Where Can I Get Stock and Free, High Quality Photos?

A good image will grab the eye and hold it, making the person look harder at what they’re looking at. This is an important concept for sales and marketing. You want a potential customer to stop and look at what you’re selling. People do judge a book by its cover and if you’re an author hoping to sell a book, what’s on the front cover matters.

Even for part-time bloggers who blog for just the sake of getting the word out of whatever they want to talk about, images help to deliver the message. Print media such as brochures, a company intranet, school projects, they are all enhanced with pictures and help tell a story or describe a concept.

If you’re a person looking for images for a particular project, there are two things you are probably considering. First, there is the cost. Second, are there any legal concerns.


One source of images is from the online stock industry. With the internet you can search the database of various agencies, find the image you need, and purchase the appropriate license. One of the advantages of an online agency is they will review the images for quality and verify legal usage. Pictures with people will have model releases. You’re guaranteed a level of safety for the images you purchase.

Getty Images is a well-known agency and is used by news outlets when they need a stock image to accompany an article, however Dreamstime has one of the largest databases in the world with over 100 million pictures covering almost any subject you can think of, including editorial images of current events. If you’re a photography or graphic artist, you most likely are using Adobe Photoshop or other applications within their suite of products. Adobe also provides stock images for purchase.

When purchasing images from an online agency, verify that you will be paying for the proper licensing. Each agency will be different for their terms of usage. There are different levels of pricing that are involved. If you’re thinking the cost may be prohibitive for your budget, you must consider you’re getting a ready-made image created by a professional. Online stock is simple end economical when you consider what it would take to hire a photographer.


Yes, there are free images to be had out there, thanks to the internet. However, there is “free” and there is free. Many web sites offer free images, including the online stock agencies mentioned above. The agencies provide free images to entice you to visit their web sites and hope you may purchase an image from their database if you can’t the free image you’re looking for.

“Free” images may have various terms and restrictions. They may be for personal use only or you may have to credit the artist. The terms and conditions may not allow you to use the image depending on what your intent is.

If you’re looking for truly free images, then you may want to look for “Creative Commons” images, or CC0. CC0 images are pictures where the copyrights have expired, or the artist put the image into the public domain. Images in the public domain have no restrictions. You can use the image for just about any purpose you want.

A well-known web site that offers public domain images is www.pixabay.com. They have a large database with free-use images and minimal noise. “Noise” being advertising and other annoying web site hooks and redirects. However, you do get what you pay for. A percentage of the images may be limited in size. They may be lacking in quality. But there are also many high-quality images that are truly free for you to use.

You even have some stock agencies and artists who are collecting public domain images and turning around and selling them to buyers who are not aware the images they’re purchasing are public domain. There’s nothing stopping them from doing this.

There are CC0 images that contain people, and even though there may have been a proper model release, that doesn’t guarantee the paperwork was done for an image you may want to use. There is a degree of risk therefore if you were to use CC0 images with people. If you want to be safe, then purchase an image from an agency where they will verify the paperwork for you.

The United States Library of Congress and NASA are other sources of public domain images though they may be limited in scope as to what they provide.

So if you’re going to use free images, be aware of the things that could wrong if you were to use them. Verify the terms and restrictions. You will be safer in purchasing images from an online stock agency because you can assume the images have been reviewed and will have the proper release forms behind them. Even then, make sure you’re purchasing the proper license for how you’re going to use the image.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and having the right image in your project can do wonders. Finding images is now easier than ever thanks to the internet, and by doing a little homework you can locate what you need.

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