The Three Best Sites for Free Stock Photos

Search engines love images, so you should add at least one image to every article you write. It's not wise to use your own images, because some sites lay claim to any text or images you post. Many Internet users think that any image found online is free to use, but that is not true. Luckily, there are several reputable places to find free images online.

Morguefile

Morguefile is my favorite free image site, but in the past year, it has gone downhill as a source for free images. If you need a special paid image, they also collaborate with several stock photo sites where you can buy images, but I've never had to do that. The site is easy to use and no membership is required, but you can register for access to features such as being able to save your favorite photos. Simply type your search term into the box and you are automatically taken to the free photos for that term. You may have to search a few times, or pore over a few pages of photos to find the perfect one, but they are totally free. When you find the image you want, click on the download link and, depending on your settings, you will be given the option to save or download to your default photo editing program. I always download to my photo editing program, because these full-sized digital images need to be resized before use.

Stock.XCHNG

This is another site that offers free or paid photos. The difference in this site is that you have to give the owner credit for their photo. There is an "Availability" box under the free image that tells you what credit is required. Standard restrictions only requires you to post a credit with the name and site. Some photographers like to be notified when their photos are used, and may require a link back to their profile. Always do what is required so you don't get an image takedown notice. I usually post the credit at the end of my articles, such as on  this article, where I go the photo from that site. A complicated credit isn't required, just the name of the photographer and the site name. The URL for the site is sxc.hu, so that is what most writers know it by.

Wikimedia Commons

This is a creative commons site owned by Wikipedia has photos you can use for free with certain restrictions. It contains pictures with creative commons licensing as well as public domain photos from private photographers and government agencies. Public domain photos do not require a credit, but creative commons photos require a credit stating the creative commons license under which they are offered along with the photographer's name and sometimes a link back to their work. This can be a little more complicated if you don't understand creative commons licensing abbreviations, but they have made it simple by putting the link into the download box for you to copy and paste. The link is long and ugly, so using a hyperlink with the basic information is best. I will be posting a tutorial on how to make hyperlinked credit lines for Wikimedia. This site is very good for nature, celebrity and public figure photos, because they use the photos from the Wikipedia pages. Most topics you find on Wikipedia have an associated photo on Wikimedia Commons.

While these three sites are the most popular free photo sites online, there are other places to find free stock photos. A simple search will give you access to literally hundreds of thousands of free photos. Be sure to read the Terms of Use carefully for each site and obey the rules. Using someone's photo without their permission is illegal, just like using someone's words.

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