We all know how important it is to use images on social media posts for Twitter and Facebook and blogs too but have you ever wondered whether the images you use are royalty free? Most commonly, we search for images on Google and use them without ever thinking if they are another artist’s virtual property.

But we usually find ourselves stuck in a dilemma, ‘where can we find high-quality images that can be used free of cost in social media content and blog posts and when you create your website?’ Royalty free images are the safest bet when it comes to using pictures for your social media posts and blogs as they can be used without paying any license fee.

Almost all pictures that have been created over the past thirty years are copyrighted; giving the author the sole right to use the copyrighted image at his or her sole discretion. Another viable option for using public domain photos is to register at Creative Commons. However, users may have to give attributions for each image they use. Another great facility offered by Creative Commons is that it allows the users to create new images from scratch.

The Best Websites for Getting Royalty Free Images

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In this article, we will explore everything related to royalty free images; starting from 1) introduction to Creative Commons, 2) why you should use royalty free images, and getting through 3) the comprehensive list of websites for getting royalty free images.


What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables users to share their creativity and knowledge over the internet legally with the help of special tools. In order to use pictures off Creative Commons, you must first register yourself as a member and select a Creative Commons license. Different types of licenses allow members to use pictures without any attributions, and some are allowed for use with certain changes and proper attributions.

What is public domain?

The Public Domain contains pictures whose copyrights have expired, inapplicable or forfeited. Simply finding pictures on search engines like Google does not mean that they are not protected by copyrights.

How to attribute pictures correctly

You now know that Creative Commons can be used to get images legally for your social media and blog posts, but you can only do so by making proper attributions. Here is a guide on how to attribute pictures the right way when taking pictures off Creative Commons.

It is important to note that there is no proper method that you can follow when it comes to making an attribution but here is one of the many ways you can do it.

  • The name or pseudonym of the author should be mentioned every time you use a picture. You must also provide the link to the user’s profile when making an attribution.
  • The title of the work should be added if there is any. If not, you can skip this part but it is necessary that you provide a link to the actual place where the author’s work has been hosted.
  • A long or short name of the Creative Commons license type should be mentioned along with a proper link to the full license.
  • All copyright notices attached to the author’s work should be retained and kept intact when you credit the work to the author or reproduce it for use in your blogs or social media posts. You must also make sure to credit any third parties if the author has requested to do so.


People often get confused when referring to the term ‘royalty free’ and ‘stock’. But there is a major difference between the two. There are times when you have to hire a photographer to take a custom shot for use on the internet for instance, a picture of your new product, brand ambassador, model, your employees, or a new facility.

But getting a custom shot for every blog or social media post is not possible and often not required at all. For instance, you may just feel the need to add an image to your blog post just to set the mood or make it look interesting. This is where generic images or lifestyle shots come into play – often referred to as ‘stock’ images.

There is a particular price attached to stock photos in the same way custom photos are priced. The fee for stock photography is dependent of the amount of usage – where and when the photo will be used. For instance, you may want to use a stock photo for your new catalog during the holiday season.

However, you cannot use the same photo as your cover photo for the website because stock photos are usage specific. You can only use them for the intended purpose. In order to use the same photo somewhere else, you may have to pay a higher price and negotiate the terms accordingly.

Royalty free photography, on the other hand, is different from stock photography in a way that it can be used umpteen times once you pay a flat fee. The fee for every image depends on the resolution of the image that is; a low-res photo may cost you less than a high-res photo. However, there are certain pros and cons of using royalty free images that are discussed below.

  • Exclusivity is a major downside to royalty free images. It may sound appealing because you can then use it anywhere but imagine the possibility of your website cover photo being the same as your competitors. Stock photos, on the other hand, can be tracked down to where they have been used and by whom. For instance, once a photo has been used by one marketing firm to advertise a product; it cannot be used by any other marketing firm.
  • There is a huge difference in the quality and price of stock photos and royalty free images too. Stock photos are more expensive than royalty free images and can be sold only a limited number of times to a limited number of buyers. Royalty free images can be used an unlimited number of times without purchasing them.
  • In terms of quality, stock images have a better resolution as compared to pictures available on royalty free websites like iStock, Shutterstock, etc.

