7 Fantastic Free or Low Cost Sources To Get Images for Your Content Strategy | Beth’s Blog

7 Fantastic Free or Low Cost Sources To Get Images for Your Content Strategy

Content, Visual

Flickr Image by Sam Howzit

Images, visuals, videos, and infographics are being staples of nonprofit’s content strategy, especially for social channels.   While Facebook recently launched a huge free stock photo archive for use in Facebook ads,  finding compelling, high quality images that are low cost or free for image overlays, blog post and other channels can be difficult.    I recently asked nonprofits on my Facebook brand page where they got their images.   Here’s a round up of resources and advice.

It is important to respect copyright laws.  It isn’t a good idea to just grab an image from Internet, tweak it, and call it your own.  That’s not the definition of fair use.   Some images are in the public domain and some of licensed through creative commons which can be used as long as you give proper attribution.

An excellent source of images is to take them yourself with your digital camera or mobile phone camera.    If you practice some the basic photography rules, you should be able to DIY some good images for your content strategy.

I put together list of many resources for low cost or free stock images based on the recommendations from fans on Facebook, but here is a short list of the services more frequently mentioned as favorites from nonprofit folks.

1.   Flickr Creative Commons – Flickr is a photo site but it offers creative commons licensing and you can use it combined with keyword searches to find an image.  I’ve been using this method for almost ten years!

2.  Microsoft Office Clip Art Collection – This collection includes a combination of photos and illustrations and if you ever used the clip art option in PowerPoint, these will look familiar.

3.  Morgue File – This collection of photographs were freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative projects.   This collection was started in 1996 and you will find many beautiful images here.

4. Photoshare – This collection focuses on images that depict international health as part of  the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project and was funded by USAID

5. Wikipedia Public Domain Images – Wikipedia uses public domain images and has organized a collection with information on how the photos can be used and attributed.

6.  Wylio – This is a searchable archive of public domain or creative commons licensed photos that bloggers can use.

7.  Stock Exchange –   This is a huge image archive of stock photos that are available for free.

These should get you started . I’ve pulled together a more comprehensive list of free or low cost stock images at list.ly.

What are your favorite sources for free or low cost images or illustrations?

22 Responses

  1. Leo Dimilo says:

    There are other places too that you can find some pretty cool images. For instance, you can visit society6 and deviantart and actually ask the artists themselves if they would mind you using one of their prints if you would be willing to link to it.

    Some photographer websites will be happy to oblige as well because it could mean more exposure.

    The good part about this is your images will likely be unique because you aren’t pulling from highly used resources. The bad part is that it takes time to get answers.

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  3. Jackie says:

    Thanks Beth for this really helpful post. I feel like I have almost exhausted the photos at Stock Exchange so I am excited to see some others great options. Morgue File looks especially cool. I am on the lookout for some nice “blank” images and others that may look nice for text overlays as well as blog posts. Thanks again!

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  5. [...] Images, visuals, videos, and infographics are being staples of nonprofit’s content strategy, especially for social channels. While Facebook recently launched a huge free stock photo archive for use in Facebook ads, finding compelling, high quality images that are low cost or free for image overlays, blog post and other channels can be difficult. I recently asked nonprofits on my Facebook brand page where they got their images. Here’s a round up of resources and advice.  [...]

  6. Beth says:

    Jackie and Leo – thanks so much for your kind words and the tips and additional resources. Let me know what you find out.

  7. Don’t forget museums, the keepers of the world’s treasured images! Here’s a list of museums that have made public domain images easy to find and download for reuse:
    http://blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes/2013/08/the-list-art-museums-and-the-public-domain/

  8. [...] Images, visuals, videos, and infographics are being staples of nonprofit's content strategy, especially for social channels.  [...]

  9. Nina says:

    These are fantastic – especially the link to the art galleries and museums list – THANK YOU, I am really excited about that one!!

    Another to add to the list:

    rgbstock.com

    It was started by some of the people who did sxc.hu (the wonderful stockxchange, already mentioned by others here).

    rgbstock is still relatively young and growing but looks great – main limitation is that its search function isn’t all that good as yet but it’s worth sticking with.

    Also the creative commons section on Flickr is good for some hard-to-get topics – I needed one on a specific type of present-wrapping recently and found what I needed in that part of Flickr, just needed an attribution. I don’t like how Flickr has changed its layout one bit – looks like Google Images and much harder to browse now even if it might look cool. But again it’s worth sticking with it despite that.

  10. I use Photopin. It easy to use and they curate a nice collection (mostly sourced from Flicker).

  11. Full disclosure: I work on the Knowledge for Health Project. What I love most about Photoshare is that the collection is curated–carefully captioned and tagged by context to make it quickly searchable. Instead of spending hours pawing through stock collections, I can find relevant images on Photoshare in minutes. It’s also all photographer-contributed imagery, and open source–we recently added batch upload and Flickr integration functionalities which were contributed back to Drupal. Thanks for the mention!

  12. Beth says:

    Simone – I love the site. I wish there was one in all the cause areas. Great work

  13. [...] Von Microsoft bis Stock Exchange: Quellen für kostenlose und lizenzfreie Bilder im Netz. http://www.bethkanter.org/image-sources/ [...]

  14. [...] are being staples of nonprofit’s content strategy, especially for social channels.See on http://www.bethkanter.org Pass this on!Like this:Like [...]

  15. [...] SocialFish: Non-Profits Use Vine for Good Donor Dreams: What does the non-profit leader of tomorrow look like? Socialbrite: 11 Nonprofit Pinterest board ideas you can steal socialmediatoday: On-Page SEO Tips for PR Pros socialmediatoday: 7 Benefits of Monitoring Social Engagement on Google Plus Beth Kanter: 7 Fantastic Free or Low Cost Sources To Get Images for Your Content Strategy [...]

  16. [...] 7 Fantastic Free or Low Cost Sources To Get Images for Your Content Strategy While Facebook recently launched a huge free stock photo archive for use in Facebook ads, finding compelling, high quality images that are low cost or free for image overlays, blog post and other channels can be difficult. Here’s a round up of resources and advice. By Beth Kanter [...]

  17. Amandah says:

    Thanks for the list!

    I use Stock Exchange and Free Digital Photos.net in combination with purchasing images from Big Stock Photography. I wanted to use Creative Commons, but I wasn’t sure if I could use some of the photos, especially if I use them in advertisements that will generate donations for the nonprofit I work with.

  18. Hi Beth, thanks for the post. I’ve also been using http://www.foter.com which has good quality images that are easy to find and which clarify terms for re-use, eg CC.

  19. [...] Office Clipart Collection (tip via Beth Kanter): Microsoft Clipart, Photos & [...]

  20. Beth says:

    Steve: Thanks for that awesome resource!

  21. [...] out these 7 fantastic free or low cost sources to get images for your content strategy from Beth Kanter’s recent blog [...]