Free, royalty-free photos and images for bloggers and webmasters

There are numerous portals on the Internet for license-free images that you can use for your blog or website free of charge. But not every supposedly royalty-free image under a Creative Commons license or labeled Royalty Free is what it appears to be. Sometimes they carry the risk of a warning and sometimes they are not high-resolution images. I would like to show you how to get pictures with a creative common license and how to avoid the risk of a warning, as well as helpful tips for searching for royalty-free pictures for free use on your website.

Royalty-free photos and free images for free use and modification under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) can be found on many sites. Pixabay, Usplash, Wikimedia

Royalty-free photos and public domain images for free use and modification under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) can be found on many sites.

TL; DR: Pages mentioned in the article (+ extra pages) without the trimmings

  • Pixabay (simple design and app for iOS and Android)
  • Unsplash (with uploader profiles and stories about the free images)
  • Google image search (after using the tool; see below)
  • Wikimedia (not always CC0 license, so be careful)
  • Pexels (According to the license notice, everything is under CC0, i.e. free, license-free and freely usable)
  • Startup Stock Photos ("Free photos for startups, bloggers, publishers, websites, designers, developers, creators & everyone else")
  • Picwizard (100.000+ photos and stock videos - many for free, others as premium offers)

Pixabay: royalty-free images and photos for the blog

If I've used high-resolution images and photos for free use from Pixabay for a page or blog, I've had no problems so far. According to the homepage, the stock photos should already be license-free or under Creative Commons CC0. According to the makers of Pixabay, you get completely free images for any use: "All images and videos on Pixabay are published free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You can download it for free, change it and use it for any purpose, including in commercial applications. Attribution is not required."

However, there are also fraudsters who apparently intentionally sprinkle protected images and then wait for use to send out warnings and cost claims (as with Pixelio, see below). A corresponding report Is there ... here.

Otherwise, Pixabay works quite unproblematically. You look for some suitable photos and then the images are available for download in various resolutions. In contrast to some other portals, you can also download photos from Pixabay as a guest (without logging in or registering). And there is a nice coffee donation function with which you can thank the photographers for making their photographs and images available free of charge.

Unsplash: Free images with CCo license

Unsplash also offers stock images and photos under the CC0 license. This means that the images and photos can be used for the blog, the online shop, the company website or another web presence of the user - without specifying the source, author and so on. In addition, photographers, artists and other uploaders have their own profiles in the Unsplash image database, in which they can share their photos and images as well as the stories associated with them. I personally find the pictures of Jamie Street. Further information can be found in Unsplash FAQ.

Dreamstime - small free area

Actually he has Stock service Dreamstime its focus on paid photographic material. However, there is also one Area with free offers, in which you can rummage every now and then. Perhaps you will find something suitable by chance.

Wikimedia: Images are not always stored under CC0

Wikimedia as part of Wikipedia also stands for the free, free and unrestricted transfer of knowledge - especially with regard to media such as images and videos. Many graphics are stored under the CC0 license, so you don't have to name either the source or the author. Sometimes other Creative Commons versions are also used. So always look at the image information when searching on Wikimedia.de. ;)

My warning about a photo by Pixelio: 1071,44 EUR, the fun can quickly cost you if you use the wrong pictures. For this reason, I have since been more inclined to the paid portals that I have listed below for you (Photo: JK).

My warning about a photo by Pixelio: 1.071,44 EUR, the fun can quickly cost you if you use the wrong pictures. For this reason, I have since been more inclined to the paid portals that I have listed below for you (Photo: JK).

Pixelio as a negative example: two warnings cause frustration

Pixelio, a similar site, has dropped out of my list of recommended sites for royalty-free images and free photos. After two warnings were received in which the photographer of the respective image complained directly to a lawyer about the use and demanded a hefty amount, Pixelio no longer comes in the bag. My "mistake" was simply that I did not mention the source directly under the picture but in the imprint. Even if there are nice pictures on the portal, the financial risk is simply too high for me.

I assume that one or the other photographer apparently only posts his photos there in order to then warn people who make a small mistake in labeling. Then pay a few euros at 123rf.com, fotolia.de, iStock or GettyImages and be on the safe side ...

Google image search: free and for commercial use

Pictures and photos should be free, that is the motto of many bloggers and webmasters. Because by using graphics, which are offered free of charge and freely for commercial use, you save money when loading pages. It seems that Google has taken on this problem extensively.

The Google image search also offers the search for royalty-free images and photos. The tool for this is called "Usage Rights".

The Google image search also offers the search for public domain images. The tool for this is called "Usage Rights".

When searching for images, Google offers the tool “Rights of use” or the selection from “Marked for reuse and modification” to “Marked for non-commercial reuse” (four options). I don't know when the option was introduced; I didn't find her personally until the beginning of 2017.

How do you find the right royalty-free photo?

Which pages or tools do you use to equip your projects, pages, blogs and shops with appealing images and photos - and without spending any money on them? Or maybe you use the above-mentioned pages privately to equip your Facebook profile with a warning-proof? And do you name the photographers if you can see them, even if you use CC0 images? Feel free to leave a comprehensive comment;)

Update 22.06.2018/XNUMX/XNUMX: Portals for paid, but royalty-free image material

For the sake of completeness, I would like to add a short list to include the portals that offer royalty-free image material for money. Personally, I like to use them to buy pictures for my blog articles, because I know that there are no black sheep hiding there who first offer their photos for free, only to warn me 2 years later because of incorrect sources.

