Graphics play a huge role in the online world. In this article, you will learn about the best free image banks where you can find materials to use any way you want.
Everything is online today: people-to-people contacts, events, discussions, advertisements. An inseparable element of all these are photos, which are necessary when dealing with computer graphics.
This is where photo banks come in, allowing you to download free photos.
Wondering where to find free photos and how to use visual resources available on the internet without violating copyright? Do you need photos for your website or blog?
When downloading graphics from Google or another search engine, you risk being accused of illegal use of the content, which may have serious consequences.
You should know how to download graphic materials without worrying about their license, penalties resulting from infringement of copyright and without spending money on them.
Finding a free image bank on the internet from where you can download graphics is easy.
It is important to know under what license the free stocks are released and that you will not breach the copyright if you use it to create materials for your own blog, website or social media account (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
A few words on graphic licenses
Most mistakes result from ignorance, and ignorance of the law is harmful.
This is also the case with the license. If you are unfamiliar with it and you have illegally downloaded a photo from the internet that does not belong to you, you can get penalized for doing so.
Do not count on that you get off with use of somebody else’s photos in different places online and offline. If you think so, you are wrong. Here it is stealing the photo for which you do not have the copyright.
Think about it: someone who took it had to have an idea and professional equipment and devote a lot of time to do so. If they would give permission to anyone to download and use their photo, they would not put it on website, but in free image banks.
A professional employee in the computer graphics industry or the employer himself should know the rules of publishing someone else’s photos and never hide his lack of knowledge of copyright infringement.
Before you start worrying about what is allowed and what is permitted when it comes to downloaded graphics, you need to know what image copyright is.
Web copyright and CC license types
You should know what the terms of sharing are and using copyrighted works, which are governed by the creative commons license.
There are seven CC licenses:
1. CC BY – recognition of authorship – this license allows you to freely copy, distribute and modify the copyrighted work, requires the name of the first work and the source from which it is derived.
2. CC BY-SA – recognition of authorship – under the same conditions – under this license you have the right to freely copy, distribute, modify and develop the work, but on the condition that it is later made available under the specifically same license.
3. CC BY-NC – non-commercial use – due to this license you can freely use, copy and distribute the work, but only for non-commercial purposes.
4. CC BY-ND – recognition of authorship without derivative works – under this license you do not have the right to change, transform or create new things. You can only use the work in its unaltered shape.
5. CC BY-NC-ND – non-commercial use without derivative works – thanks to this license you have the right to download a work and share it with others if you confirm the authorship. You may not change it or use it for commercial purposes.
6. CC BY-NC-SA – attribution and non-commercial use under the same conditions – this license allows you to make changes to a work and create new things based on it. You can do it only for non-commercial purposes and only if you acknowledge the authorship and give it a derivative work license with the same conditions.
7. CC0 – Release to Public Domain – this type of license allows you to waive copyrights. It means that the author has transferred the work to the public domain, and thus renounces the exercise of any rights to the work under copyright law – importantly – all over the world. With this license you have the right to change or distribute the work even for commercial purposes.
Free photo databases on the internet provide us with their resources mainly based on the CC0 license. Photos without copyright are a great base for creating graphics’ visualizations that can be published online (websites, social media, blogs and others). You can safely and cost-free use such graphics.
Websites may update and change their regulations and rules for downloading photos. You should always check and keep in mind a type of license, which usually appears next to the selected graphic.
What are the differences between free and paid image banks?
1. PRICE –free image banks are not necessarily aimed at commercial sale of a product. You can find among them mainly photos of landscapes, food and other objects or nature. They very rarely present humans because professional models must have signed permits for the use of the image and get paid for posing for a photo session.
2. REPEATIVENESS / UNIQUENESS – while searching the free photos database you have to take into account the risk that probably someone on the Internet will use or even already used the same graphics as you chose.
On the other hand, if you buy data with an exclusive license, you can be sure that you will not see it anywhere else.
3. PROPER / IMPROPER CLASSIFICATION – free photo databases may be less categorized than the paid ones and it will be much harder to find the graphics you are looking for.
4. LANGUAGE – one of the disadvantages of free photo banks is the fact that they are run by foreign portals. Fortunately, nowadays most browsers offer automatic translation of full pages.
