Today, I want to talk about graphics. If you are a writer, if you have a website or social media account or you create novels, there is a very good chance that you will need graphics at some point. Unless you have the money to fork out for every image you intend to use, you are going to need to create your own.
Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m no graphic designer, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
So, if you are creating your own graphics and you’re on a tight budget (most sole proprietary business owners are) then you might be interested in using free stock photos. Well, you are in luck because I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite free photo sites, but before I get to the list I want to give you a few words of caution.
Most sites that deal in free photos are loaded with…let’s just say less-than-par photos. They also don’t have the best search options. What I mean is that if you’re trying to find an image of a jug of milk (I have no idea why I chose this as my example) and you type “milk” or “milk jug” into the search bar, you might get actual jugs of milk or you might get pictures of cows and pastures. It will take a bit of time to sort through all the nonsense to find a usable image that you like. So be patient.
Also, this might not come as a surprise, but a lot of writers are in the same boat as you. Because there are only so many GOOD free photos available, there’s a high chance that you might see the same image floating around on someone else’s social media account or website. Since you want your images to stand out, you could consider using a combination of free and paid images. I’ve included a list of a couple cheap stock photo sites that I use at the bottom of this post to help you out.
The last bit of caution I want to add, and this is probably the most important, read the license agreement on each free image before you download and use it. Some of the agreements are written in a way that you feel like you need a law degree to understand them, but all you really need to look for are these simple words “free for commercial use” or something very similar.
If the agreement doesn’t state whether you can use it commercially or not, err on the side of caution and don’t use it on your site. You can take the time to write the management of the site, or if the photographer offers their information you can contact them directly, and ask for permission. Once you get written permission, I’d save it in a file on your computer just on the odd chance that there’s a dispute later. You can also save an image of the agreements for any photos you download just in case. I’m not trying to scare you or anything. I’ve used plenty of free images and haven’t had any problems, but I’m all about CYA.
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Okay, here is my list of 20 free stock photo sites for writers.
This is probably one of the best free stock photo sites. It boasts as having over a million high-quality photos free for commercial use.
Free photos for commercial use. There aren’t as many on this site as some of the others but there are quite a few good ones.
I’ve found some beautiful free photos on this site.
Over a million free food photos. (say that five times fast.)
These are free stock photos for small businesses. Most of the images include tech. (i.e. computers, phones, etc.)
Gorgeous free stock photos with varying license agreements.
The Open Photo Project is a photo sharing platform. The licensing agreements vary by photo so be sure to take the time to read them.
Free high-resolution photos that are supposed to be free for both personal and commercial use.
You can browse free images based on the license you need. They have agreements where you have to give attribution to the photographer or no attribution needed licenses, as well as non-commercial. You can click on the kind of license you need and then browse photos from there.
Free photos for both personal and commercial use. Plus, they add 7 new photos each week.
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Freerange stock photos and illustrations are supposed to be licensed for commercial use with no attribution required.
These free photos are also supposed to be for commercial use. Most of them were taken by David Niblack.
You can find some really unique photos on this site that are free for both personal and commercial use.
Stockvault offers thousands of free pictures and images with all different licenses. I might sound like a broken record at this point but remember to read the license agreement before using it.
They have public domain photos (no attribution) and attribution requires licensing agreements for their photos.
1162 free HD images for your web and design projects.
Over 350,000 photos free for commercial use.
As of today, there are 390,667 free stock photos available on this site with varying licensing agreements.
This is a paid site that offers 10 free photos for signing up. You could get your freebies and then say sayonara.
These are by no means all of the sites out there that offer free stock photos but they are some of the most popular ones.
Here are a couple of the cheapest paid stock photo sites I’ve used (that don’t require a subscription):
If you buy your pictures individually on Can Stock Photo, it can get pretty expensive, but you can buy credits and then use those credits to buy your pictures, which makes them quite a bit cheaper. You don’t even have to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of credits to get a decent price per photo.
The minimum amount of credits you can buy is 12 credits for $9. Most medium images (usually around 1000×1600 pixels) costs 3 credits, making it roughly $2.25. The credits are cheaper the more you buy at once. For example, you can buy 35 credits for $25. That would make a medium image $2.14.
I like this site because I don’t have to spend a lot of money at once to buy a few images.
Deposit Photos boasts $1 per image no matter which size. Unfortunately, you have to buy 100 images at once, which will cost you $100. But, if you’re signed up with AppSumo, you can catch a couple of really good deals from Deposit Photo in both the spring and the fall. I caught the fall sale and paid half price ($50 for 100 photos).
Since you can download them in any size you want, I always download them in extra large. Then I can cut up one image and use it multiple times to achieve similar but different graphics for social media and my site.
Do you have a website that you go to for free or cheap images? Care to share with the rest of the class? Leave a comment and tell us about it.