As a photographer and a blogger, I understand the need for decent images for websites as well as the ire of photographers seeing their photos stolen by bloggers and internet marketers.
While most of the time, it’s OK to use images under fair use or education purposes, it’s a different game if you’re using the images to profit.
It’s incredibly simple to just email the photographer for permission, and as long as you’re transparent about it, 9/10x they’ll say ‘yes’ for reuse unless it’s a professional a company or if human faces are involved. All you need to do is ask.
Where to Download Royalty Free Stock Photos – Not Google Images Please!
A lot of people tell new website owners to just take images from Google Image Search, claiming that if it’s out on the web, it’s free to use.
Excuse me, that’s like saying, “as long as your website is indexed, the content is free to use by anyone”, tell me if that makes sense to you.
Copyright on photographs differ from country-to-country, but the general broad rule is that photos do not need to be registered for the owner to claim copyright. The photo belongs to the owner as soon as it’s captured.
You cannot just head to Google and pick an image you want to use if you are running an ethical web property.
Photos are relatively cheap, especially for web-size versions. All you need to do is search for Creative Commons licensed images (use the Advanced Search function of Google Images) and contact the photographer/owner for permission or explanation of usage rights.
In any case, I’ve created a list of sites where you can download images legally for free. The free sites are mostly affiliate sites to be honest, they’ll mix in Shutterstock and iStockPhotos results so you might find some of the higher-quality images leading you to a paid site.
Some may require attribution, some don’t.
Free Stock Photography Websites:
- Free Digital Photos – Very good list of free images, attribution required.
- Kozzi - 30 high quality stock photos / month, one I use most often if I’m too lazy to shoot, limit 1 per day for free account.
- Free Range Stock - Another comprehensive site, registration required.
- Woophy - Most awesome geo-based photo site. NON COMMERCIAL USE ONLY. Contact photographer for commercial use.
- Stock.xchng - A bit generic, but good for filler images
- Everyday Stock Photo - A bit too much ‘casual’ snapshots, but fits a lot of ‘how-to’ sites.
- Imagebase - Quite limited, but good site for travel sites
- Open Photo - Scattered collection, but several generic images that can be used in different niches, particularly their portraits and people categories.
- UnProfound - Images sorted by colors, quite innovative, free but most require attribution and permission.
- StockVault - My 2nd favorite site in terms of volume, very comprehensive list but donation-based.
- Free Stock Photos (com) – Limited categories
- Photorack - Comprehensive but annoying Forum-based format.
- Public Domain Photos - Free, but very limited and quality’s so-so
- Kavewall - Mainly for background and textures
- Historical Stock Photos - Mostly public domain and really old photos. Good for blogs, news, and anything that deals with historical references.
Paid Royalty Free Stock Photos
If you want quicker and higher-quality selections, you’ll find, some links to the bigger PAID stock photography sites.
The money you’re making on your Amazon niche site probably can afford paying a couple of stock images. Don’t be cheap and don’t rob photographers of their (already small) income from stock images. At the very least, it’s good karma for you for doing the right thing (insert Russell Peters joke here).
There you go, the list of stock image sites listed above should help you out in finding high resolution stock photos for your websites LEGALLY. Good luck!