5 Creative Commons License Free Image Sources

“Creative Commons Free Images” (License Free Image Sources) –an intimidating phrase that you have to get past to be able to use others’ images on your website(s). Once you understand what the nitty gritty of creative commons images actually means, you have opened for yourself a door to millions of images.

Creative Commons is a license that enables copyrighted works to be distributed for free. The challenge is that you cannot look at photos and tell if they are free images for commercial use. Let’s demystify the common terms used to decipher Creative Commons. Let us also understand the difference between free royalty free images, free copyright free images. This is then followed by a few handy licence free image sources.

How to look for License Free Image Sources

Commercial use: Many photographers do not mind their images being used by others, but they don’t want them to be used for commercial purposes. So, if you are not making any money off it, you are in the clear.

Attribution: Some photographers allow free use of their images, but they want you to credit the source of the image. Such sources usually mention how they want to be attributed – either by a text link or by a link from the image to the source or a button/banner that links tot he source.

Non-derivative use: While some photographers don’t mind changes made to their images, others specify that their image can be used only in its original form and does not allow derivative work. So, you are specifically prohibited from using it as an inspiration.

Royalty Free: Be aware that an image that is said to allow royalty free use may involve a one-time payment. Also, the original creator retains copyright in most of such cases.

Copyright Free: Know whether or not the creator is allowing the use of the image copyright free. This is something you have to be careful of especially if you are making a changing the image in anyway before using it. You might not have the copyright to the changed image.

Let us now look at some sources for license free image sources. Before you use sources though, it is handy to look at a few simple parameters. These were the guidelines used to filter through the scores of sources of images.

Site navigation: There are sites that have loads of free images but are non-intuitive and either offer too little for your searches or offer it too late. Such sites have not been included in this list. However, Wikimedia commons is a great source once you get past the difficulty in parsing through the searches. It allows for deep filtering and has over 22 million images! Other than that though, if the search functionality or the categorisation is not up to the mark, it ends up using up too much valuable time.

Image quality: If most of the free images at the source aren’t of good quality they have been left out. For example, Flickr has a lot of user generated content but not all of it is above home photography. Whether or not it is worth scanning through thousands of photos to find one good one is questionable.

Filtering the copyright/royalty/attribution/commercial use parameters: There are loads and loads license free image sources, but not all of them make it easy to sift through the various parameters. Since this is of utmost importance, a source has to tell you these details upfront and/or allow for easy filtering.

Given these criteria, here are the five license free image sources that made it to the list.

There are two kinds of resources for photos. Ones that apply to a niche, like say business photos or garden photos. Chances are that you’d get better-looking images, be it icons or photos if you look specifically for images in the said niche.

PhotoPin Free Photos for Bloggers via Creative Commons

PhotoPin has millions of images and makes it real easy to grab a photo for your blog/site. It offers a wide variety of sizes and the embed code too. It has a search functionality that runs swiftly and effectively. It also allows you to select a filter for commercial/non-commercial use of images. A click takes you to the attribution defined.

Beautiful Free Images Unsplash

Unsplash gives you a wide variety of high-resolution images. The site is very low on text and gets to the point right away. For example, upfront it tells you, you can “do whatever you want” with the images you download. A clutter free environment directly takes you to an easy to use search filter with broad categories.

Everystock is a search engine that scours through over 27 million images. The user-generated rating makes it easy to see the popularity of images. The tags too are user-generated making it a wide filtering system. You can, of course, also filter using the specific license combination you want. Moreover, all these parameters including resolution and source of the image are mentioned right next to the image, so all the information is available at one glance.

Creative Commons Search also is a search engine that does pretty much the same thing as every stock photo. It is a matter of personal preference if you’d pick one over the other.

Creativity103.com is an image source with a difference. It categorizes according to the design elements that a website needs – backgrounds, textures and so on. They clearly mention that you can use the images and edit them as you like. However, they’d like credit/link back to the site in one of the formats mentioned, especially if you are using them for commercial purposes,

Sure, there are many more license free image sources out there, but it is very likely that you will find what you need from the options mentioned above. There is a certain charm in using pictures that you have taken or have hired a professional to do so, but sometimes either you can’t get the quality required yourself and it is an overkill to hire a professional. For the in-between times, you have millions of images at your disposal.

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5 Comments
  • Sany Din /June 9, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Nice tips Meeta..some of the portals for free images are pretty good..thanks for sharing

  • baltensperger /June 21, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Hi, thanks for sharing this sources. Another one i can find cool and free images is https://plixs.com

  • MarshallKohl /June 23, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Thanks for the useful tips! If you don’t mind, I’d like to share one more great stock photo source templatemonster.com – ( the biggest collection of responsive themes, arranged properly in different categories – Art, Culture, Animals, Sports, Cars, Medicine, Education, Electronics, etc)

  • Bryan Shore /July 25, 2016 at 10:01 am

    This is a great list, and a great resource. Most people don’t talk about what the different terms mean, royalty free, copyright free, and so on. It is always useful to have this info available. here is another resource that talks about all the different types of licensing within the royalty free section: http://www.coreldraw.com/us/pages/royalty-free-images/. It has a lot of good info in there for anyone looking to use royalty free images.
    Thanks again for the awesome help.

  • Ivan /November 22, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Nice. Great stuff!

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