I had a conversation with Fotolia (before it was bought by Adobe) and got the feedback that they would appreciate a source, but this is not absolutely necessary - not even if the works were to be used commercially. So you wouldn't have expected a warning if you didn't install it, after all, you paid for the photo.

Another advantage of the paid image databases is the fact that they usually have a larger selection and also provide stock videos, illustrations, vector graphics, wallpapers (which can be seamlessly connected) and a more sophisticated search function. Especially when it comes to business and time is more important than spending 2-3 euros, these portals are usually the better choice. Most portals also have "extended licenses" - that is, licenses that are quite expensive, but allow you to also produce products such as postcards with the motifs that you can sell.

So here these portals:

Update 03.09.2019/100.000/XNUMX: Pikwizard with XNUMX+ images

There are now other providers of free CC0 images that can be used publicly at no cost. Among other things, has Picwizard Reported to me to inform that they also have over 100.000 photos available in the database. With around 20.000 images, a fifth of the range is available exclusively on the Pikwizard page. The structure is like Unsplash and Pexels, so that the operation of the platform is extremely intuitive. In addition to the photos, there are also videos that can be used free of charge as stock footage. You can find the link to the page in the list above;)

Be careful when using it in social media marketing

A danger that not everyone is aware of is the use of the images - even if they were purchased for money - in social media. You are allowed to use the pictures for commercial purposes, but if you upload your photos to Facebook and Co., you tacitly accept the Facebook terms of use.

And these say that the company is given the unrestricted right of use without any time limit. Since this can only be done by the author of the photo (copyright), you are no longer on the safe side from a legal point of view as soon as one of the photos ends up on the social media portals. So it is up to the author's tolerance whether you get into trouble here or not.

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12 comments

  1. Henry08 says:

    Great article! I want to design my homepage and was desperately looking for license-free manuscript images. Now I've finally found it thanks to your links

  2. Fotonapf.de says:

    I recently started a homepage where I offer pictures of myself with a CC BY 4.0 and CC0 1.0 license. Is there something for you guys? The url: https://www.fotonapf.de

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      I usually delete comments with Domain as the name directly. But in your case I'll make an exception, because I think the idea behind the project is worth supporting. : D I had already thought of something similar, but somehow I don't have the time ... ;-)

  3. Aerdna says:

    Images from Fotolia are not entirely unproblematic either.

    In the terms of use (https://de.fotolia.com/Info/Agreements/StandardLicense#s3.) it says in § 3.2 Use on websites. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this agreement, you must take all reasonable precautions with regard to the use and display of a work on websites that prevent the downloading or reuse of the work by visitors to the website.

    According to Fotolia, "reasonable precautions" are a right-click lock or a blank gif image over the image file.
    If images are included in flyers or presentations, these may only be made available for download as copy-protected PDFs.

    For me it is impractical to check every few weeks in all browsers that the scripts are still running and that the "reasonable precautions" are still working. I will terminate our Fotolia account.

    Apparently you are only really on the safe side legally if you only use your own pictures and graphics - and have not accidentally depicted the Eiffel Tower on a photo.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Thank you for your hint. I didn't understand about the Eiffel Tower? Why shouldn't it be shown in a photo? With regard to Fotolia, the terms of use that you read there may be strange, but in practice in over 10 years of using the photos I have not yet received a warning or a notice of "incorrect" use. At Pixelio, on the other hand, after 1-2 years, in which I hardly used any photos, I received two warnings that cost me over 2 euros. My decision is clearly in favor of Fotolia.

      • Aerdna says:

        In general, the publication of photos of works of art is problematic - especially in the case of more recent works for which the copyright has not yet expired, or the museum has property rights or house rights.

        The Eiffel Tower is a special case. I should have written correctly "the Eiffel Tower at night". Here a French company has rights to the lighting.

        You can find more about works of art in this article: https://www.welt.de/finanzen/verbraucher/article130853217/Nachtfotos-vom-Eiffelturm-koennen-teuer-werden.html

        You're right, of course, that the likelihood of being warned for using a Fotolia photo is relatively unlikely, but it's not impossible. And I really want to be on the safe side, legally, when I buy extra photos. Especially since I also use this for a company website.

        • Sir Apfelot says:

          Ouch ... the lighting rights? And that's why I'm not allowed to publish a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night? How stupid is that ... the world is getting sicker ... But of course you are right to the extent that one should basically comply with the terms of use. So there is a residual risk if it is not taken into account. You have to see for yourself what you are entering into and what crosses your personal limit.

  4. After Pixabay converted its license into its own Pixabay license since January 9.01.2018th, 0 (without notice) and it is very vague, I also decided to take my photos with a specific website CC3000. At the moment there are over XNUMX images available Quer Beet have a look inside
    http://www.pixxafree.com
    downloads without registration
    Greetings kai

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Kai! Great, thank you for pointing us to your page. I saw that you implemented the project with WordPress. Would you like to write us which plugin / theme you are using for it? Perhaps there are more photographers who would like to make their portfolio available under the CC0 license. LG!

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