Pimp Up Your Content: The Top 7 Sites for Royalty Free Images

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By Boris Dzhingarov

When you want to make your content really pop, it never hurts to add an image or three to space out the copy by interspersing it with some lively color. Finding the right type of photos is not easy, but certain sites have large collections of royalty free images that can be used with (and sometimes without) attribution.

Here are our 7 recommended sites to find interesting, royalty free images.

1.      Pexels

Pexels has some excellent photographs to use under their Creative Common Zero (CCO) license agreement. Websites provide attribution under the image, and they’re all high quality. Pexels also has videos to use as well.

The home page has a list of their top photographers along with the number of views their galleries have received. For each photo, you can also view how many likes and downloads they’re received. Following individual photographers is easy too.

It’s possible to run a general search or click “more” and view organized categories of tagged photos from a myriad of photographers.

Joining up is done either through an email address or Facebook account.

2.      Startup Stock Photos

The appropriately named Startup Stock Photos is a more boutique affair with interesting photos displayed on the home page.

The range of images isn’t as substantial as with other sites like Pexels, but the site is perfectly targeted for images to use for new online businesses.

They tend to take multiple photos from different angles and situations within a given shoot, allowing for various matching images, which is useful if you are building a website. For instance, today there is a woman using a MacBook Pro sitting at a meeting table or perched on at the window in slightly different poses each time.

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When you’re looking for different images that others aren’t currently using, this is a great website for you. There’s no sign-up necessary, and their CC0 License has you covered.

3.      Unsplash

Unsplash is very navigable with its most popular categories listed at the top of the home page. There’s also a search function to narrow down your choice from over 1.1 million available photos. Additionally, Unsplash has a mobile app to look for photos in your spare time.

The photo service makes it easy to credit the photographer by providing the code to embed into your website page or post. It’s not necessary based on their Unsplash provided license, but it’s appreciated by the photographers.

The stock images vary widely in topic, including animal images, portraits, fashion shoots and travel escapades. They have anything you could think of and in very high quality too. There are also textures and patterns for people looking for an interesting background that won’t take too much attention away from their website’s content.

The best photos are highlighted by the Unsplash crew, who look at new submissions and select their current favorites. Joining up is done through your email address or Facebook account.

4.      Free Range Stock

All of the photos on the Free Range Stock website come from a pool of both in-house photographers as well as a growing community of external contributors. Their in-house photos are either from a 4,000 DPI camera or a digital DSLR image, so there’s no worries about quality or resolutions.

From the home page, you can see their latest images, their most popular or search for what you’re needing. There are also some convenient categories, which are further broken into sub-categories with clickable tags to make it quicker to narrow down a search. For instance, in ‘Business and Office,’ there’s a category for ‘Teamwork,’ which is very relevant for someone writing an article about “Productivity Improvements in the Workforce.”

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Photos are available in various sizes and can be automatically sent to the online editor, Pixlr, which is a neat download option. Also, through a partnership with iStock from Getty Images, some of their non-royalty free licensed images can be previewed on the same page too. For this site, sign up is required to download their images.

5.      MorgueFile

Probably the most unusually named royalty free photo collection site is MorgueFile. However, its name is somewhat fitting in the sense that it has the wackiest group of photos. They’re eclectic, interesting and high-resolution too.

For the interface, it’s a bit quirky. You can see the number of views, likes and downloads for a each photo. The resolution and tagged keywords are also shown.

You’re also given promotions to Getty Image’s iStock with square advert pop ups when downloading. After downloading, you’re returned back to the home page again.

The site has over 300,000 royalty free images. This means that many haven’t much been used elsewhere on the web, which makes it a great place to find something unusual or that hasn’t been seen on other blogs. Downloading images doesn’t require signing up.

6.      Pixabay

Pixabay has perhaps the largest collection of royalty free images. The image resolution varies from image to image, so they’re certainly not all 4K.

The collection is large but is focused more around business topics rather than photographs of beautiful landscapes. Therefore, it works well for bloggers needing these types of topics.

There’s also vectors and other images types available too, and sign up is through email, Facebook or Google.

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7.      PikWizard

PikWizard is an excellent site. It has good quantity royalty free images without being excessive.

While the site does cover a mix of topics, one area that it excels at is natural images of people. By this we mean no uncomfortable stock image poses with fake smiles! So, you might get a boxer working out who’s snapped in mid-workout rather than posing with his trainer.

For any site that needs real people in a real-world situation, this is a great site to hunt through!

It’s a good idea to look at both the huge photos sites and the smaller ones too. This is because you’re likely to find unusual photos on the smaller sites but locate most of what you need from the sites with huge collections.