stock photography

A guide to the best free sites for cc0 art and stock photography

I recently wrote a guide for my library's blog on the best sites for high quality, free, and public domain images. I've recreated part of it below.

These sites are hugely useful for marketing purposes, as you can use them in websites, posters, slides, on social media (but NOT insta! That needs your own photos on...) and so on, completely legally and without shelling out any cash.

The sites listed below contain images which have been made Creative Commons Zero (also known as CCO) by their creators, are available to use by anyone, however they like. The images are in the Public Domain and can be reproduced, incorporated into other works, modified, and reused, without needing permission and in most cases without even needing to credit the author.

Free to use stock photography

Pexels

Pexels is the CC0 site I go to first when creating slides or websites. It's good on technology particularly, but covers loads of areas well, with stock photography that is far above the average stock shots. It has tens of thousands of pictures, including the ability to search by colour, and also has a sister site dedicated to CC0 video.

A selection of images found using pexels.com's colour browsing facility

A selection of images found using pexels.com's colour browsing facility

Stocksnap

Once you start using CC0 image sites you get used to seeing the same stock photography appearing on many of them (it comes with the territory, as the fact that the copyright has no restrictions means any site can pick them up and use them - you could start an image bank right now using CC0 images if you wanted to), but Stocksnap seems to have a few more pictures which are unique to it. Thanks to Hilary and Luke who showed me this at the PPRG conference. Here's the 'recently added images' from today:

The most recent additons to StockSnap.io

The most recent additons to StockSnap.io

nappy.co

Nappy describes itself as “Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people. For free” and this is a rare thing: stock photography is often VERY white. Thank you to @AgentK23 for giving me the heads-up about this site.

Photos from the ‘Work’ category of nappy.co

Photos from the ‘Work’ category of nappy.co

finda.photo

finda.photo (that's the actual URL as well as the name) searches through lots of other CC0 sites in one go, including the excellent UnSplash. As well searching by keyword you can browse by colour, collection, or original source.

Images from the 'Glare' category of finda.photo

Images from the 'Glare' category of finda.photo

Interestingly after I tweeted this, Unsplash got in touch with a reply, and pointed out that finda.photo only searches a relatively small percentage of their photos:

I had no idea this was the case! So, worth going direct to Unsplash.com too.

Gratisography

For some pictures that are about as far away from tired stock photography cliches as it is possible to get, head over to Gratisography. Quirky, odd images, of extremely high resolution and quality, free to use in any way you see fit. There's really nothing quite like it.

Gratisography. Not your average stock photography site

Gratisography. Not your average stock photography site

RawPixel

A new site for me is RawPixel. They got in touch after reading an earlier version of this guide and I'm happy to include them - if you work in design this site must be a godsend. There's a real variety here, not just in terms of the images but the way they're grouped and organised - check out the Boards section to see what I mean. Just for this image alone I will be using their site again - images of teaching seem to be almost impossible to find!

Finally a decent image of 'teaching' happening! And they've ever-so-helpfully left a lovely big copyspace on the board for you to write in whatever you like...

Finally a decent image of 'teaching' happening! And they've ever-so-helpfully left a lovely big copyspace on the board for you to write in whatever you like...

UKBlackTech

These aren't cc0 - they're Creative Commons Attribution - but I wanted to include them because they're a set of tech-focussed images focusing on BAME protagonists. It's great that UKBlackTech have made these available for free.

Download these images at ukblacktech.com

Download these images at ukblacktech.com

Free to use art and artwork imagery

An absolute ruddy masterpiece, from 1565, available to you, reader, to do with as you please, thanks to The Met

An absolute ruddy masterpiece, from 1565, available to you, reader, to do with as you please, thanks to The Met

  • New York Met

    375,000 images of artworks from The Met's collection to use, share, and remix without restriction. And it's the New York Met, so they have some of the most famous paintings in the world, like Bruegel's The Harvestors from 1565. 

  • Walters Art Museum

    Because the Walters owns or has jurisdiction over the objects in its collection and owns or customarily obtains the rights to any imaging of its collection objects, it has adopted the Creative Commons Zero: No Rights Reserved or CC0 license to waive copyright and allow for unrestricted use of digital images and metadata by any person, for any purpose.

