How to Find License-Free Photos


You’ve written an amazing post for your blog — corporate, personal or otherwise — and now you want to find the perfect image to go along with it. Most people’s first instinct in this situation is to go to Google, type in a keyword and scroll through the image results until they find a picture that fits the bill. Then they attach it to their post, publish it and call it a day.

However, because you’ve landed on this page, I’m guessing you know that picking a random image off the Internet and attaching it to your blog is not a good idea. In fact, it’s an illegal idea. Good for you! I wholeheartedly applaud you for respecting copyright laws and not stealing other people’s creations. And because you’re doing the right thing, I want to help you out.

Here are some tips from an editorial insider on how to find license-free photographs:

1. Leverage Google Search Tools

In the aforementioned scenario, there’s actually one easy step that would make the process legal. Once you’ve entered your keyword into Google Images, you can adjust the search to show only photographs that can be reused and/or modified. You simply select the “Search Tools” drop-down and adjust the “Usage Rights” option to fit your needs.


And voila! Just like that, you now can browse through images that you can reuse and alter without fear of repercussion. Thanks, Google!

2. Search Creative Commons Sites

Using Google Search in the way described above is the easiest way to pull images from a variety of sites. Alternatively, you can also take your search directly to sites like Wikimedia Commons, where users upload all kinds of photographs for free use. There are over 30 million photographs available, though some are better quality than others.

You can also go to Flickr and adjust the search parameters so you’re only searching images that are labeled for reuse, commercial reuse, reuse with modifications, etc.

3. Browse Free Stock Photo Collections

This is generally my go-to option when I’m looking for license-free pictures. There are certain photo repositories that provide photos with Creative Commons Zero licenses. This really is the promised land. You can do whatever you want with these photographs, no strings attached. Personally, my favorite site is Unsplash.


The photos on Unsplash are beautiful, high-quality, high-resolution shots. There are a lot of nature pictures, but there are also photos of people, animals and objects. Most of the photographs have a similar vibe — very muted colors and artsy composure — so if you’re looking for stocky photos, this site isn’t for you.

Another great option is Gratisography, which has some nice, basic shots but also out-of-the-box photographs as well. You can also try StockSnap! I don’t personally use this site, but I’ve heard good things about it.

As you can see, there’s really no need to illegally redistribute other people’s photographs on your blog. There are ample ways to find perfect visuals that are free to use. So what are you waiting for? Go create amazing content!


4 responses to “How to Find License-Free Photos”

  1. This was a really great help! Thanks so much! I just downloaded a bunch from Gratisography. I think that’s my favorite over Unsplash but thank you!

    • I’m glad you found it useful, Taylor! Gratisography and Unsplash have very different aesthetics, so I think it’s often a matter of personal preference.

      Have a great weekend!

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