Top 8 Royalty Free Image Download Sites

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It can sometimes be a challenge to find the right image to use in an article you are writing.  Searching Google will often turn up a number of great images, but using some of them can land you in hot water – I’m talking about fines of 1000s of dollars for using a photo that is copyrighted.

There are paid stock photo websites you can buy images from, like iStockPhoto, but they are often very expensive.  My personal favourite paid stock photo site is called PhotoDune, and images there start at just $1 each for a good sized image (good enough for a blog post).

But what if you want free images?

I’ve put together a list of my favourite 8 royalty free image download sites, and recorded a video to show you the types of images each one offers.  One of my criteria for these sites is that they must be searchable.  There are a lot of photo sites that offer free for commercial use images, but you cannot search their database.  That makes it very difficult to find an appropriate image.

Royalty-free images sites

  1. Pixabay
  2. UnrestrictedStock
  3. SplitShire
  4. LifeofPix
  5. PicJumbo
  6. UnSplash
  7. FreeRangeStock
  8. Google Images

My Favourite Paid Image site

  1. PhotoDune – Starting at just $1 per image.  If I am stuck and cannot find an image on a free site, then Photodune is my go to place for finding those elusive images that I am 100% sure are royalty-free.
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6 thoughts on “Top 8 Royalty Free Image Download Sites”

  1. Superb images Andy from sites I had not heard of!

    The wee thing bothered me in that you seemed to be confusing “Free Images” which we all want with “Royalty Free” images which is entirely different.

    Of course “Free” means no charge but “Royalty Free” means…
    ” the royalty free license which allows unlimited usage from a single payment” so “Royalty Free” can mean that the images cost $100 each but you just don’t pay any royalties.

    I am ultra cautious about images after someone I knew getting sued by Getty. He had a license but the image had been stolen from Getty along with a bogus rights document. Ugh!

    1. You are quite right Alex about me mixing these. These sites should be free and royalty-free images, but do check the sites as things can change. That friend sounds like a nightmare scenario.

    2. Hi Alex, where did your acquaintance get that image which was stolen from Getty? I wonder what the chances are of something like this happening to us if we get our images from a reputable site.

  2. Hi Andy

    Thanks for the list of sites offering royalty free images.

    I’ve been using pixabay for quite a while and have found some great pictures, illustrations and vector images. Will take a look at your other accommodations.

    Many thanks

  3. Great list, Andy. I use Pixabay regularly but I didn’t know about some of the others. About Google Images, they show images that are clearly copyrighted, example I randomly searched for Amalfi Coast Italy. All images are linked to other websites, i.e. travel, real estate sites etc. and who knows who has the rights to them. One image showed a copyright by Alamy, so they may be royalty free if you find the original source, but they would not be free to use. Not sure why Google Images is included in this list. Bummer, because some of these images are spectacular.

    1. Google images is included because it is a resource, but I wanted to point out the potential problems of using images from there.

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