  • Riks Museum Amsterdam

    The Dutch Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam has opened its collection to the public with the majority of its photographed artwork being released under a CC0+ license that requires attribution. You must create a free account in order to download.

  • Getty Museum

    Thousands of images of artworks are available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program. Look for the Download button under the image.

  • Yale Center for British Art

    The Center provides free and open access to images of works in the public domain and certain other materials, and hopes to encourage further the use and reuse of its public domain resources by all who may have access to them.

  • Europeana Collections

    Europeana provides an extraordinary 8 million images which are completely free to re-use, covering the areas of Art, Fashion, Maps & Geography, Migration, Natural History, Music and others.


If you have any more suggestions for great CC0 sites, let me know with a comment below and we'll add them to the list.

Two great new sources of free-to-use stock photos

 

I got sent this guide to image sources, and it contained links to a couple of image sources I wasn't familiar with. They're both a little different to the sites I normally recommend, and I think they'll be very useful. I use stock images a lot, mostly in presentations but also in tweets, blogposts, other parts of this site, graphics and posters etc.

The downside with these particular sites, for me, is that it's hard to search them - they're both blogs rather than depository style sites like FreeImages.com. But actually this presents images, added on an on-going basis, in a new way (to me) which is potentially quite helpful.

The upsides are firstly you can do anything you like with them and you don't even have to attribute. The second updside is the standard of photography - and I've been looking for a free-to-use source vintage images for ages, and finally I've found one. Let's look at that one first.

New Old Stock

New Old Stock curates vintage photos 'free of known copyright restrictions' - this means you can use them for whatever purpose you like, however you want. Hey look, here's a library example!

METU Library, via New Old Stock

METU Library, via New Old Stock

Some of the pics go WAY back, like this Egyptian example:

There's a huge amount to explore on New Old Stock, mostly B&W or sepia but with some early colour too, and if you're on Tumblr you can subscribe to get notified whenever they post more.

Unsplash

Unsplash adds 10 new images a day (you can subscribe to keep updated) and again, it has a 'do anything' licence. Specifically the site says:

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
— unsplash.com/license

... which is good to know!

There are real advantages to not having to attribute. Although I'll always do so in a presentation, when you're tweeting in image or designing a poster or web materials, it's nice not to have to take up space with a URL and author name. It's also important to be able to modify the images in any way you please - on Flickr, for example, the majority of the Creative Commons images aren't set to allow this, meaning you can't use them in presentations or posters, or indeed do anything expect display them as they are.

The images on Unsplash are just a cut above most free image sites - for example I've used pictures of both coffee and bridges in presentations before, but never as nice as these examples...

The header image for this post is also from Unsplash.

So take a look and see if these images will be useful either for you or your library comms.

A new and unlikely source of free stock photos!

 

There's a movie out called Unfinished Business. It stars Vince Vaughn. And as part of the publicity for it, the filmmakers have teamed up with Getty (who run iStock Photo) to make some stock photography freely available for editorial (i.e. non-commercial) use. This is a really nice idea!

It's a good bit of marketing (although as I say in my workshops, the vast majority of marketing doesn't work directly; I'm just as unlikely to go see the film as I was before...) and the photos themselves are great. I can imagine them being quite effective in information literacy sessions...

My favourite one is this:

If you want to get hold of these, you need to do so quickly - it's a limited time promotion. The first 4 pictures are available direct from Getty here; apparently the next 8 will be released in two weekly batches soon, via this page. Or you can look at all of them here on Adweek.

These are great because they capture the utter ludicrousness of most stock photography, and then amp it up further by having people look in the wrong direction. In the original of the one above (which was done in photoshop) the guy is looking at the camera - that at least makes a kind of sense - but in the Vaughn version he looks like he has no idea he's in a photoshoot.

Similarly in this one...

... the fact he's looking away just reminds you how barmy the whole conceit is, with the other actors looking at a (presumably blank) screen and grinning out how damn productive they all are, as the camera just happens upon this real-life office moment.

So can someone weave these into a library related presentation or teaching session? I'm going to try to for my Film & TV students, but I'd love to see examples from others too - leave me a link in a comment.