Check out the undermentioned list of 12 best free photo banks where you can find everything you need without spending a penny. Beautiful high-quality graphics and free downloadable photos enable you to improve all the artwork you create.
12 Free Online Photo Banks
Freepik, based in Malaga (Spain), was founded in 2010. The goal was to create a platform for designers to find free graphic resources.
Here you will discover a lot of pretty, carefully selected photos, vector graphics, .PSD files, icons, mockups, presentation templates and other resources in a very good quality. The site stands out with a well categorization of materials, which is why I put it in the first place.
It offers the ability to filter photos, including by format, spatial orientation or color. With a Freepik account you can tag graphics that attract your attention by clicking on the heart icon.
This way you save them to the favorites tab, which will make it much easier to find and select the best photos.
Vectors and .PSD files are very useful for creating banners, flyers, brochures and posters. This image bank even offers these files for free.
This is a great help for anyone who wants to create great works at a low cost. What is more, we can use a very useful filter called ‘People’ if we want or not to include people in our graphic.
The orientation of the graphics is also very important. We can choose from four categories: Horizontal, Vertical, Square and Panorama. The first one includes mainly graphics and photos that you can use for creating banners for websites in the computer view, and the vertical orientation works well for mobile banners or Instagram stories.
The square shape, in turn, is most often used in social media, like in graphics posted on Instagram profiles. If we think about the panorama, we are dealing with a wide view that can be used in graphics relating to architecture, infrastructure or business.
Here are some examples of graphics found on Freepik with the possibility of using it in social media.
Additionally, a good solution to facilitate searching is a color filter.
Unfortunately, one can only select one at a time, which still reflects the usefulness of this tool. How does it work in practice? To illustrate this function, let’s take green as an example.
The effect that you will be able to achieve by using this filter is wonderful. This extends the possibilities of finding the perfect graphics, which you can later adapt to your blog, website or other projects.
You can use all the resources available on the portal in any way you want. After selecting the filters you are interested in and entering the desired phrase in the search engine, the results will be amazing.
It is also worth noting that the Freepik Company constantly invests in development and creates two additional projects: Slidesgo and Flaticon.
It offers an extensive catalogue of Google Slides and PowerPoint. The free templates you can get here will improve each of your presentations. In addition, you will find a search engine and filters for choosing the color and style you are interested in.
It has a database of free icons in all formats that you can use to create all kinds of designs.
It is the world’s largest database of free icons that you can use in your presentations, applications, websites, infographics and catalogues.
On this free international website, you can find a great variety of photos, illustrations, vectors, videos and music.
It contains over 2.2 million photos and videos. An unquestionable advantage is the fact that Pixabay often host photos from other banks, which will save your time and shorten the research.
Pixabay is a creative community that distributes copyright-free images. The content of the site is released under the Pixabay license and allows you to use it even for commercial purposes, without attributing authorship.
The platform does not have an initial categorization, which means you must search for everything through the search engine. You can only choose from the file forms divided into tabs in the upper visible bar, which are Photos, Illustrations, Vectors, Videos and Music.
For example, enter the word ‘fashion’ in the search engine and choose the target form – Photos. Only now is it clear that we have a choice of additional filters. It looks like as follows:
This is exactly how you can apply filters when searching for free photos on Pixabay:
First, we can use photo search according to novelty and popularity criteria. We can choose from: newest, upcoming, popular and selected by the editorial staff. The next tab is the file form and the third filter relates to the orientation – horizontal, vertical or any other orientation.
When it comes to categories, there are quite a few. We can also choose thematic areas such as Education, Food / Drinks, Business / Finance or Sport.
You will find an additional filter here, which is the size of the photo (in pixels). It is a very useful function if you need photos for printing, because high definition is a particularly important element.
The color filter deserves special praise. Unlike Freepik, we can choose more than one color here.
Consequently, if you have several main colors in your project, blog or website, you will successfully find what you are looking for using this option.
Under the colors tab, you can also choose the ‘transparency’ and ‘black and white’ options, which certainly make your search easier.
Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing stock photos under the CC0 free license. It contains over 2 million photos.
Photos and graphics on this platform were previously approved by professionals, and thus only the best resources were included in the offer. No matter what you are looking for, you surely find it on Unsplash.
In the Current Events tab, you will find materials related to the latest events from around the world. This category is extremely useful if you run an information portal or deal with journalism. Free Unsplash content will be a great addition to your articles.
