Here on the Buffer blog, we think a lot about visual content.
We’ve shared our own study on the importance of images in Twitter posts for more social sharing. We’ve explored tools that help anyone create visual content.
But there’s one question we get asked quite often: Where can you find free, good quality images that are cleared to use for your blog posts or social media content?
It’s a question with a lot of different answers and caveats. Nearly every image created in the last 30 years is still protected by copyright—a protection that gives virtually every author the exclusive right to use or reproduce their work. But you can find a public domain photo, use a Creative Commons image that might need attribution or even create your own image from scratch.
We’ll explore all of these and then some in this post about free image sources. A few things to know before we get started:
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.
There are various types of Creative Commons licenses that range from allowing any type of use with no attribution to allowing only certain uses and no changes.
What is public domain?
Works in the public domain are those whose copyrights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable. Finding something on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain.
These terms will come up often as we discuss free photo sources. Read over the terms and conditions of each site you try so you know exactly when and what type of attribution is required.
In this post, we’ll break down more than 50 different sources and tools for visual content. We’ll cover the following (click on any section to be taken to that area directly):
(One final note: Anywhere there’s a representative photo that accompanies a tool or site, I’ve tried to leave it at the size it downloaded to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting—click once to get a better look at any photo.)
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