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Free images: Five tips for finding great images for free

There are days when you just need a free image. Maybe it’s a pro bono project, maybe the client has no money, or maybe it’s a personal project. Here are five tips for getting and using free images.

Use an existing image from a stock image site that offers them for free

There are a number of sites that offer images for use for free, including Pexels, Pixabay and Morguefile. All three of these allow you to use images for either personal or commercial use without attribution for free. If you need vector images, Vecteezy is great. Pixabay and Freepix also have vectors available. While Pexels and Pixabay allow you to use images without attribution, Vecteezy asks that you give credit to Vecteezy. All these free sites are sponsored by paid sites, so be prepared for pop-ups from Shutterstock and DepositPhotos.

Check Wikipedia for free images

Another place you can check for images is Wikipedia. A number of these are in the public domain (especially older pieces of art) and other current images are available for use with an attribution to the creator. When you click on the image and click download, any Creative Commons license will show as well as instructions on how to credit the creator of the image. It will also let you know if you can’t use it under any circumstances.

Check the attribution and license

Even free images have requests for how and where you should use them. Check to make sure that you can use them for commercial use and make sure that you attribute them as requested. As I mentioned above, some sites allow you to use free and uncredited, but others would like an attribution. And some sites only offer free images for personal use or restricted use. Creative Market offers free design assets every Monday, but those do come with some strings attached. After all, many of these sites are trying to upgrade you to the paid images, which are often better quality.

Don’t use the watermarked image from any site

You can download a comp image from any of the stock imagery sites, like iStock, Shutterstock and the like. That image is for one thing only: comps. You can use it to mock up whatever product you need, but when it comes time to deliver the final, you need to buy the right to use that image.

Don’t download images from someone’s personal stash

Just because someone posts an image on the web doesn’t mean that it’s in the public arena. While there are places you can trawl for pictures that you might be able to use for free (like Flickr), most people that have made their work public have also included a Creative Commons license. If you see something that you like, check with the creator and see if they’ll let you use it for free or how much they might like for the rights.

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

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