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Free Stock Photos

Free Stock Photos

As you might have seen via The Verge, the NY Public Library just made a ton of photos available for free, like this page from Whitman’s notebooks:


Or this 1930s era artwork from the WPA:


There is, no doubt, a ton to explore, and everything is available to use without restriction. And while you’re probably already familiar with “The Commons,” the images available (sometimes with restrictions) at Flickr’s Creative Commons pages, I thought I’d add a few more noteworthy places to get free images.

Stock photos aren’t right for everyone or every project

… but if you’re not a photographer and don’t have the budget to hire one, sometimes they can be just the solution you need. For lots of good reasons—like the ubiquity of certain images, or copyright infringement, or poor quality—the days of pilfering art from Google Image Search are over. What I find most interesting, and heartening in a way, is that many of the photographers who provide these images don’t even want to be credited. I like a creative economy that wants to help everyone improve their skill, knowing that, as they say in New England, a rising tide lifts all boats.

More free photo resources

Pixabay – I first heard of Pixabay when I started using ImageInject here at Real Pants, which is one of my favorite WordPress plugins, ever. It lets authors search for an image right from the Add Posts screen and inserts them into your media library, automatically adding whatever attribution the creator asks for. Quick and efficient.

Unsplash – Uses the Creative Commons Zero license. And here are some absolutely beautiful photos from great photographers. Lots of nature photos. Even if I’m not looking for something to use for a project, sometimes I enjoy just scrolling through these images. They add 10 new images every 10 days. Unsplash also actively tags images (which you can help with), so you can search easily. Here’s a pic that Jeannie Hoag could use in “Advice from Space“:

Space – This is a Tumblr site with infinite scroll. A nice place to get lost.

Public Domain Archive – A good name is what it sounds like. Nice and scrollable. Tons of ads.

New Old Stock Photos – These are mostly vintage photos. I get the feeling that they were culled from The Commons at Flickr, another site where, if you’re lucky, you can stumble on a diamond in the rough. New Old Stock finds them for you.

Travelcoffeebook – This works similar to Unsplash, and features a lot of travel-related photos.

Here are some more that I haven’t looked at before. Hat tip to this YouTube video and this Medium post for the links.

Adam Robinson
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About The Author

Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson lives in Atlanta and runs Publishing Genius Press. He is the author of two poetry collections, Adam Robison and Other Poems and Say Poem.

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