Writers don’t need pictures that speak 1000 words, we need pictures that draw attention to the words we have written. Finding great images to enhance our social media posts can be costly at stock photo sites and tricky to navigate attribution issues at free-image sites. To avoid cost and accidental infringement on photographer rights, I only use pictures from sites with photos licensed under Creative Commons CC0 – which means they can be used any way we want to use them without attribution.* Not only can they be used in the places we want to use them, but we can crop, alter, and add to as we see fit – which often makes for a more unique image.
Two of my favorite free stock photo sources are Pixabay and Unsplash. Pixabay is one of the most popular sites for good reason – you can find an image for almost anything you are looking for there. Not only is their selection huge, but new photos are added on a regular basis. Unsplash is my go-to for beautiful scenery. You might see some of the same pictures on both sites, but since Unsplash is smaller, I often find the perfect scenic shot there quicker than on the larger site.
While the popular free sites are great resources for writers, there are some lesser-known sites that are worth checking out. Here are five of them:
- Burst. This site, a resource from Shopify, was created to help entrepreneurs with their marketing and branding needs, so many of the photos contain products, such as shoes and computers, photographed in interesting ways. The “popular collections” option will take you right to relevant topics – such as coffee!
- Gratisography. Photographer Ryan McGuire of Bells Design offers his pictures for free. If you’re looking for something delightfully quirky, something with imagination, this is a site to check out!
- Negative Space. This site is easy to search and provides 20 new photos every week. There is a lot less choice here than at some of the more popular sites, but I like that most pictures do, indeed, have negative space – which allows the writer to nestle in a title, thought, quote, scripture or saying.
- Skitterphoto. Amateur photographers in The Netherlands launched this site in 2014 to share their photos. They enjoyed seeing their pictures used all over the world and turned it into a business where other photographers can also contribute their public domain photos to be used. Which means that we get the benefit of diverse photography subjects and styles to enhance our own work – free!
- Your camera. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to end up with some good pictures. Go ahead – scroll through those shots you have taken over the past year. I bet there is more than one that would make an interesting background for a quote or be the perfect illustration for a blog post. You can’t get more unique or free than that!
*While none of the sites listed require attribution, it’s always nice, and appreciated, to name the site and/or photographer when you have that information.