These days it is imperative to accompany your social media post with an image. It is well known that if you post on your social media account and don’t include a photograph, you are less likely to see a higher level of user engagement. If you aren’t willing to pay for access to databases that contain photographs it can be difficult to determine which images are free of copyright.
Before the ten best free stock photo sites are revealed, it is important to fully understand the three main copyright categories so you are able to correctly use and credit (if required) images.
- Public Domain – Photographs that are in the public domain usually contain expired copyright works. Therefore, these are now free for commercial or personal use. However, you might have to get permission to use a photo when the image contains a famous person.
- Royalty Free – This refers to the right that allows individuals or businesses to use copyrighted material (or intellectual property).
- Creative Commons (CC) – This enables the unrestricted distribution of work that would be otherwise copyrighted. A Creative Commons license is normally used when a producer wants to give others the right to use, share, and further build on a work they created. Photographers can choose how they would like their images to be used by identifying a specific Creative Commons license. For example, when a CC0 license is used, the owner has surrendered all rights to their work, whereas CC 2.0 needs the user to give credit to the creator.
Listed below are the top ten free stock photo sites that you could use to find your images to support the content you produce on social media. After the short explanation of how each site operates; a photograph is taken from each site to act as an example.
Pixabay offers almost half a million free images for either commercial or personal use. This site is particularly great for social media photographs because it also includes vector graphics and illustrations (and also videos). All photographs on this site are royalty free and protected under Creative Commons CC0. Therefore these images are able to be adjusted and used for commercial purposes.
Created in 1996, this site offers free images when in use for creative projects. The site, however, does ask that you credit the photographers. This is a good site to find pictures to accompany your social media posts because most pictures are simple and they act as great backgrounds for your text (which can include your store hours or inspirational quotes).
3. Free Images
This site has a great array of over 350,000 stock images. This site is very useful because all the photos are well categorised and searchable. If you are looking to download any photo, the sign up process is a bit time consuming. Although, the large selection of photographs ensures it’s worth it.
If you are looking to follow the recent ‘Throwback Thursday’ trend, this site is best! New Old Stock holds beautiful content containing hundreds of vintage photographs. There is a wide variety of locations and circumstances which will be perfect for many social media posting ideas. However, if you are wishing to get a photo pack it will cost you money. Therefore, if you don’t have a budget, it is best to stick to the single photos on offer.
This free stock photo site is one of the most interesting in terms of its quirky style of photographs. As opposed to other sites where numerous photographers can upload there images for others, this site only has one, Ryan McGuire. The images are all high resolution and are placed into various categories including; nature, people, animals etc. New photos are added weekly ensuring that there is always new images for viewers.
Like all other free stock photo sites, this website also offers royalty free photographs. These photographs can be used for personal or commercial purposes in film, print, Internet (i.e. for your social media account) and television. No login is required which is a plus, however there is a limit of the variety of the content and there isn’t much to choose from compared to other similar sites.
Through an email subscription, Unsplash gives its followers 10 new photos after every 10 days. These new photos are also available on the website as well. This site has become very popular as it gives followers the choice of how new photos are delivered to them. To use any of these photos in your social media content, you do not have to ask permission or give credit to either Unsplash or the particular photographer.
If you are looking for outdoor or nature related scenes in particular then Pickupimage is the free stock photo site for you! There is a large assortment of photographs that are able to be modified and copied. These pictures can also be distributed for commercial purposes and there is no signup required! When downloading, you are given a choice of which size photo you would like, this option makes the site very popular.
9. Jay Mantri
Like Gratisography, Jay Mantri is just one photographer sharing his breathtaking images at no cost. The website was made very well and you will be able to find a relevant image to accompany your social media content very easily. All the images on the home page a very large so you are able to clearly view all the photographs.
This websites’ concept is very similar to all other stock photo sites; they provide free images for websites, developers, bloggers, etc. This website is particularly useful for your social media content as most of the images are focuses on a business setting.