72 Free Image Sources for Authors

by | May 13, 2019

By Shelley Sturgeon

Nearly ten years ago, not long after Joel first started The Book Designer, he wrote an article entitled 4 Incredible Free Sources for Photos to Use in Your Book or Blog.

As you can imagine, that article is somewhat out of date and we have been discussing for a while now that we should update it.

So today I would like to present our new and expanded list of 72 free sources for photos. These images can potentially be used for book covers, social media and blog post images.

Using these sites

Some of the sites in this list are reputable, some of them aren’t as well known. As any wise “netizen” knows, it is always a good idea to scan downloaded files to check for viruses.

Please also read the fine print on each site—if it exists. Some of the sites are very straight forward and invite you to download their images and use as you wish. But most sites detail whether:

  • there are restrictions on how and where their images are allowed to be used, i.e. personal, editorial or commercial use, etc.
  • the images can be edited
  • they want you to attribute the photo to them (I almost always leave a photo credit at the bottom of posts even if the image came from a free site that doesn’t request attribution. I see it as a way to give them a nod and a bit of exposure and it helps me to remember where I got the photo later if I want to go back to the site in the future.)
  • model releases have been signed by individuals who appear in their images although this is more common in sites where you buy images versus sites that offer free images
  • you are required to create an account with them
  • there is a limit to the number of free photos you can use from their site

72 Sites Offering Free Images

  1. A Digital Dreamer
  2. albumarium
  3. Alegri Photos
  4. AllTheFreeStock
  5. Ancestry Images
  6. AvoPix
  7. BarnImages
  8. Beautiful Free Stock Photos
  9. Big Foto
  10. Burst
  11. Cepolina
  12. Cupcake
  13. DesignersPics
  14. Dreamstime
  15. e-Cobo
  16. EveryStockPhoto
  17. FancyCrave
  18. Foodiesfeed
  19. Free Digital Photos
  20. Free Nature Stock
  21. Free Stock Photos
  22. FreeImages
  23. FreeImagesLive
  24. FreeMediaGoo
  25. FreeRange
  26. Getty Images
  27. GoodFreePhotos
  28. Gratisography
  29. Hubspot
  30. Im Free
  31. ImageBase
  32. ImageFree
  33. ISO
  34. Jay Mantri
  35. Jeshoots
  36. LargePhotos
  37. Library of Congress
  38. LibreShot
  39. LibreStock
  40. Life of Pix
  41. Little Visuals
  42. Magdeleine
  43. MMT
  44. Morguefile
  45. Negative Space
  46. New Old Stock
  47. NOAA Photo Library
  48. Pexels
  49. picjumbo
  50. Pickup Image
  51. Picography
  52. PikWizard
  53. Pixabay
  54. Polarfox
  55. Raw Pixels – Free Images
  56. Raw Pixels – Public Domain
  57. RGBStock
  58. skitterphoto
  60. Stick Stock
  61. Stock Snap
  62. StockPhotos 4 Free
  63. Stocksy
  64. StockVault
  65. Stokpic
  66. Sunipix
  67. Super Famous Images
  68. Travel Coffee Book
  69. Turbo Photo
  70. Unprofound
  71. Unsplash
  72. Wikimedia Commons

Even more sites

  1. Heritage Library

Care to add to the list?

Got a favorite free stock image site that you think we should be adding to the site? Please let us know in the comments.
Photo: BigStockPhoto

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Avinash Kumar

    Great sources! I love your page with images to share online. and one of my best favorite is pixabay because here i got high definition pictures, and high image resolution

  2. Nick

    Great list of websites to find images. I thought you might be interested in a collection of images that I have taken over the years that I have recently released online. You can check out the full collection here: https://www.nicholasduell.com.au/free-photography/ all images are released under the Creative Commons license.

  3. Amos Struck

    Very Informative post. Thanks for sharing

  4. Jason Clay

    I would like to add Imageric.com (https://imageric.com) with thousands of free stock photos under Creative Commons Zero licence. Thanks a lot!

  5. Michael N. Marcus

    Thanks for the list. I often use the Library of Congress. The White House, NASA, state and local governments and military branches have plenty of pix, too.

    Many corporate websites have excellent free photos, but be sure to follow the rules for using and crediting photos. The Microsoft and Apple websites have fine free portraits of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs—but don’t put either photo on the cover of a book attacking Bill or Steve.

    Be aware that in many cases you can customize the images by cropping, reversing, changing color to monochrome, etc. to make them more appropriate for your project.

  6. Leslie Tall Manning

    Hey there! Thank you for this awesome list! I can’t wait to dig through these sites.

    I did notice that Getty Images charges for their photos. And I mean, CHARGE. Some photos at Getty are as high as $500 each. So a writer or designer definitely needs to be aware of this. Royalty-free does not necessarily mean FREE free.

    BTW, I have used Shutterstock for my recent photo needs, and I really like them. They have a live chat that is incredibly helpful, they offer price breaks for larger amounts of photos, and they will work with the buyer to tailor pricing if you do not fit into one of their established price categories.

    Rule of thumb for self-pubbed writers using Shutterstock: If you are planning to have one of their photos as your a book cover, and the book sells over 500,000 copies, you will need to pay a higher fee. So be aware of what your needs are from the beginning.

    • Shelley Sturgeon

      Hi Leslie,

      You’re correct about Getty Images being expensive, but they have an option to embed their images in your online content that is free.

      As for paid stock images, Shutterstock is a good site. We tend to use BigStockPhoto and find that they have a good selection and offer packages at reasonable cost.

      Hope you have fun going through the list and find some sites that you can use.


      • Rebecca Beck

        I know getty is not free and I don’t really understand what you said about the embed option? (I would be scared to start with them as I have heard they sue people who use their images without paying)

        • Shelley Sturgeon


          First of all, ANY stock image site that charges for their images could sue you if you use their images without paying or attributing the image to them as per their terms and conditions as it is content theft. Same thing as if someone helped themselves to a copy of your book.

          Usually when you put an image on your blog, you have to download, possibly resize that image, then upload it to your blog. If you’re using WordPress as many people are, you need to upload it to your media library then select that image in the media library from your blog post to have it appear in your post.

          When you embed an image, the image stays on the site of the owner, so, in this case Getty images. You have to hover over the image and click the embed icon, then copy and paste that code into your blog post something like when you add a YouTube video to your blog post.

          There are some advantages I suppose if you’re running out of storage space in your web host package, but my preference would not be to do this because, if at some point Getty images decides not to let you use that photo, they’ll just remove it from their site or change that code which will disable it from use on your site and you won’t see the image on your website anymore.

          Hope that helps.




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