Few things can make your marketing materials, advertising or website stand out more than a well-chosen picture or image. The right image can be a real attention grabber and pull the focus of potential customers to what you have to offer. However, it’s not quite as simple as grabbing a good picture off of the internet, since many photographs are under copyright and using them without permission is illegal. A website offering free stock images may be a solution.
Three Types of Free-Use Images
Before proceeding to one of the dozens of websites offering free images, it’s important to know that stock photos come with different levels of cost and use.
Free stock photos come in three different varieties.
Public domain works are those in which the copyrights have expired, have been surrendered by the original artists, existed before copyright law existed or are not covered by copyright.
Royalty-free images are those where the buyer purchases the rights to use the photo but pays no further royalties after that. The royalty-free model is most often used in photography and is used by many of the free stock photo websites.
Creative Commons works have varying degrees of licensing rights that are chosen by the works’ creators. Some creative commons works are free to use, while others require attribution or some other permission when you use them. Educators and scientists often use creative commons in the hopes that others will build upon and improve their work.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Royalty-Free Images
Finding and using royalty-free images seems like an obvious choice. Websites such as Shutterstock and iStockPhoto are popular landing spots for individuals and businesses looking for images, but dozens of alternatives to these two sites exist that offer thousands of free stock images to use. There are benefits and drawbacks to using free images instead of paying to use copyrighted ones.
One of the primary benefits of using royalty-free images is the volume of choices. Even if you have a limited budget, you can often select from a variety of great images. If you’re just looking for a simple image to attach to a blog post, place in a marketing flyer or use to design a simple logo, a royalty-free stock image website may be an ideal choice.
However, while free stock image sites offer a significant number of options, they still don’t compare to the likes of Shutterstock. Pixabay, one of the larger royalty-free image websites, offers several hundred thousand free pictures. Shutterstock boasts over 100 million available images with 800,000 more uploaded on a weekly basis. Additionally, paid images are often of higher quality and taken by professionals.
Examples of Royalty-free Image Websites
The largest free stock image sites offer tens of thousands of images to choose from. Some of the largest include:
- Pickup Image