Using Google Images to search for pictures seems like the easy way out but it is never an option for bloggers, web developers, etc. because the images that surface on the search engine might or might not be protected by a copyright.

The Importance of Using Royalty Free Images for Your Blogs and Websites without Any Copyright Issues

The world of visual content has never been more vulnerable than it is today because one can easily download the work of another artist and use it illegally. In order to protect the rights of the artist, it is always important to attribute the image properly using the artist’s name, the original place where the work has been used and the title of the work.

Using royalty free images for your blogs and websites without any copyright issues is only possible when you make proper attributions. If you use a photo directly from the website of another artist, he or she has the right to ask you to pull down the image from your blog or website.


Here we have compiled some of the best websites from where you can get royalty free images for use on different blog posts, social media posts and even websites.

Image Search Tools

Google Advanced Image Search

Even though you cannot use pictures from Google Images straight way without checking if they are copyrighted or not, finding royalty free images via Google Advanced Image search is possible. Finding royalty free images using the Google Advanced Image search option is fairly easy. All you have to do is click on the advanced search option after typing in the keywords for the images you want to search.

Once you find the ‘Usage Rights’ section, simply select the option that says ‘free to use or share, even commercially’. Every image that you now search for will be royalty free and can be used easily for commercial use without worrying over the copyrights issue. But just to confirm that the image you are about to use is ‘free’; you can check the usage rights of any image with TinEye reverse image search.

Wikimedia Commons

With a database filled with a staggering amount of usable media files; 25,886,047 to be precise and increasing every second, Wikimedia Commons is one of the best places for finding the free images. Anyone can contribute images to Wikimedia Commons, and they are then organized into different categories, but the classifications may not be too clear.

Can We Image’ can be used to search pictures available on Wikimedia Commons easily. Your search results will directly be linked to the usage rights page of the resource. Even though the making attributions is not exactly necessary, making attributions for images found via ‘Can We Image’ is still the right way to go about.


  • Compfight: Compfight is a search engine that enables users to find images available on Flickr. It uses the Flickr API to locate images depending on the different licensing needs of the users.
  • Foter: Another great tool for unearthing free images and identifying their licenses is Foter. It also uses the photo database of Flickr to help users search for different photographs.
  • Image Finder: If you are looking for a way to find Creative Commons images available on Flickr with the same categories and filters, you can use Image Finder to get hold of images for commercial and non-commercial use.
  • PhotoPin: PhotoPin is another image search interface that enables users to find free images that they are looking for. The PhotoPin database is home to millions of Creative Commons photos that can be searched for along with their usage rights. The images may or may not require attributions depending on whether they are for commercial or non-commercial use.

Every Stock Photo

A search engine that will enable you search for free images, Every Stock Photo uses license-specific pictures from a variety of resources. You must register as a member to use this image search engine. Every Stock Photo can also be used to view a photo’s license as well as comment, tag, rate and collect photos. The best part about using Every Stock Photo is that it does not require any attributions.

Stock Photos.io

Stock Photos.io is another legal tool licensed by Creative Commons for searching free stock photos. With a familiar look like Pinterest, Stock Photos.io has a database of 25,000 images that can be used for commercial use only if proper attributions are made.

Image Databases

Pixabay: Pixabay is your one window solution for finding images that are free from all copyrights and free published under the license of Creative Commons. You do not have to register at Pixabay as a member to use images and the best part yet, you are allowed to modify, distribute and copy images as you like. You don’t have to worry about making attributions either.

MorgueFile: Another image database that enables users to look for freely contributed images by various artists is MorgueFile. Attributions are necessary for pictures that have been requested for by the artists, and you must become a member to use MorgueFile.

RGB Stock: RGB Stock is a free image stock database created by graphic artists and photographers. The one click registration is quite convenient, and users are not required to make any attributions for the images they use.

IM Free: IM Free offers its members an exclusive collection of images via free resources that can be used commercially. You can simply type in a keyword to find images on IM Free, and no attributions are required for the images used.

Stock Vault: Stock Vault is one of the best stock photo sharing websites where graphic artists, students, and designers voluntarily contribute their work for commercial use. You have to give credits to the author of the photos, and you can become a member on Stock Vault for free.

