We all know visual content works best in social – in fact a social media post with a picture is worth 120% more engagement than a post without.

But where on earth do you find these pictures? Take them yourself? Pay? Nicking them off Google is no longer an option with the threat of heavy fines and prosecution for unauthorised use of copyrighted images… And unless you’re particularly well funded, or a spectacularly talented amateur photographer, the other two probably aren’t viable options either.

Don’t despair! There is another way!

Awesome firework photo

Incredible firework photo sourced via Wikimedia Commons (for free!) (c) Billy Hicks “Firework photomontage”  Photo. Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The Creative Commons copyright licenses have introduced another option to the traditional “all rights reserved” setting which copyright law defaults to.

There are six main Creative Commons licenses:

  • Attribution (by) – allows others to distribute, alter and build upon work, even commercially, as long as the original creator is credited
  • Attribution Share Alike (by-sa) – allows others to distribute, alter and build upon work, even commercially, as long as they credit the original creator and license new creations under identical terms
  • Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd) – this license allows for credited redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as the original work remains unchanged
  • Attribution Non-commercial (by-nc) – others may alter and build upon work as long as the new works credit the original work and are used for non-commercial purposes
  • Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) – similar to the Attribution Share Alike license, users may alter and distribute work as long as it is acknowledged and shared under identical terms – however, under this license work may not be used commercially
  • Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) – work may be distributed but that is all. This is the most restrictive of the six main licenses.

So where, you ask, can you find these images copyrighted under a Creative Commons (or similar*) license? And with that I leave you with a list of 24 places to find free images:

1)      Flickr.com/ creative commons

2)      Creative Commons

3)      Wikimedia Commons

4)      Foter

5)      CopyrightFreePhotos.com

6)      Gimp-Savvy.com

7)      Iconspedia

8)      Everystockphoto.com

9)      Openphoto

10)   The OpenPhoto project

11)   Unprofound.com

12)   Pixel perfect digital

13)   Freestockphotos.com

14)   Freerange Stock

15)   MorgueFile

16)   Freedigitalphotos.net

17)   Bigfoto.com

18)   FreeMediaGoo.com

19)   Pixabay

20)    Openclipart

21)   Creativity103.com

22)   iStockPhoto

23)   PicDrome

24)    Hongkiat

*Be aware of varying licenses and differing sites terms of use

Thanks to Sarah Sharkey for helping compile this list.

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