Anyone who runs a blog or website wants to embellish their site with high-quality images. But it's not always possible to take these pictures yourself or you don't have a huge budget.
In this case, we recommend that you use free images. Be careful not to get into trouble with copyright! To avoid this, there are providers of license-free images for free use.
However, there are also potential conflicts with these providers. Copyright infringements are one of the biggest problems for authors and website operators. So that you can definitely find the right royalty-free images, we explain here where you can find the right images safely and without hassle. best free pictures find.
Images and copyright - a big trap
Before we show you the best platforms for free images, you should know why you should use free images in the first place.
Copying an image from Google and uploading it to your own website can be expensive. If you suddenly receive a letter from a lawyer, it's already too late. Because the law shows no mercy when it comes to copyright.
All photos on the Internet are protected by copyright under Section 72 (1). The quality of the images does not play a role in copyright law. Even a blurred and pixelated image is just as protected as a high-quality image.
This means that you cannot use images of other people without permission. Photographs, photographic works and graphics are protected, regardless of whether you use the images for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you violate copyright law, you will face high fines.
If you want to use a protected image, you need written permission as proof. In this document, you should specify where, for what purpose and for how long you want to use the image. Ideally, you should also name the author, even if this is not mandatory.
Alternatively, you can also buy an image. Stock photo agencies or providers offer paid images with a license agreement, which can be very extensive.
There are also royalty free free imagesthat are offered for free use by the author. You may download these images from the platforms and use them freely. But here, too, you should always read the license agreement. Some restrict the time of use or specify the purposes for which they may not be used.
These free images are usually so-called stock photos. The advantage of these is that they are often of very high quality and can therefore be used well for professional websites.
Not all free images are created equal. Some are subject to stricter regulations, others are very free to use. You need to know which license you are using.
Important: In Germany, copyright cannot be transferred. Only rights of use are transferred.
- CC0 license: With this license, the author waives all rights to the work. With a CC0 license, you can freely copy, use and distribute the work. You do not need direct permission, so the CC0 license is a very good choice.
- Creative Common License: Creative Common organizations want to enable the exchange and use of creative tools. Here, authors can share their works with others.
If you want to find out whether the free image is protected, you can read the license agreement or search for the license information using Google search.
It is impossible to imagine a lively and appealing website without images. However, you may not use every image.
There are many pitfalls when it comes to copyright. To use protected images, you must either obtain written permission from the copyright holder or officially purchase the image.
If you don't want to do this, you can use license-free, free images. These images are made available by the author on corresponding platforms.
Please note that copyright cannot be sold in Germany. With licenses, you only acquire the right of use.
Even with free images, there are license agreements in which the use is regulated. For this reason, you must read the license agreement carefully before using the image.
There are two types of licenses. The CC0 license means that the author waives the rights. The Creative Commons license is about the creative exchange between the authors.
So you need to pay attention to these important points:
- Are the images royalty-free?
- Are they suitable for commercial use?
- Is there a license agreement?
- Is the quality right?
- Does the author have to be named?
Free pictures - The best platforms
With Unsplash you'll find lots of free images that are also very high quality. A clear categorization and clean sorting of the images at Unsplash ensure that you can easily find your free stock photos. Unsplash saves you time and money.
With Pexels you can get lots of CC0 images (copyright holder waives his rights). Pexels not only suggests categories that match current trends, but also suggests photo collections from other Pexel users that match your search term. If you are looking for several free images on one topic, this approach is extremely useful for you.
On Negative Space there are hand-picked free images that are updated from week to week. Here you will find truly unique images that are not available on other stock photo platforms.
Pixabay is one of the largest and best-known platforms for free images. However, you must pay close attention to the license terms here. Although the Pixabay license allows commercial and non-commercial use, the images are subject to certain regulations, which may differ from image to image.
Piqs doesn't necessarily look like a website for free pictures at first glance. This is certainly also due to the fact that, in addition to the images, Piqs also has a large community for tips, tricks and experience reports. The images provided are license-free, free of charge and suitable for commercial use.
You won't find any ordinary pictures here. The photos at Gratisography are artistic, unique and special, so you can find free images for unusual projects here. You can use the search function to search by category and sort by theme.
On Picjumbo you find pictures of the artist Viktor Hanascek. You can download all images for free, but as a Premium member you will receive 50 high-quality images per month. In addition, the artist usually works without facial images and you can also use the images commercially.
Picjumbo's paid membership (from 11$ per month) gives you access to even more high-quality images. It's well worth a look.
The page kaboompics belongs to photographer Karolina Grabowska, on which she offers her own pictures. Karolina impresses customers worldwide with her minimalist, clean and very aesthetic style in pictures.
In addition to the standard images, you will find shots for Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. You will therefore find what you are looking for on the site if you are looking for special images for unusual projects.
Photographer Daniel Nanescu provides free images on his website Splitshire. In addition to unusual and exciting stock photos, you will also find stock videos. This sets the website apart from other providers, as stock videos are not often found. You can use these as a little extra on your site. The mockups are particularly interesting for web designers.
Freerange stock photos
The provider freerange offers you pictures from various photographers and artists. You filter the images by theme. You can use the images without copyright and do not need to register to download the images. However, you need to pay attention to the CC0 licenses, as not all images are CC0 licensed.
ImageFinder stands out from the other ten providers listed! ImageFinder searches other databases for free and license-free images. This means that no artists' own images are uploaded here, but according to the website operator, you will find around 282,000 free images. There are therefore no limits to the styles you can choose from. The quality is high, because this is the main focus at ImageFinder.
Our "free pictures" conclusion
The selection of stock photos is now gigantic and is constantly growing. Stock photos are images from photographers, artists or agencies that offer licenses for commercial use.
Stock photos are often used for websites, social media or advertising because they are generally of very high quality. Whether on your own Instagram account, company website or flyer, everyone needs high-quality images.
You now have three options for obtaining high-quality images: An elaborate photo shoot, paid stock photos or royalty-free free images. (By the way: Large bloggers, developers, brands, web designers and design agencies also use free images. Because the quality doesn't have to be worse!)
However, not all free images are released for all purposes. When choosing images, you need to consider the different licenses. There are licenses for commercial and non-commercial use. A distinction is made between CC0 licenses and Creative Commons licenses.
You should pay close attention to copyright law. Copyright infringements are punishable by high fines. Even if you did not know that the image is protected, it does not protect you from a fine.
To be on the safe side, you can either ask the artist personally for the right of use. This is best done in writing so that you can prove that you have the right to use the image in case of doubt.
Platforms for free images save you this work. The artists upload the images directly and offer you the images for download. Here, too, you must read the license agreement beforehand.
If you pay attention to all these points, not much can go wrong.