Finding Free HD Images Online And How To Use Them
Why use free images?
Images have always been a big part of design, unfortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to crappy stock images of people in suits holding folders. Not only are a lot of these stock photos tacky, but if you're not finding free HD images they can cost a lot of money too!
Thankfully, there’s been a growing number of websites with beautiful stock images popping up all over the web. Best of all, many are free!
In this post, I'll list 10 websites I use for free stock photos. Not only that, but I'm also going to show you how to get the most out of your free images and some of the tools I use to get the job done quickly.
The Different types of Free
Quick note about licenses - All images and photos that are licensed under Creative Commons zero (CC0). CC0 is the "no copyright reserved" option in the Creative Commons toolkit - it effectively means relinquishing all copyright and similar rights that you hold in a work and dedicating those rights to the public domain.
You can copy, modify, distribute and even use the images for commercial purposes, all without asking permission based on your own countries laws.
CC 2.0 giving attribution — You need to give appropriate credit, and provide a link to the original piece, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
Finding free HD images with Google
Heading for the search engines is a option that we've all used when looking for free images. However not all of the images that google returns for a search term are completely free to use; some will have conditions attached.
The way to see what's free for you to use is to filter your results, which is a lot easier than it sounds.
The results that google spews will be completely free, and safe for you to use. That said, even though the images are free with no attribute needed, it's a good call to give props to the source of where you got images from... where appropriate.
Yet to be fair - a lot of the images google shows aren't the best quality anyway. That's why I suggest finding a few sites where you are able to search finding free HD Images and bookmark them.
First 5 sites for free stock images
It's great to have free HD images to work with, however it's not always necessary, some of these sites have great quality but they are not HD.
Watch out for the istock images that often appear at the top of the results within these sites, those are adverts for paid images.
As a final note, check usage rights on the image sites you use, as some will require a mention or link back to the original source.
In no particular order, easy to remember freeimages.com is the first in my bookmarks.
Here photographers upload images and allow them to be used freely. The images are fairly easy to search, mainly photo's but you can find some abstract art there too.
I wouldn't say it's a 'go-to' site but they do have some original unusual gems there.
Unsplash must surely earn a place in every roundup of free image sites. They really do have beautiful free high definition images. The photographs are easily searchable and are updated regularly. Unsplash.com are one of my top 3 sites for free images.
The beauty of using Unsplash is all their images are HD so are great for editing into something unique to you.
Another good place for finding free HD images is negativespace.co which have quickly carved a spot in the quality image marketplace.
They don't have the most extensive archive and they are totally littered with advertising, but that's a trade off. Just be very careful what you click on. Images on this site are CC0 to use as you like.
If you are looking for something different, StockSnap.io may be what you need. With hundreds of high resolution images added weekly free from copyright restrictions.
You can search by category, what's trending, newest and more. All photo's on the site are CC0.
The last in this mini list is lifeofpix.com by the Leeroy advertising agency in Montreal and its network of talented photographers, delivering high-resolution photos.
Something that you may find of interest if you are into video is it's sister site Life of Vids. Bookmark that site to get free video footage, clips, and loops, weekly. Like the images, the video content contains no copyright restrictions.
Best practice with free HD images
As good as the images are to use them as is - it's best practice to use original images as it not only allows you to rank your images and drive more free traffic, it also creates a better user experience, with no fear of them seeing the same image from other websites.
It's usually the customising or editing that often phases people out, but there's no need to worry, I'll show you how to edit your images easily with free tools.
Tools To Customise Images
There are plenty of free and cheap tools for editing images. here are a few that I use. All are very user friendly and browser driven.
Free Video Footage & FX sites
If you are creating images or sites you may well want to experiment with Gifs, cinemagraphs or even video. Below are a few sites I use for free stock footage I put through a similar manipulation process.
How to SEO your images and media
Once you have a basic understanding of keyword research, you'll have a few ideas of what you want to SEO (search engine optimize) the images for, to better help the post/page to rank.
The alt and title fields of an image, commonly referred to as alt tag or alt text and title tag even though they’re not technically tags. The alt text describes what’s on the image and the function of the image on the page. So if you have an image that’s used as a button to buy popcorn, the alt text would say: “button to buy popcorn”.
Use Alt Test always
Google seem to be putting more weight on the alt test when it comes to, not only ranking images highly, but also ranking your posts highly as well. Consider a search for the term ‘minimalist marketing’ and here is my friends site result.
The text minimalist-marketing, which I have highlighted, is actually not written anywhere on the page like that. Instead, it is the alt text for one of his images. WordPress applies alt text to images automatically, but they are generated based on the file name.
Therefore, if you save your images as “buyhalloweenpopcorn.jpg” or whatever your content is about, then WordPress will automatically generate that text.
The alt tag is a way to tell search engines what your images are actually about. Not only will it help you get more search traffic to your images, but I believe it helps the overall rankings of a page, as well.
The alt tag is used by screen readers, the browsers used by blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image. The title attribute is shown as a tooltip when you hover over the element, so in the case of an image button, the button could contain an extra call-to-action, like “Buy popcorn for $1.00!”
Each image should have an alt tag. Not just for SEO purposes but also because blind and visually impaired people otherwise won’t know what the image is for. A title is not required some say, but I believe a picture titled 'toffeepopcorn.jpg' is more useful in search, than one called '097tg5276.jpg' don't you think? - Especially when looking for images.
Second 5 sites for finding free HD images
The USP of this site is that it has 100 new high-quality photos added daily. That's why pexels.com holds its place in my free images bookmarks.
Pexels has user uploaded content guaranteeing you fresh and varied content to work with. Just be very careful what you click on. Images on this site are CC0 to use as you like.
Next and sounding like they maybe related is pixabay.com a community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos.
All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist - even for commercial purposes
No surprize shopify stores have such great images, the secret is burst.shopify.com a smart resource, even if you don't have a shopify store. Not the most extensive but worth a peek.
They have a "Business Ideas area” where the free photo collections and case studies are based around trending ecommerce niches, handy!
If the style of abstract photography is your thing, you're going to recognise the images from gratisography.com for sure. which have quickly carved a spot in the quality image marketplace. All pictures were photographed by Ryan McGuire and free of copyright restrictions.
Subscribe to be finding free HD Images first It's worth it, Ryan is a very talented artist.
If you need really fresh free HD images it's kaboompics.com you should turn too. You can search via colours, categories, and a good one is orientation.
Started by Karolina, Kaboompicks is a "one woman show" with a little help from her friends. The images can be used for anything you want.
Graphics Browser App
Now you have all the source tools you need to create great images. The only other apps for images I use are for creating Facebook covers and ads, business cards, loyalty cards, headers, ebook covers and more.
I could list plenty of apps to create the above mentioned, but for simplicity I have instantgrafx.com in my bookmarks. It is a $47 product but I certainly get my monies worth with this app... well worth the investment.
There you have it, 10 awesome places to get free high quality images to use for almost anything you like. How to customise the images to ensure they are unique to you.
Let me know if you found something you can use, and if I missed out your favourite source for finding free HD images do share what they are in the comments below.
Cheers for being here.