Free stock photos. It’s not your imagination.
If there’s one thing I’ve heard from my author friends it’s the mayhem when it comes to finding the right photo, and more specifically, the right photo for the right cost. As an author, indie or traditional, you’re still required to take command of your own marketing. A publisher can only do so much, and sometimes you feel like an island as an indie when it comes to how to market yourself, and maybe hiring a publicist isn’t feasible.
Authors usually create book teasers to amp up excitement and post them on various social media platforms; these could be quotes, countdowns, or the ever so popular book scene mock-up, which I love. The cost of purchasing photos (so you don’t break copyright laws) adds up quickly, especially if they’re professional cover photos. Personally, I make a ton of book teasers (cuz I’m a Photoshop nerd), and I couldn’t keep up with shelling out $10 to upward of $40 for a basic photo I’d probably only use once. This also applies to any bloggers out there who are constantly in need of stock photos for lifestyle blogs or book blogs.
I’VE FOUND A SOLUTION. OUR DREAMS OF BEAUTIFUL FREE STOCK PHOTOS EXISTS! NO, FOR REALZ …
It’s true! After extensive Internet searching, and then filtering through the good, the bad, and the ugly options, I’ve found many free high resolution stock photo sites. And it’s literally as wonderful as it sounds. Also, the photo options are beautiful! I’m so thankful for these photographers who donate their talent and art.
I’m a firm believer in sharing resources. So, I’m here so share mine!
All of these photo sites offer photos (mostly) under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) which means these photos can be used for:
- Use, copy, edit, or share that photo.
- Use it for personal or commercial purposes.
- *And to do so without purchase, permission, or giving attribution to the creator of the work. While we do always encourage attribution of the photography found on the, it is not required.
*ProTip: Although you’re not required to credit the photo, I personally think it’s courteous to do so if you use the photo for book covers and larger type projects. Just sayin’
Authors, (and bloggers & social media maniacs), here are my top FREE Stock Photo Sites:
By far my most favorite free photo site. They have so much rich content and the best search results. When I need a photo with a particular emotion, color, or location Unsplash’s search option has saved me. Other sites, of course, have the search option, but I just find Unsplash’s the most consistent and relevant content to my search.
Also, here’s a look at their “Free (do whatever you want) High Resolution Photos” rule. It’s glorious:
All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
Another great photo site. I’ve noticed they always have really great “scene-like” photo’s that are perfect for mock ups or blogger-use type photos.
Peak at their usage rules:
At NegativeSpace, it’s our goal to simplify the process of sharing and finding beautiful, high-resolution images. Because of this, all the photographs (and their raw image files) are made available under the Creative Commons CC0 license.
This site is great visually and it seems to have a lot of concept photography and illustrations among their other lifestyle photos. Also, all pictures were photographed by Ryan McGuire. Cool to see one artist offering a full site of work for FREE!
Here’s a peak at their copyright rules. Similar to the Creative Commons Zero:
I offer my pictures under similar terms as Creative Commons Zero with the common sense differences/limitations that you can’t use any of my images for pornographic, criminal, defamatory or degrading purposes; you can’t imply that Gratisography, or any of the models, brands, or anything else in the pictures has endorsed you or your product; you can’t use or redistribute my images on free stock photo websites or apps; you can’t sell and/or redistribute my pictures implying you’re the photographer; and you can’t sell and/or redistribute my pictures as stock photography. You can create awesome work using my pictures without needing to spend a dime and are free to use my pictures for personal or commercial projects. I don’t require any attribution, but it is always appreciated 😉 If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Ryan McGuire.
This site has a lot of great lifestyle type photography that I could see being great for websites or blogs.
Here’s what you can do with these photos:
You can do nearly anything with the images, commercial or not. For example you can use photos for client works, HTML/PSD templates (for sale), in articles, Power Point presentations, print on t-shirts. Also you can distribute my PSD files with photos included in design. Attribution greatly appreciated. Get more info here.
A lot of great nature photography and lifestyle scenes. It’s a free high resolution stock photo site but looks like they just recently partnered with Adobe Stock. No worries though, these photos are still free.
Here’s a look at their policy:
Free high-resolution photos, no copyrights restrictions. Images for personal and commercial use. All images are donated to the public domain.
I love this site because they will send you a themed selection of free high resolution photos directly to your inbox every month. I don’t utilize every photo pack but sometimes there theme’s are so on point for what I need as an author. It’s like these photo stacks can be defined by genre, which is so cool. Their photos are still free but they have a bit more extensive usage policy, but it’s easy to read and understand. Read it here.
For the foodie or foodie blogger. Or just the hungry author? Whichever, this site has lifestyle photography featuring, you guessed it, FOOD. Try not salivating as you search through these photos.
Here’s a look at the sites usage rules:
You can use my original pictures anywhere you want, for both personal and commercial purpose. Same for edits of my pictures (= they are free to edit). There is neither need to mention my name nor FoodiesFeed when using my pictures. However, it is very much appreciated. Practically the only condition I have is that selling and re-selling my pictures is not allowed.
Great photo’s and all I can find on the usage is from the main page “Free images to use however you like”. I guess it’s cool to say he probably operates from the Creative Common’s Zero. Regardless, they are still FREE to use!
This person is a photographer who offers their work FREE through their Tumblr. So if you have a Tumblr and love free high-resolution photos, I suggest following.
Here’s what his site says:
Free Pics. Do anything (CCO). Make Magic.
Free high-res photos but the category search isn’t the easiest to use, but the selections is great although not huge. I do love this site for basic nature photos. Not as professional shots as maybe some of the other sites above, but still great.
Use them in your website, themes, templates, projects, print materials, social posts, and more. New photos each week. CC0 license.
A really darling Tumblr from a photographer who offers her photos for free. I find the selection to be whimsical and high quality. I really love some of the vintage vibes I get too. Don’t forget to follow this Tumblr.
What she says about usage:
Feel free to use these hi-res photos for your landing pages, blog posts & designs.
Great selection, right? Have fun using these free high-res stock photo sites.
Do you need help with design? Finding the right photo is the first step, but knowing what to do with it is sometimes even harder. Check out my design services, Wednesday Designs! I can spice up your stock photos for book teasers, covers, or blogger images! Contact Wednesday Designs.
Also, most sites offer a “donate” button. If you love these sites and the photographers, donating to the cause to keep these sites and their careers going is great way to say thank you! <3
Are there other free stock photo sites you use? Share your resource in the comments. Lets help each other out!
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