12 of the Best Sites to Search for Creative Commons Images

Stock Image Sites Featured

When you need some royalty-free images, it can be hard to find a website that lets you use their images for free. Fortunately, there are some websites that let you use their images without paying, either with credit or without.

Let’s explore the best websites for finding creative commons images.

1. Pexels

If you’re looking for a real-life photo, give Pexels a try. Pexels is a huge database of photos and videos that you can freely use in your projects.

Stock Image Sites Pexels

Because Pexels is largely pure photography, you won’t find many images for niche topics. For example, there are only a few results for “hacker,” because it’s not something a photographer would try to take a picture of. However, if you want an image of a seagull, you’ll be spoilt for choices in the range of photographs available.

Pexels also has a special color filter when you search. When you pick a color or enter its HEX value into the search window, it will go through its library and pick out images where that color is dominant. For example, picking a light blue tends to give you images set against a bright sunny sky, while oranges give you photos taken during sunset.

2. Pixabay

If you don’t have much luck with Pexels, or you’re looking for something that can’t really be photographed, try Pixabay. It, too, has photos in its library, but it also allows people to upload vector graphics and edited images. This means you can find more abstract and niche topics on Pixabay.

Stock Image Sites Pixabay

When you search for a topic, you can choose between vector graphics and photography. While photographs give a more realistic feel to your articles, vector graphics are a little more cartoony and casual. As such, you can tweak your search parameters depending on if you want to go for a professional or laid-back look for your project.

3. Flickr

If you can’t find what you want from the above two options, you can try Flickr instead. Flickr has a vast selection of user-submitted images, but there’s a slight catch. Unlike Pexels and Pixabay, not every image on Flickr is free for you to grab and use. As such, you need to practice due diligence to ensure you don’t breach any copyright laws.

Stock Image Sites Flickr

To find creative commons-friendly images, first search for what you want to find. Then, near the top of the page on the left, click on “Any license” and select the license that you want.

Stock Image Sites Select

Once you find an image you like, scroll below it and look at the license details. Click on it to see what you can do with the image and if you need to credit the uploader or not.

Stock Image Sites License

While Flickr searches require a few extra steps than Pixabay or Pexels, the sheer volume of media available to you makes it worth the effort. As long as you pick the images with the right licenses and give credit where credit is due, you can put Flickr to good use.

4. CC Search

CC Search is, by itself, not a collector of stock images. They do, however, collect websites which host creative commons images and compile them into one search. All you need to do is enter what you want to search for, and CC Search will do the rest.

Stock Image Sites Ccsearch

When you find the image right for you, you can click it and see all the license details. If you agree to the terms, you can then click a button to go to the website that hosts it to download it.

5. Clker

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Clker is a resource for public domain clip art with both vector and bitmap images available for download. It is especially good for icons and symbols. One of Clker’s standout features is that it lets you edit any SVG image in a browser-based drawing program. You can use the visual editor or modify the raw SVG source code, which is an easy way to change the colors of elements, as no “paint bucket” tool exists.

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6. Wikimedia Commons

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Wikimedia Commons has over 15 million free image, sound, and other media files. You can browse by topic-based categories – such as animals, flags, mathematics, and medicine – or by location, type (images, sounds, or videos), author, license, or source. All images are licensed either with one of several Creative Commons licenses, the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), or a public domain license.

7. morgueFile

MorgueFile is a collection of free, high-resolution photos that you can use for personal or commercial purposes. Before users upload images to morgueFile, they must agree to the terms: “You are uploading your own images, not a photo of a photo or someone else’s work.” This prevents the site from ending up like Imgur, a popular image sharing site that hosts mostly unoriginal work.

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All images on morgueFile are released under the morgueFile license, which specifies that users are free to remix the work, use it for commercial purposes, and use it without attribution.

8. Unsplash

Unsplash claims itself as “The internet’s source of freely-usable images” and it has over a million high resolution images that you can download and use for free.

Best Creative Commons Site Unsplash 1

All the images are uploaded by photographers in their community. While it didn’t explicitly stated that the photos come with creative commons license, it does state that:

  • All photos can be downloaded and used for free
  • Commercial and non-commercial purposes

No attribution back to the photographers is required, but it is appreciated if you do so.

9. Picjumbo

Viktor Hanacek started Picjumbo when other stock photo sites wouldn’t publish his images. Since then his images have been downloaded millions of times by users all over the world. Almost every image on Picjumbo has been taken by Viktor himself, which means you won’t run into any copyright surprises.

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Picjumbo also has a premium membership that gives you access to exclusive photos. Regardless of whether you stick with the free version or go premium, all photos are free to use as you see fit.

10. Gratisography

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If you’re in the market for quirky, original photos, look no further. Gratisography features free high-resolution pictures you can use for personal or commercial projects. All pictures were photographed by Ryan McGuire and are free of copyright restrictions. The site has a handy search function, and all images are grouped into categories like urban or whimsical to help you narrow down your search.

11. Burst

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If you’re a blogger, social media influencer or in marketing, you’ll want to check out Burst. Curated by Shopify, Burst is a stock image site geared toward business. In fact, Burst encourages you to use their images for commercial purposes. Therefore, Burst’s high-res photos can be used in ad campaigns or to create websites. All of the photos on Burst are under the Creative Commons Zero license, meaning you can do anything you want with them. Under the CC0 license you don’t even have to credit the photographer, but it’s good karma if you do.

12. New Old Stock

This site is different from the rest because it’s a niche one. New Old Stock specializes in free vintage photos. If you are into old stuff, you can find real gems here. It doesn’t have a search functionality, and the photos are hosted on other sites, but still it’s a nice collection of unique vintage photos from all over the Web.

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Getting Creative With Creative Commons Websites

Without any help, finding images that you can use for your projects can be tricky. Fortunately, there are ways you can quickly browse through creative commons images to find the perfect picture. You can also find creative commons videos and royalty-free music as well.

What’s your favorite stock image website? Let us know below.

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Simon Batt Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a freelance writer who loves fiction, technology, history, and cats.

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