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How to Find Free Images That Won’t Ruin Your Own Image

Free images are sometimes not free from legal reprocussions

So what’s the big fuss over using free images on a website, blog or marketing material?

Free is good right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

How to Find and Use Free Images – Legally

The internet is a gold mine of fabulous free goodies – free images, free videos and free graphics.

What you might not have realized when you downloaded that seemingly free photo image from Google Images is that you may have put yourself and your business in some legal hot water!

You can, however, learn a few tips and tricks is to use free images from the internet in a smart, wise and more importantly, legal way.

What is Creative Commons?

Before you start using any free image from Creative Commons, just make sure you familiarize yourself with the proper license types.

Still confused about Creative Commons license types in regards to using free images?

Here, this might help.

[slideshare id=138804&doc=creative-commons-spectrum-of-rights-1192738788152957-2]

Where do the pro’s get their worry-free images?


1. Flickr Creative Commons

Free images come with licensing restrictions. Be sure to check before you use.

Touted as one of the best online photo management and sharing applications in the world, Flickr houses a treasure trove of images that you can use under their Creative Commons area.

  • Kristi Hines, a freelance writer, ghostwriter, professional blogger and social media enthusiast, says that when it comes to finding just the right photo, she turns to Flickr. “I use Creative Commons search on Flickr under their Advanced Search Options.”
  • When David Crandall isn’t posting his own work on Flickr, you can find him flexing his super powers over at his blog, Heroic Destiny where he uses Flickr’s Creative Commons.

2. Photo Pin

Harness to find free images on Flickr

If you’re in the business of blogging, Photo Pin makes the chore of finding fantabulous photos and images for your blog. 

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

3. Compfight

Free Images from Creative Commons at

Compfight is another image search engine tailored to find the perfect image for your design or writing project. Like Photo Pin, they also use the Flickr API.

When the uber creative Bombchelle Michelle Nickolaisen isn’t making incredibly boring sounding stuff incredibly NOT boring so that that you + your biz can reap the rewards, she’s checking out images using Compfight.

The same goes for Srinivas Rao. He uses the Compfight WordPress Plugin to hunt down just the right free image to use on the BlogcastFM blog.  Now that’s how you take the work out of free image research!

However, when you use your newly discovered bevy of free images do what’s right and give credit where credit is due.

Who couldn’t use some “link love” these days to drive traffic to their site?

The end result? You’re happy, they’re happy and fluttery hearts were just released across the world wide interwebz.

By Colleen Conger. Colleen is owner and lead pixel alchemist at Digital Photo and Design, LLC. She’s a self-confessed Starbucks addict, font freak and geeky tech girl. Connect with her personally on Facebook and Google+. You can also follow Digital Photo and Design on FacebookGoogle+, PinterestYouTube and Dribbble.

  • love the namedrops you’ve placed with bloggers/biz peeps I like, including Tea! Great resource!

    • Hey Janet! I usually don’t namedrop, but in this case, they are bloggers I follow and value for opinions – especially on free images (and keeping things legal.)

  • So much great info to process here, Colleen, not to mention your top notch research for you PK assignment. I’ll have to spend some extra time delving into all of these. Thanks for sharing!

    • Creative Commons is such an incredible tool to find free images. I had no idea that Flicr from Yahoo had a separate Creative Commons area. Wow! There’s millions of photos on the internet taken by people who are super willing to share their work. I just wanted to draw attention to the right way to “share the love.”

  • Mark C.

    Awesome resource! I’m bookmarking this article.

    • Good to see you Mark! While not an all inclusive list of where you can find ALL the free images on Creative Commons, it’s a good start and a great addition to your bookmark.

  • Hi Colleen,

    Thank you for your very interesting post. I am sure it will be helpful to many. With so many images out there, having a selection of tools that you know you can go to to help with your search, is so important.

    As someone who makes botanical greeting cards, I use a lot of my own images, but for illustrating points in blog posts for example, it’s great to have the assurance of other places I can go to.

    • Glad you received some value from my post Anita. Like you, I create a large variety of products from stock images. However, because I resell it as part of my business, I felt it necessary to use paid services such as iPhoto, BigStock, and 123rf.

      After doing research for this post, however, I realize there is a whole host of free images on the internet that I can draw upon.

      Have you thought about putting some of your images online for others to use? It seems like a perfect fit for some “link love.”

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  • Thank you so much for this information. Very valuable.

    • Jacqueline,

      You are more than welcome. I’m super glad you had a chance to stop by.

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