Understand these terms before using any free images
A few things to know before we get started. The following terms will come up often as we discuss free image sources. Read over the terms and conditions of each site you try so you know exactly when and what type of attribution is required.
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. There are various types of Creative Commons licenses that range from allowing any type of use with no attribution to allowing only certain uses and no changes.
What is public domain?
Works in the public domain are those whose copyrights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable. Finding something on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain.
What is royalty free?
Royalty-free images aren’t necessarily free. In most cases, you’ll have to pay a one-time fee to obtain the rights to use the image. Then you can use it as many times as you like. The “free” in “royalty-free” only means that you do not have to pay royalties to the owner of the image every time you use it.
Some websites to find free images for your designs:
Canva is an online graphic design tool that also offers free stock photos. One advantage of using Canva is that you can quickly turn an image into a custom graphic to use on social media or your blog.
Unsplash has it’s own license which you can check out on their website. It essentially lets you use the images for free, in any way you like, except for using them to create a competing website. (We are huge fans of Unsplash here at Teeshirt Love!)
Pexels also has their own license which you can view on their website if you like. It states what you can and cannot do with the images. You can use and modify the images for free for both commercial and personal use without attribution.
Images on Pixabay are licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0), which means you can use the images without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist (though it’s always appreciated). Pixabay provides tyheir own gentle reminder on their website to check that the content depicted in the images doesn’t infringe any rights.
Free Images provides over 300,000 free stock images under its own license. The license allows a very broad range of uses, though it does list several restricted use cases (which are quite common for most free images sites).
Kaboompics uses its own license, which is similar to Creative Commons Zero except that you cannot redistribute its photos. There are two things that I love about Kaboompics: one, it allows me to search by color, and two, it provides a complementary palette of colors in the photo.
Stocksnap uses the Creative Commons CC0 license so its photos are free to download, edit, and use for both commercial and non-commercial projects.