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Where to find free stock photos for hubs and blogs

Updated on May 12, 2011

Understanding Photo licensing

There are many sources for free photos and images on the web that can provide visual content to help you improve your hubs and blogs / websites. In this hub I outline the main license types and models that exist allowing use of images without payment or the need for negotiating useage, but still usually with some conditions attached.

The starting point for all creative content is "all rights reserved' traditional copyright. A copyrighted image may still be given for free use but this need to be requested and agreed by the copyright holder. The following licensing methods make using images simpler as the copyright holder has expressly granted permission for them to be used by offering them under a license allowing this.

Good photos can make your hub much more appealing

Limited Royalty Free Licenses

Images offered under standard Royalty Free Licenses are not free! The term is confusing but the word free here indicates the freedom for an image buyer to reuse an image without having to renogiate license fees as would be the case with a traditional Rights Managed stock photograph. For a fuller explanation of RF and RM licensing see here.

For the purposes of this hub the point to note is that many sources of RF stock photography do offer some of their content for free use. These images will be available on a distinct limited RF license and their use may be restricted in some form, for instance the maximum print run of a printed product allowed may be relatively small. If you're after web sized images for a hub this isn't going to worry you overly!

A common business model amongst free image providers is to provide small versions of the images for free but charge for full high resolution file sizes. This can be seen at for example. Again if content for web publishing is your need many of these small images will be useful.

It is also worth remembering to check the microstock photography websites as most now have collections of free images available and these are often offered at full resolution size but with some restrictions of a more limited license. A guide on the best microstock sites for free images can be found here.

This image is available in the Public Domain
This image is available in the Public Domain

Public Domain Photos

Photos placed in the public domain are free to use without limitations, including commercial use. The issue to be aware of with PD images is that while the photographer may have decided to place the image in the public domain that may not make it entirely safe to use. If a photo shows recognisable individuals or property it would be wise to be careful unless relevant model and/or property releases are available. A common problem is where logos and branding are visible in a photo. In these cases the images shouldn't really be in the public domain; so don't use them.

Creative Commons Licenses

There are numerous creative commons licenses available covering a range of possible permitted uses. The basic idea behind CC licenses is to facilitate creators in easily allowing uses of their work they are happy with. Click here for more info on CC licenses. So it is important to carefully note the particular creative commons license that an image is being offered under in order to not inadvertantly break the terms. A very common CC license to be found allows use of images in return for 'attribution', which basically means linking back to the authors site or profile where you found the image to give them credit. Unless I'm missing something it isn't possible to include hyperlinks in hub photo capsules so this attribution either has to be the caption or, as I've done in this hub, you can include a credits box.

When using CC images on hubpages it is important to look out for a common restriction on commercial use. If you publish a hub that will include advertising on the page then that counts as commercial, so these CC images would no longer be available for free use.

So, where do you find creative commons photos and images? Well Flickr is the go to destination for these free photos. Here's a step by step guide with screenshots to finding free photos on Flickr.

Hopefully this hub has given you a basic understanding of photo licensing and the knowledge to find photos and images you can legally use for free in your hubs and own websites.


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    • profile image

      Aiden 5 years ago

      i try to get some images and clip-arts at when its pretty cool because there a lots of categories that i can choose of. So I grant if you use this site you will like to specially all the image are free.

    • alexhd57 profile image

      alexhd57 5 years ago

      Hey, glad this hub is still proving useful!

    • April P Clemens profile image

      April P Clemens 5 years ago from VT

      Ah, thanks so much to the author and commenters! I was struggling with this problem yesterday, trying to find some free and fitting images for my articles.

      After finding a few sites that advertised images for free, I was perplexed when they actually weren't.

      Now I can embellish!

      ~Best regards :)

    • profile image

      Brish 5 years ago

      Flickr is also good provider of stock photos. But, I have one site know that can give more high resolution of images and great shots of free stock photos. It is you can visit the site and download all the image that you want.

    • ssteinberger profile image

      ssteinberger 5 years ago

      Great collection - thanks! My recommendation: - it's another resource for public domain images. My personal favorite, because no attribution is necessary and most images are just great quality.

    • sam70 profile image

      sam70 6 years ago

      Thanks for your picture link ideas.

    • Lenny Rinen profile image

      Lenny Rinen 6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Hi! I am a newbie and this helps a lot, thanks for sharing, awesome!

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      As a newcomer to hubpages this has helped me a great deal. There is so much to learn! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Joanne Bryant profile image

      Joanne Bryant 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the useful tips. This was great.

    • BooksGalore profile image

      BooksGalore 7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for being willing to share your knowledge.

    • thesweetlife profile image

      thesweetlife 7 years ago from San Diego, California

      I am new to hubpages, so this was very useful, thank you!

    • Wriggling Writer profile image

      Wriggling Writer 7 years ago from Essex (UK)

      Thanks - this is very useful information!

    • alexhd57 profile image

      alexhd57 7 years ago

      Looks like a useful resource Cascoly. It's a win-win situation with you offering images and getting the link promotions in return; good job, I hope it proves worthwhile for you.

    • cascoly profile image

      cascoly 7 years ago from seattle

      i'm relatively new to hubpages but have been a stock photographer for 40 years. i allow anyone to use my images on hubpages if they just include a credit.

    • AnthonyJ.Langford profile image

      AnthonyJ.Langford 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks very much for the info. Extremely handy!


    • profile image

      darhackney 7 years ago

      Thank you very much ! Your explanation was very useful !

    • Sirwilly profile image

      Ezeh Izuchukwu 'Sirwar' Williams 7 years ago from Enugu, Nigeria

      Thanks very much for the info. I will be linking to your page from mine.


    • Deni Edwards profile image

      Deni Edwards 7 years ago from california

      thanks for the info--

      very well written and easy to understand, too

    • profile image

      iAccuse 7 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to share this info, it's very helpful.

    • svetits profile image

      svetits 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great hub with rich information. Cheers alexhd57.

    • alexhd57 profile image

      alexhd57 7 years ago

      You're welcome guys, and thanks for reading.

    • catalystsnstars profile image

      catalystsnstars 7 years ago from Land of Nod

      That really did help, thank you.

    • fits4life profile image

      Cherri Brown-Jett 7 years ago from Richmond

      Thanks for your help. I will take your advice. I need all the help I can get.