Making sure that you have the perfect image to compliment your latest blog piece or to bring your site to life is key. It is said that the brain processes images some 60,000 times faster than text and with user attention spans shorter than ever, it is vital to make a compelling first impression.
The good news is there is an ever increasing number of sites that offer stunning images covering a multitude of styles and topics available for you to download for free, many of which were started with the designer community in mind in response to the frustration at the lack of quality images available online.
I have listed 8 of the best websites below with some sample images downloaded from the sites.
Public Domain Archive
Public Domain Archive acts as an online image store offering free, high definition images gathered from across the web. Easily searchable, the site is easy to use with a large range of visuals.
Made for designers by designers, SplitShire aims to be an online image sharing resource. It offers a wide range of photos available for personal and commercial use sorted neatly into categories.
picjumbo sorts photos by category with a filter function that makes it easy to find what you are looking for. All photos are free, but you will need to reference the creator.
(Highway at Night by Viktor Hanacek)
Unsplash provides copyright free images for download, some of which are absolutely stunning with a healthy flow of new images keeping you coming back for more.
Gratisography has an interesting selection of high quality photos which are completely free to use. There is a bit of a strange and eccentric feel here so if that is your thing, head here.
This site is an image search engine that utlises the Flickr API to make a wide ranges of images available for download. (*)
Creative Commons acts as a search tool that allows you to search the image databases of several other free image sites including Flickr, Google Images and Wikimedia Commons. (*)
IM Creator offers a range of images easily searchable by style and topic. As well as the free stock images, there is also a wide range of other design resources available (buttons, icons, templates etc.)
The photos included above are free from copyright restrictions or covered by creative commons public domain dedication. This is also the case for the majority of the photos on the sites above. This means that you can download, edit, upload and use these images for commercial/personal use without any problems. It may be the case that some images require accreditation to the creator and it is for this reason that it is always worthwhile to check the small print for each image.
If you can think of any more sites that offer free imagery. Please feel free to contribute in the comments section.