8 Places to Find Free Stock Photography

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Your business website and blog will benefit from photos. Images are the most effective marketing tools today, next to videos. They have the power to capture emotions and imaginations of your readers and website visitors. But it may not always be possible for you to post images that you have taken and own the copyright to. So where do you find images to place on your site?

Of course there is the vast storehouse of images online - Google Images. But you're almost certain to violate somebody's copyright when you use an image from Google Images. If you think they'll never know, you're wrong. A clever tool such as TinEye, which lets users find out if any image they own has been used on the internet, will catch you out instantly. No business brand needs the inevitably following embarrassment or cost.

There are other places where you can get stock photography without breaking rules. You can use these photos commercially, and the best part is they are free to use. Here's a look at some of these.

1. Openphoto

OpenPhoto is an old image library. It's been around since 1998 and since then has managed to amass an impressive collection of stock images. It doesn't have the most attractive site layout, but the categories are arranged neatly. They are well-chosen categories including people, portraits, study, shapes, still life and even light, feelings and concepts.

2. Flickr

Flickr being the largest website for photo sharing on the web is bound to have some excellent and relevant images for the idea you want to convey. But beware, many of the uploaders don't allow their images to be used commercially. To make sure that you're not breaking copyright rules when using photos from Flickr, use the Advanced Search Page when searching. Select the option which lets you search only within content that is licensed by Creative Commons (CC). To be doubly sure that you're doing everything right, when you find a photo that you like, take a look at the right hand column for any rights reserved and other image use details.

3. Unprofound

Unprofound is great site started by someone who also had trouble finding photos he needed. He got together cameras and a few friends and took hundreds of photos over the years which he has generously posted for our use, "no strings attached". There is no need for registration unlike Flickr, it's non-profit and there are no ads. Photos are categorized by color not subject, so that may be a little limiting. But if you look around, you're sure to find some photo you like.

4. Morguefile

Morguefile has a great search tool with several filters such as color, rating, size, keyword and category. You won't have to spend any time wading through shots which are not relevant to your website. There is no registration needed and there are no restrictions on the images.

5. Freerange

Freerange can return irrelevant images that are not related to your keywords in any way. But you'll find good resolution photos of people, animals, places or abstracts if you look around a little. You will need to sign up to be able to download. All the images on the site are at least 2400 by 1600 and Freerange allows you full license to use them as you like in personal or commercial projects.

6. Free Photos Bank

If you're looking for great abstract images for your background or digital artwork and unusual images that cannot be categorized easily, then Free Photos Bank is a good place to go. They do have a range of regular photos of people, animals and places, but these are typical and unexceptional.

7. Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a limited photo resource where you can go as a last resort. This is the storehouse where those Wikipedia images are drawn from. They are mostly free of copyright or have a creative license for commercial reuse. The quality of images varies but you can go here if you are unsuccessful in finding what you need elsewhere.

8. Image*After

Image*After is another website with good abstract photos and mediocre conventional photos. The really artistic images you'll find on the site include subjects like brick walls and electronic parts, to arty blurs and other interesting macro images of nature. This is a great site to go to for photos if you are looking for a background image.