I have to admit that finding and securing images has to be the bane of all online marketers, regardless of whether it is for our Social Media assets, or whether it is simply to spice up our website articles.

Particularly with Social Media, expressing your brand online is becoming a much more visual imperative. The success of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are all testaments to this new age of online marketing.

There are, of course, a plethora of sources on the Internet. Some contain Royalty-Free images, meaning that you only have to pay a nominal fee once, upfront. You are not subject to paying the creator recurring fees for the privilege of maintaining use of such images. The owner still maintains Copyright, but merely allows you a license to use. While these images tend to cost, they tend to be of higher quality. As expected, the greater the resolution , the greater the cost. It is recommended to buy a subscription if you think you will need to regularly fill your image bag of tricks.

Other websites spruik ‘free’ images. But BEWARE ! As we all know, there’s usually no such thing as ‘free’. These images tend to have conditions attached to their use .

So here’s the lesson : Regardless of what images you decide to use, even if you have paid for it, remember to check for whether there are any specific conditions attached to their use. Such conditions may include:

1) Attribution – simply noting the image’s creator or link

2) Right to use : conditions relating to whether the image can be used commercially or can be modified

Then there can be challenges with regard to whether there are people in the image. Most notable royalty-free websites arrange for a model release form to be organised with the image originator before they are published for sale. But again, it is always best to double ( and triple ) check.

Here are some of the best sources of free images ( as of 30 November 2013 ), in no particular order :

Stock Vault


This website also encourages you to signup for a free account and hosts more than 42 thousand images for your enjoyment. It includes Textures as well as 3D renders to its portfolio, and even has a cool section on Tutorials that can help add that professional flavor to your visual effects.

Creative Commons Search


The Creative Commons Website should probably be your first point of reference in any search for free images. It includes searches from other great image repositories, such as Flickr.com , WikiMEdia Commons, FotoPedia and Pixabay , which could ultimately save you some valuable time.



Although boasting only around 400 thousand images, this site too is completely free. You are encouraged to sign up to a free account, and it is an excellent alternate reference site to help your image sourcing journey.

Microsoft Images


Yes, we know … the terms ‘Microsoft’ and ‘free’ don’t usually find themselves in the same context . But you should definitely check this resource out. Using Bing as a search engine, or even from within any of your Office applications, you can certainly find a good selection of free source images.



DreamsTime claims to have more than 19 million stock images available, which is not too shabby. These include Web Design elements, Illustrations, Clipart as well as paid Premium images.

Unrestricted Stock


Quite a large collection of images to choose from, in what seems to be quite interesting categories of Photography, Vectors, PSD files and even Hand Drawn creations.

Morgue File


Don’t let the morbid name deter you. This terrific resource is completely free. The term Morgue File is actually an industry term that refers to post production material stored for future reference. So the name is both stirring and appropriate. Just don’t tell anyone this is where you hang out for inspiration !

Deviant Art


You can join Deviant Art for free, and there is a very wide spectrum of image categories, from Traditional Art to Manga. Some of the most creative images you will find on the Internet.


Again, not to belabor a point … in case you may have missed this …. CHECK FOR LICENSING AND ATTRIBUTION CONDITIONS BEFORE USE ! Once you’ve got this right you should be fine.

And definitely make yourself a hot drink, and allow yourself some time to search, because it is very easy to get distracted with the many brilliant and inspiring images out there.