Where to find royalty free images and photos on the Web? What do royalty free and “creative commons” mean? If you have your own website, write a blog, or just like getting creative with your own digital projects, you’ll want to know these terms and where to find resources you can legally use.
Not everyone is skilled in digital photography or illustration and can create their own content. Here are alternatives, with some tips to avoid using any copyright protected material.
Microsoft Clip Art Gallery
Free gallery with thousands of images including clip art illustrations, photos, animations and sound. Partnering with Fotolia.com, they have even recently introduced a free stock video library. You won’t find the absolute latest and greatest in design aesthetic, but it’s free and I’ve found some nice icons here.
Photographers around the world have made this site the go-to resource for sharing photography. There’s a lot of talent out there! I go straight to Flickr’s advanced search page and at the very bottom, check the box “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”. This will filter your search results for royalty-free content only.
So what’s creative commons? If you find a photo you like, check the licensing information. If it says “All Rights Reserved” then this is not a resource you can use without contacting the photographer and purchasing a license. If it says “Some rights reserved”, the photographer has chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license. This means that you are free to download and use the image, but you must attribute the work with a photo credit. Click here for more on Creative Commons.
More Free Sources
In addition to Flickr, here are some other good sources for free photos and images.
Royalty Free Does Not Mean Free
Royalty free means that the creator of the image or photo is not collecting payment for its use. However, most stock photography sites still apply their own charges for access to their galleries. Usually they charge per download or offer subscriptions. Examples: