Human brains process images 60,000 times faster than text which is why good photos are crucial for grabbing attention and getting your messages across. It forms the major part of any advertising, blog posts, youtube thumbnail, or any social media posts. You can use royalty-free images for a variety of things, including in your marketing content, to jazz up your website or social media posts, or even to create some branded merchandise.
What are Royalty-Free Images?
Royalty-free images aren’t always free. In most cases, you’ll have to pay a one-time fee to obtain the rights to use that image. 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.
Not all royalty free images have the same usage rights. Some will be available for private use only, while others will be available for commercial use. Here’s a quick rundown of terms to look out for:
Rights Managed (RM) – the image is licensed for exclusive use by one client for a specific period of time
Rights Ready (RR) – like ‘rights managed’ but the license can be extended further
Creative Commons (CC) – the image can be distributed freely
Royalty Free (RF) – as mentioned above, royalty free images can be used freely, but usage conditions vary
Extended License – usually offers more uses than royalty free for a higher cost
There are hundreds of royalty free image sites out there, and not all of them are created equally. To save you some precious time, we’ve hand-picked the 20 best sites for royalty free images under creative commons.
List of Best Royalty Free Images(under CC)
iStockphoto.com (by Getty Images) and Shutterstock.com are the most well-known paid stock photo sites. You can get images of virtually anything on these websites but at a hefty price. The quality and variations of images which you get here are no doubt one of the best but money does matter. Luckily there are alternatives which we have compiled for you in the below article.
I have searched the same keyword in all the websites for easy comparison.
Unsplash is one of the best websites to download royalty-free images, videos & vectors. Unsplash was a side-project started by Crew, an online marketing agency dedicated to making your design dreams a reality. Unsplash has its own license, which essentially lets you use the images for completely free, in any way you like, except for using them to create a competing website.
This website also features some of the best web projects made from Unsplash for your inspiration. If you subscribe to their mailing list, 10 new photos will be delivered to your inbox every 10 days. You can automatically sync these photos to your Dropbox with Splashbox. Unsplash also allows people to submit their photos to their website.
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This free stock photo website was started by a web designer; Viktor Hanacek in 2013 when he was in dire need of high-quality photos for web-based projects. You can find a variety of stock images absolutely free from their millions of collections. You can search for royality free images by heading over to the search bar or categories on the menu.
To download an image you don’t even have to log in to their website. You can give credit to the author or donate them but that is not necessary requirement. Picjumbo also offers premium membership which allows you to get super-exclusive access to the latest and never published photos collections.
Pixabay is another most popular website that enables you to get royalty free images to download. Apart from images, it lets you download illustrations, vectors, videos & music which is best suited for digital creators. All of the stock photos on Pixabay are free for commercial usage with no attribution required.
This website doesn’t disappoint you in terms of quality. You can download them in different resolutions as per your requirement. Pixabay also has sponsored images from Shutterstock (another website with paid images) to provide a choice of professional photos.
Pexels is considered to be one of the most suited websites for bloggers, designers, or digital marketers. They have a huge collection of images and videos which you can use it freely without any attribution.
- All photos and videos on Pexels are free to use.
- Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is not necessary but always appreciated.
- You can modify the photos and videos from Pexels. Be creative and edit them as you like.
They also have a trending section, leaderboard where they showcase the best images from top creators. You can download photos of different quality depending on your requirements. With many more photos added every day, Pexels are likely to help you create beautiful products and designs.
Negativespace offers free stock high-resolution images from huge collection under different categories. All images are free for personal or commercial use which comes under CC0 licensed images.
One of the excellent features of NegativeSpace is allowing users to easily filter through the gallery of photos, which are sortable into categories, tags, and colors. They have categorized images into a variety of lists and one of them is the virtual background which very popular among video-conferencing applications.
More than just a simple stock photo collection, Reshot is a community with a mission. They have a great collection of high-resolution images. Reshot allows copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Reshot for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Reshot. The only restriction is that you can’t use photos from Reshot to replicate a similar or competing service.
SplitShire is yet another great free-stock photo site which provides good royalty free images. Images are available to download under creative commons with a strict license. You can use it freely as long as you are not using to create a competing website, reselling images, and using it for inappropriate content.
They let you search photos based on different categories and they also a special section for new stock photos for showcasing the latest uploads. Apart from images, you can find stock video footage for free commercial use.
Life of Pix is your very own photo-sharing website for getting royalty free images under CC. All images are categorized along with a special section to search for images by sorting photographers. Apart from a huge collection of images they also offer free video footage which leads to another website dedicated to videos only.
It showcases high-quality images to be used freely for personal or commercial use. LifeofPix has partnered with adobe stock to provide photographies you need which lifeofpix doesn’t have.
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Burst offers free stock royalty free images on various categories. This website also very much popular among bloggers and business enthusiasts. The collection is huge which can be used freely for personal and commercial use. But you must read the license agreement before using any image because not all photos are protected by Creative Commons.
Stocksnap is also a very much popular website among photographers. The website offers images form lots of categories which is licensed under creative commons Zero (CC0) license. So you can download and use all stock photos freely anywhere and even for commercial use.
Surf its library either through categories or by what’s trending, most downloaded, most views, and most favorite.
Almost all the websites mentioned above are very popular and provide completely free stock photos. All royalty-free images provided by these websites come under commons Zero (CC0) license. If you are using any other website which is providing the same or better content then please do mention in the comment section below.