Free Images: With more than 350,000 stock images in its repertoire, Free Images is a large searchable and categorized gallery that you can use to download free images after a lengthy sign up procedure. However, the pictures are free for use without any attributions.

Dreamstime: Dreamstime is a website with a section for free images that is updated on a regular basis. You must become a member to get an access to the free images. The membership for Dreamstime is free, but proper attributions must be made when you use the photo.

Pikwizard: Pikwizard is a great free stock photo and video site, which boasts a stunning library of over 1 million stock images and videos. The main selling point of Pikwizard is you can take each image and edit on the graphic design tool, Design Wizard. And the images of people are also great! There’s no attribution required – meaning you can use each image and video as you please.

Image Collection

Gratisography: Gratisography is a high-resolution image collection that contains sharp, bright pictures for personal as well as commercial use. The collection is updated on a weekly basis, and you can simply download the images without any lengthy sign up procedures or any attribution.

Unsplashed: With Unsplashed, you get 10 free images for 10 days that you can use for commercial or non-commercial purposes. The images available on Unsplashed are of high quality, and no attributions are required. However, users are required to register as members after the 10-day trial period expires.

Superfamous: Superfamous showcases the work of Folkert Gorter, a Dutch interaction designer whose photography is available for use by third party internet users under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons 3.0 license. This means that anyone can use Superfamous to get high-quality free images for commercial and personal use as long as the picture is credited to the author properly.

Picjumbo: You can use Picjumbo to find a variety of free images from different categories for personal and commercial use free of cost but with proper attributions. You don’t even have to register as a member to access the image database. The only downside to Picjumbo is that you cannot search for pictures by typing in relevant keywords, but that is where the well-organized categories come in handy.

New Old Stock Photo: New Old Stock Photo offers you an exclusive collection of vintage images that are free from any known copyright restrictions. This website needs no attributions for the pictures that you use for either personal or commercial uses.

Little Visuals: Little Visuals allows users to get 7 high-resolution images that can be used for any purpose. The pictures are delivered weekly via email, and you can search for pictures of virtually anything – from breathtakingly beautiful landscapes to close-ups of industrial parts. However, Little Visuals does require users to credit images to their respective authors where necessary.

Getrefe: Getrefe offers high quality architectural or landscape photos to users for commercial and personal use with proper attributions. Also, there is no need to sign up for a membership to use Getrefe.

Picography: Picography by Hidden Depth is your one stop destination for finding a variety of different images that are royalty free. Similar to Unsplashed, you can use pictures off Picography without any attributions.

Stock Snap.io: Stock Snap.io is one of the best sources for finding free stock photos online for commercial and personal use. That best part about using this source is that no attributions are required, and the quality of the images is just amazing.

Splitshire: From food to travel, fashion, blurred backgrounds and landscapes, Splitshire has got it all. You can use these high-resolution stock free images for free without any attributions.

Life of Pix: This is another great online source for finding high-resolution stock free photos falling under different categories such as nature, sea, food, people, etc. New pictures are added every week, so there’s something for everyone out there. You can use pictures directly off Life of Pix without any attributions.

Death to Stock Photos: Using Death to Stock Photos allows users to get a monthly collection of high-resolution lifestyle images sent to them directly via email. Also, you don’t have to credit the images to their respective authors if you use their images commercially.

Lock and Stock Photos: Lock and Stock Photos offers you a wide variety of images classified into different categories for commercial and personal use. However, Lock and Stock Photos are the property of AJ Monpetit, and you may have to make proper attributions in order to use them.

Snapwire Snaps: You get to receive 7 hand-picked images from Snapwire Snaps directly in your inbox every week. The images are of high quality and can be used for commercial and personal purposes. The great advantage of using Snapwire Snaps is that no attributions are required.

Jay Mantri: Jay Mantri also offers an enormous collection of images free of cost. Seven new pictures are sent to users on every Thursday. However, since the work belongs to Jay Mantri, attributions are a must.

These are some of the best websites that you can use to get hold of stock free images and royalty free photos free of cost. However, some websites do offer premium memberships for a fraction of the cost. Say no to copyright infringements and use stock free images with attributions where necessary to protect the rights of the authors.

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