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Pixabay: Excellent Image Resource for Articles

Updated on May 5, 2015

You already know my stance on how awesome creative commons licensing is. The only way to one up that is to have resources that don't require citation. In other words, royalty free or public domain products such as images. Pixabay is a site where volunteer photographers, subsisting on donations, upload royalty-free images for free download. It doesn't have an enormous collection of the proportions of Google images or Flickr, but it does an excellent job of just getting you what you want.

What's so great about Pixabay?

  • Advertisements are minimal and non-existent if you contribute 10 images of your own.
  • If you sign up for an account, you can download as many as you want with no capcha. When not logged in, you must enter a capcha to download and can't download maxresolution images.
  • The site's design and theme are very clean. Unlike many free image sites, Pixabay actually looks good.
  • Browse by category, image type, orientation, transparency, and color - reasonable filtering to find what you need.
  • No annoying premium account requests - Uploaders make money through donations
  • Almost all images are royalty-free which means no attribution required.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Using Pixabay Images in Articles

Right about this section is a series of free stock photography without required attribution that I picked out from Pixabay so you could judge for yourselves. As you can see, where Pixabay excels is at stock photography. There are many images that are actually high quality and can serve as pretty good featured images for your posts. That's been the main way that I've been using them. One problem with featured images and creative commons is that most themes don't let you attribute the featured image in the caption. That means, to legally use a creative commons image as your featured image, you have to attribute the image elsewhere like your pages body or a custom field. With Pixabay, you can literally just upload and publish. If you need an image resource for your blog, for your news site, or constructing YouTube thumbnails then I would strongly recommend giving the site a try.

How Pixabay Works

You might be wondering how Pixabay is even possible. Here's a brief overview of how the site operates.

  • Photographers and anyone else who signs up to the site can upload their images.
  • Anyone who comes by can download images for free by typing in a captcha. Captcha is removed for anyone who logs in and they can also download the highest resolution version by doing so.
  • Image uploaders do not make money on each download since each download is free. Tipping the image authors is possible and probably appreciated since it takes effort to take the best shots. However, it's largely a community project at the end of the day for getting people the resources they need for creative projects.

Why Public Domain / No Attribution is a Big Deal

Even with Pixabay public domain images, I usually try to give credit and link back to the site partially to say thanks. However, public domain does have some distinct advantages over creative commons. For one thing, there is only one type of public domain and that is that it's freely available for you to use without limits in your own projects. Another is that it's not always actually possible to give credit back to authors so easily. If you've ever used platforms like WordPress then you already know that the featured image function has no field available for setting attribution. This means that every time you want to credit the image you'd need to add it somewhere in the text body which is fine but rather annoying to be honest.


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