Free stock photos – what’s the catch

Definition of free stock photography

Free stock photos are photos you could get (from a stock photos website) without paying a fee for their download and usage. But how free are these photos? Well, not so free as you wish…

You should always read very carefully the license therms. Photos are distributed under many licenses and everyone of them could be kind of misleading. Some of the licenses allow you to do almost everything with a photo, but this is not the common case. In fact, the most part of the free photos you can get these days have several limitations on their usage and the most important one is: you cannot use them for any commercial purposes. So, they are free for your own usage only – you can watch them on your display, use them to make a personal wallpaper or a home calendar, but you cannot publish them on the Internet, because this could be considered “commercial” and could lead to very strong financial penalties.

What about using free stock photos commercially?

Of course, there are websites where you can get free photos with commercial usage allowed. But should you do that? Well, why not? Depending on the case: I would not use free stock photos to advertise my business. Mainly because there is a possibility that my competitors use the same photo(s). And this is a big problem! By the way, this is the main reason I would not recommend using any stock photos for advertising purposes, no matter if they’re free of paid. Hiring a photographer and making your own style is always the better choice.

Using photos in an editorial (blog, newspaper, magazine, brochure) is also considered commercial usage. And this is where free stock photos are used most often.

Where could you get free stock photos?

Just type the magic words in a search engine and you will get thousands of pages. Google has an option to image-search only free photos with Creative Commons license for commercial usage, but it returns very few results, probably because the photos need special markup to pop-up in the search and there are only few website that use this markup, one of them is Wikipedia.

stockaphoto - free stock photos

I have many more to do on this site, I have to make a search function and I have to upload all the photos I prepared (over 2000). A login system will be implemented later and only registered users will have access to the bigger size of the photos. This will take some time, as I work on the website only when I do not have other assignments. I don’t know when I will finish it up, but you can already go on the site and get some really free photos.

All the photos are distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License – you can use the photos even commercially, but you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. Also, very important, the license is “NoDerivatives” – you cannot edit, change, remix and so on the photos.

All the photos are offered in two sizes: 800 and 1600 pixels the longest side. The size is quite enough for websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines etc.

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