Unless you have got an in-house photographer at your disposal or the budget to hire one on a regular basis, furnishing your website with high resolution imagery can be expensive. This is why free website images are such a life saver for smaller, more budget conscious businesses.
Think about it – on average a single web page can have anywhere between 3-5 images depending on length, perhaps more! Add into the equation, 5 site pages (services, about us, contact us etc.) and weekly blogs (to keep your site ranking), and you are looking at a long term expense.
Luckily, filling your website with imagery no longer has to be expensive. In fact, it is now possible to fill your website, blogs and articles with stunning imagery without ever having to pay royalties or hire a photographer.
How? By using free stock image websites.
These sites are a fantastic way to gain high resolution website photography and kit out your site, without any of the hassle of organising photoshoots and finding the right photographer.
Recognising the good website images from the bad?
The first step when using these types of website is being able to recognise which images are free and which are licensed.
Now, most are pretty honest and deliberately separate these groups to prevent confusion. However if you’re unsure then the important keywords to look for are ‘creative commons’ and ‘royalty- free imagery’.
Both of these phrases indicate that the images you are looking at are free to download, aren’t licensed and don’t require attribution to the photographer or the site you’ve got them from. Instead, you can freely download them and, if given the option, choose from a range of download sizes.
If however, you see watermark labels on the images, sign-up fees or the phrase ‘licensed by’ then these images might not be free and you may need to a pay a small fee to join/register before you can use them.
Picking the right free website images
Free stock image websites are a growing trend, so should you go look for them, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
However to help get you started, we’ve picked out some of the best free image websites currently on the market:
Flickr is easily one of the biggest image websites at the moment as it allows budding and experienced photographers to showcase their work and earn money through downloads.
Now whilst a large portion of their images are licensed (so you need to pay to use them), Flickr does have a Creative Commons section where you can access free website images. This section caters to all industry fields; however can be a little keyword sensitive so you might find yourself searching for a while before finding the right picture.
Similarly, their tagging feature whilst useful also allows photographers to wrongly tag an image, meaning the results you pull won’t always be appropriate.
This up and coming site is incredibly easy to use and allows you to browse, upload your own imagery and download other photographers work. All of their images are licensed under ‘creative commons’, meaning there is no chance of confusion. Similarly, no attribution to the original photographer is required, so you can freely pick and choose across their whole range.
And you’ll definitely have plenty to choose from. With 50 new photos being added every day; Pexels offers imagery that can easily become a background website image as well as a single shot. Images range from the sky to waterfalls to abstract to fashion to music, roads, cars, food, landscapes and sunsets.
Claiming to have over 388,000 free photos and illustrations, Freeimages.com offers clear concise sections and categories that are easy to navigate as well as covers a number of industries.
Architecture, landscapes, nature, business, finance, army, people, health, festivals and much more… it is easy to get lost within the beauty captured in these images, and their breadth of choice.
The site does ask you to sign-up, however this is free and comes with no obligations.
With hundreds of new high resolution images being added weekly, Stocksnap is a reliable source for keeping your own site imagery fresh and unique.
All of their images fall under ‘creative commons’ making them free to use without permission and the site itself is pretty easy to use. Simply search for your chosen field i.e. architecture, and it will provide you with a whole host of beautiful images that they have been purposefully sourced from all over the web.
Unsplash is small in comparison to most free stock image websites as they only add 10 new photographs every 10 days. However, this doesn’t detract from the artistry and creativity witnessed in many of their high resolution images.
Much of their imagery appears to be captured moments – hands flowing across a piano, abstract views of buildings, landscapes… yet there is a strong market for these type of images, especially if you’re looking for free website background images or want to create a fresh, warm website.
Pixabay supplies a vast collection of free photos, illustrations and videos that you can be modified, distributed and used anywhere. All are free to use under creative commons (including commercially), and whilst initially this site appears to specialise in arty/trendy images; with focused searches you can find basic site imagery that can be utilised across a breath of different industries.
Probably one of the first websites to branch out from paid imagery into free stock, Dreamstime has catered to businesses for many years by providing them with an extensive collection of photographs.
Admittedly, Dreamstime’s primary focus is encouraging businesses to invest in their cheap payment plans (where they can pick and choose their imagery until their money runs out or they need to top-up), however Dreamstime does also offer a decent range of free website images that swing between artistic and abstract, to business orientated.
overflowing with free images, videos, illustrations and audio clips; to access istockphoto’s collection you will need to sign-up and register. However, once you do you will gain access to a vast collection of high resolution, arty photographs that are far more realistic and natural, and don’t look staged as is often the case on other websites.
This site boldly claims to have over 80 million royalty free images with thousands more being added every week. To use you will need to register, however unlike many of its competitors, Shutterstock has a ‘save for later’ function plus clearly identifiable editorial and generic photo sections.
On top of this, you’ll can also utilise their free footage, music, icons and vectors which could prove useful depending on your business/industry.
Filling your site with website photography doesn’t have to be a chore, nor does it have be an ongoing expense.
Whether you are designing your website from your scratch; are working to a budget, or you simply want to integrate imagery into your weekly posts; it is now possible to access thousands of licence free photographs that can help to maintain the professionalism of your site. Simply look for the phrases ‘no attributions’ and ‘creative commons’ and the world is your oyster.