listed other than “Any license” are types of Creative Commons or Public Domain. On any image, the specific license restrictions are listed below the photo, with the license type linking to additional information about what uses are authorized.
Includes thousands of worldwide images licensed under Creative Commons or verified to be in the Public Domain.
More than 700,000 searchable photos and textures distributed for reuse without restrictions, with the license details clearly listed on each image page.
More than 400,000 searchable stock images, textures and abstract graphics contributed by users around the world.
Several million royalty-free stock images contributed by photographers. (Make sure you search in the “Free Images” part of the site.)
More than 350,000 stock images, most of them available to download at high-resolution.
Searchable collection of more than 25,000 images, all licensed with the Creative Commons CC0, meaning they can be used and modified for any purpose.
This site started as a popular Tumblr blog several years ago, and now includes thousands of images organized into collections.
This site makes it possible to search a number of other free image sites at the same time. Make sure to follow the links to verify the image’s license at the original source!
Another easy-to-search resource that pulls free images from a number of sites, with full documentation of the license for each photo.
Thousands of digitized historic images and illustrations in the public domain with no restrictions on use.
Access to the California State University IMAGE Project, which includes about 100,000 international images organized by content areas and searchable.
Photos produced by U.S. Government employees are copyright-free. Many federal agencies publish high-resolution photos on Flickr, which also makes it easy to verify your right to use the photo. Here are some additional hubs for images produced by the federal government:
- National Gallery of Art: Historic art works and portraits (usage details)
- DVIDS: Department of Defense photos and other imagery (usage details)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Outdoors and wildlife (usage details)
- National Park Service: Landscapes and the natural world
- NASA Image Galleries: Space and technology, historic images
- National Archives Catalog: Historic documents and imagery (check each item for copyright details)
- Public Health Image Library: Health-related images (check each item for copyright details)
Doing a basic Google search for images is not a good way to find free-to-use material. However, there is a dropdown option under “Search Tools” to filter results by license type. After finding an image this way, you must still click through to the website to locate the specific permission details.
This list includes dozens of other sites that offer public domain images, though make sure to read the details since some sites include copyrighted images as well.
Other free image sites to explore…
These sites are more experimental or niche, and often lack searchability, but may still be worth exploring for unique images:
- StockSnap: Fairly small but easy-to-search collection of CC0 images
- deathtothestockphoto.com: Collections of themed images and video footage
- Picjumbo: Searchable free and premium images
- Life of Pix: Small but high-quality selection of photos
- Realistic Shots: New photos every week, all licensed as CC0
- Magdeleine: Curated images organized by category and license type
- FancyCrave: Two new images each day, organized by category
- Gratisography: A quirky collection of images that are all free to use
- Startup Stock Photos: Free-to-use images related to startup companies and culture
- Cupcake: One photographer’s collection of CC0 images