Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Finding high-quality images can be difficult, especially if you are trying to do it on a budget. Here are four sources for free, high-quality stock photographs.
Stock.xchng (SXC) offers a wide variety of high-quality, high-resolution photographs. The SXC library also includes illustrations and clip art.
SXC’s standard permissions allows for public and corporate use. Some restrictions apply to promoting products and services using SXC photography depicting persons. SXC also asks that you acquire permission to use photographs in work you intend to resell.
When browsing SXC, you may also find photos requiring you to notify and credit the creator when using the photo. This is displayed under the “Availability” section when viewing an image. Attribution is not required in most cases.
MorgueFile offers a very simple interface for finding photos. Unlike most stock photography sites, morgueFile provides images specifically for use in derivative work, where an image is altered or customized. If you are looking to use an image as is, morgueFile suggests contacting the original photographer.
One of morgueFile’s features is the ability to “star” favorite images and view all your starred images in a tab. MorgueFile also lets you browse photos from other paid stock photography sites using the tabs at the top of the site, bringing morgueFile’s simplicity to larger paid photography networks.
If you don’t mind providing attribution, Pixel Perfect Digital is a good resource for more polished stock photography. All Pixel Perfect Digital images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, allowing you to edit and use photos commercially, provided you credit Pixel Perfect Digital for the photo.
Pixel Perfect Digital has a useful advanced search for photos by orientation, gallery, and even a specific color. All Pixel Perfect Digital images are assigned to a color palette, making it possible to search for them within a percentage of a color range.
Everystockphoto is a stock photography search engine that pulls from stock photo sources around the Internet, including Flickr, NASA, Wikipedia, morgueFile, and Stock.xchng. One of everystockphoto’s most useful features is its advanced search, letting you narrow your search results by a number of factors, including resolution and license.
While the benefit of everystockphoto is its ability to pull images from a variety of sources based on your licensing needs, keep in mind that most of the attribution-free, commercial use photos will be from stock.xchng.
The most important thing when looking for stock photography is to know how an image is licensed. Most stock photography sites are very clear about licensing policies, but always check. Never assume a photo is free to use commercially.
For example, Stockvault has an attractive interface and offers many high quality, polished images that might make you assume they could be used commercially. However, Stockvault doesn’t provide any licensing for commercial use of any kind. So always check how a site licenses its photographs before investing too much time in searching for the perfect image.
Be especially careful with photographs depicting people. Licensing tends to be stricter for photographs with people — especially for commercial use.