The Experimental tab includes creative photos and graphics that show the surroundings in unusual and intriguing arrangements. Here you will find countless forms, textures and play with light. If you want to impress and shock viewers with your project, you’re in the right place.
The Fashion and Movie tab contains resources related to these industries. This content is more sophisticated and aesthetically refined than those available on other platforms in similar categories.
In the other tabs you can find such leading topics as: Health and Beauty, Interiors, Nature, People, Street Photography, Work at Home, Technology, Business and Work or Animals.
Considering Unsplash’s resources, it must be admitted that the photos have something extraordinary about them and can be suitable for people with a slightly more sophisticated taste.
The third position in the ranking is not accidental – Unsplash is certainly a free image bank worth recommending. The platform is constantly being developed and its resources are growing.
This bank of free photos, in turn, comes with a very good categorization of resources.
You will find, among others, tabs like: Business and Finance, Science and Technology, Education and Health. This is a significant facilitation when searching for thematically appropriate graphics and then editing them with an online graphics program. The photos are distinguished by interesting colors and a neat composition. In total, the site contains over 383,000 free photos.
The Visualhunt website has a well-developed image bank.
In total, it is over 135,000 items. Here you will find free, high-quality images grouped into popular categories. Another facilitation is the ability to sort photos by color options that are visible under the search bar.
It’s a free photo bank that allows graphic designers and bloggers to find photos to use it in their projects. Resources can also be used for commercial purposes.
The search engine makes it easy to find the photos you are looking for. In the ‘Discover’ tab, there is a division into various collections and topics, such as nature, cuisine, people and even nail ideas. These are just a few of the many thematic categories this free photo bank offers.
An additional advantage is the ability to search for photos based on the dominant colors. However, you can only choose one color. The platform also offers resource filtering by orientation and size.
Pexels are distinguished by very good, and interesting video recordings that can easily attract attention. Visiting the portal, you will surely notice them and maybe decide to use one of them in your project.
StockSnap.io is another very good free photo database. It offers completely free of charge divided into categories and collections. They are characterized by very good quality of photos that can be used for any purpose.
The resources of this portal are constantly growing. All this is under the CC0 license, thanks to which you can do whatever you want with the downloaded photos, without specifying the source.
Do you need photos for a business website, digital advertisement or blog? All graphics and ideas for brilliant designs can be found here – dazzling images for creative visualizations.
The site has a category system search engine based on StockSnap tags, which helps you find images that suit your needs perfectly.
Whether you are creating a business website, print brochure, digital or magazine ad, or any other creative project, great images help your content go beyond ‘good’ and become ‘great’. Attractive and eye-catching online work requires remarkable visual effects to be successful.
This free photo bank was created thanks to the initiative of Karolina Grabowska. It contains over 12,000 photos. All resources can be used for commercial and non-commercial use, without the need to assign an authorship.
Here you can filter the content basing on spatial orientation, color or category. Kaboompics is one of the most popular sources of lifestyle and interior design imagery.
This is a free site with tons of free high-resolution stock photos. It was created by the designer and photographer Viktor Hanack and is divided into various categories. It has a search engine to save you time.
It is a great source of free creative photos for professionals. If you are looking for photos for your blog, social media or customer projects, you will surely find something here. On ShotStash you will discover very interesting photos.
The platform ensures it offers only the best, carefully selected photos that are sophisticated and original. The resources are completely free, and you can use them without any restrictions.
You can edit, share and use the downloaded photos in various projects (personal or commercial) without having to obtain consent or assign an authorship.
How about usability and convenience? Everything is sorted into collections, which makes it easier to search for interesting photos. Unfortunately, the division into collections is the only form of grouping photos offered by the website.
In addition, the following free image banks also deserve attention:
If you have found nothing interesting on the previous portals – I encourage you to look here as well.
How to efficiently search for graphics in photo banks?
To download free legal photos or graphics from the internet, you need to have information about some great and proven places where you can find them.
Thanks to this list, you will immediately get round the places that offer low-resolution graphics and go straight to the portals that help you find the right materials in less time.
In addition, you will avoid unnecessary frustration and wading in a sea of photos of questionable quality and aesthetics. Now that you know where to look, take your designs to the next level with mesmerizing graphics and stunning photos. Perhaps they’ll allow you to find a new job even without experience.