How to find copyright-free images (and avoiding a stock photo subscription)

free, photo, stock, photography, copyright

Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, guides, and advice on how to easily get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and other stuff.

Whether you use them to demonstrate a point, provide evidence, or simply to break up a long block of text, images are undeniably a homestead in content creation. Unfortunately, not every image you stumble upon is free to use — not without risking getting yourself in legal trouble.

Tons of stock photography services like Shutterstock, Getty Images, and iStock have figured out how to monetize your need for visuals by offering often pricey image subscriptions. But before you budget in a stock photo subscription to your monthly expenses, you should know there are free alternatives.

And we’ve got a couple of tips on how to find beautiful copyright-free images.

Let’s start with the obvious one — Google Image Search.

If you search for any term and head to the Images section in Google, you’ll instantly find thousands of images. There’s one issue, though: Some of them might be copyrighted and you might be putting yourself (or your employer) at risk. Fortunately, you can filter images by usage rights, which will help you avoid that.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Click on Tools. This will expand a drop down menu that lets you sort the images by their license.
  • Depending on what you need (you might want to use the image as it is or make certain modifications to it) select the category that best fits your intended usage.
  • That’s pretty much it.

Google Image Search is easy and quick to use, but the images tend to be pretty generic and not all that aesthetically pleasing — even by stock photography standards.

That’s why I personally prefer free stock photography sites. There are some downsides compared to Google Images like less choice, but the images are generally of higher quality and have a more professional look to them.

Here are a couple of our favorite free stock photo sites:

If you’re looking for copyright-free PNG cutouts, you should check out PNGPlay, Icon8, and PNGimg.

Even though a lot of these images are free to use without any attribution, you can support the creators by giving them credit, which in turn gives their work more exposure. You might not have the resources to purchase their images, but someone else might be interested in hiring them. Crediting them for their work helps with that.

You get to save some money by avoiding buying a Shutterstock subscription, they get free exposure. It’s a win-win.

 

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