Where can I find photos for my website?

It’s often said that an image is worth a thousand words, and for many websites, this is a very valid point. Good attractive images can really make a website, especially if you are selling products, showcasing works of art or just want to make a good impression.  

If you have a good eye and a decent camera, you may be able to take some yourself of course, or you may wish to hire a photographer.  Beyond that, it’s time to look at the big wonderful world wide web:

Free Photos

You may be able to find free photos that meet your needs on places like Flickr, Wikimedia Commons or via a Google Image Search but take care not to break any copyright rules and check whether attribution is required or not. If your site is commercial, check that the images are allowed to be used on commercial sites. Ideally, you want to find photos that require no attribution and can be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Free stock photos

There are a number of sites that provide free stock photos. Some photos may require attribution to the photographer. The quality is often varied and how successful you are may depend on what you’re looking for. Many will also display tempting high quality images available through premium stock photo libraries (see below).

  • Pixabay – probably the best choice for free stock photos, and most photos are free to use or commercial sites without attribution.
  • Freeimages – free stock photos – a few good ones
  • rgbstock – free stock photos, some good ones
  • morgueFile – free stock photos
  • Freestockphotos – as it says

Free high quality photos but more niche

  • Pexels – high quality stock photos, best for land/city scapes but a mixture is on offer
  • Unsplash – high quality photos, again, good for nature, cityscapes, abstract
  • Bypeople – limited but growing range of good quality free photos
  • Gratisography – high quality and often quirky photos offered freely by artist Ryan McQuire

Premium Photos

There are a large number of sites that offer photos (and sometimes graphics, videos, and sounds too) for a price. Prices and pricing models vary considerably but here’s just a few of the places out there:

A Note on Creative Commons Licenses

Many free photos are available under a Creative Commons license which stipulates how the image may be used. A Creative Commons (CC) license is a copyright license that enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. A simple guide is available on Flickr

Image Sizes

A photo needs to be an appropriate size to display well on a website, and images that are too small will often not look too good. Conversely, you do not want images to be larger than necessary as large images can slow down a website and will cost more if you’re buying. When downloading free or paid-for photos, you will often have a choice of image size, so you just need to download an appropriate size. For your own photos, many modern cameras create very large images – in terms of pixels (px) – which will often need sizing down.

In early 2016, a typical laptop will have a screen resolution of 1366px (width) by 768px (height). In practical terms, this means you usually do not need a photo with a width of more than 1366px or height greater than 768px, and often a smaller size will suffice.  However, if an image is to be displayed fully on the screen, and to cater for some bigger screen sizes (often 1920px wide), a width of 1600px  should provide a good resolution across all screen sizes.

 If you provide me with images for your website, I can resize them appropriately (and compress them to make their file size smaller), or you can use a basic photo editor to resize them yourself. If you’ve not got the rather expensive Photoshop, there are plenty of free editors available such as Photoscape, Pixlr, or Picasa.