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public domain imagesPublic Domain refers to material that is ‘publicly available’ and not covered by intellectual property or copyrights. In today’s media, where visual art is abundant, there is a high demand for images, for example for webdesign projects. As a consequence, there are many stock photography websites where artists can sell their photographs or image designs. There are, however, also resources that feature public domain images.

Public Domain Pictures

This page is a repository for public domain images. It is maintained solely by its users, who can upload and download images for free. Some photos require a model or property release, when used commercially. This, however, is a general requirement for photos. Material can easily be browsed by various categories, including professional or seasonal photos. Image tags allow an easy search.

public domain images

The page for each image contains detailed information about the license, the camera used to take it, and links to the artist. The website cleverly supports the creators by offering a premium download and the option to buy the artist a coffee.

Wikimedia Commons

Most images used on Wikipedia are part of the Wikimedia Commons, a database of over 10 million freely usable media files, including public domain images. Recently, for example, the Russian International News Agency has donated 100 historical photographs from their archives. Media files can be surfed by topic, location, type, author, license, and source. Each of these categories has subcategories, to refine the search. You can also search files by tags.

public domain photos

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The dedicated page for each features details about the item, including the permission for use and any licenses associated with the file. For most media files you will find that the copyright has simply expired and it has thus moved to the public domain.

Image After

Image After describes itself as the raw base for your creativity. The public domain images provided on this page all underline the same terms of use, which basically are that you can use the images for anything, other than building a page that is in direct competition with Image After.

You can simply search images or use the thorough options, which allows you to sort an image category for example by size, then filter it by color. You can also search based on image tags.

public domain photos

Public Domain Photos

The 5,000 photos and 8,000 free clip arts on this page can be used for any purpose, including commercial. The photos are typically provided in a single high resolution. These public domain images are tagged and sorted into categories, offering you two ways to easily find them.


This resource for free stock photos has been so popular that not only have we mentioned it multiple times on MakeUseOf, it was also recently acquired by Getty Images.

public domain photos

Stock.XCHNG presently contains almost 400,000 photos and many of them are royalty free with no further usage restrictions. You can quickly view the restrictions in the availability field underneath the respective image. Some artists request to be notified or credited, others only require standard restrictions, which are defined by the Stock.XCHNG.

public domain pictures

To download material you have to sign up with Stock.XCHNG.


Flickr is an obvious resource, yet it is often neglected. Using the advanced search feature, you can search only photos with a Creative Commons license that allows you to use the content commercially and/or modify, adapt, or build upon the content. These two licenses in combination essentially make the image ‘public domain’ in that you can use it for anything. However, the license restriction is that you have to credit the original creator.

public domain images

If you are looking for very specific public domain images, you should check out the public domain image resources listed on Wikipedia. They feature historical images, as well as visual arts, logos, books, and more.

A site that has been recommended many times in comments to previous articles is morgueFile. Unfortunately, the site was very slow when I tested it, hence it is not properly included in this article.

For more royalty free image resources, check out the following articles:

Where do you get your public domain or royalty free images from?

Image credits: Petr Jilek

  1. Giorgio
    November 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Hi, I'd like to submit the free (CC Attribution-ShareAlike) photo web site that I just started:

  2. Paul
    November 11, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Hi, I would jut like to let you know about my blog at I have a very modest but growing collection of antique, vintage and retro photos, poster and illustrations. It's a person project, no advertising, just cool images!

  3. Free Use
    September 14, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Another great resource:
    All images are CC0 licensed

  4. James Conway
    July 30, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Thanks for info!
    I recommend for vintage photos - most of them are in the public domain.

  5. TObias
    May 15, 2015 at 6:13 am

    I can recommend Plixs serve thousands of free public domain images and has great search features. Maybe you can add the source to your list.

  6. Louis
    May 13, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I stongly recommend using, No attribution, royalty free and an easy search function.

  7. Brin
    March 2, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Stock.Xchng is NOT public domain.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 2, 2015 at 11:43 am

      No and the title of the article is "Public Domain Images & Free Stock Photos". Sock.XCHNG falls in the latter category or at least used to when I wrote this article almost 4 years ago. Anyway, it seems like it doesn't exist anymore.

  8. Wezy
    December 16, 2014 at 6:59 am

    I stumbled upon, it pulls images from all kinds of free image sites and organizes them by license.

    • Anonymous
      January 20, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      I think you meant:

  9. Laven
    July 26, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Thanks for the great information. I've learnt a new site to find free images. I never know Wikimedia commons has free usable images. Can I add a site of They do provide free images and I've been using some of them.

  10. Jhuan Herr
    July 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    This is wonderful !!!!!

  11. www_bone_ro
    July 24, 2011 at 9:55 am

    VERY USEFUL. thx

  12. Jaime B
    July 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you Tina, this was fantastic. I have used Stock.XCHNG for years, but these other resources could not have come at a better time. I was actually doing picture research for my next project when I got your article! LOL

    Thank you.

    • Tina
      July 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

      Glad you found the information useful, Jaime!

  13. Cell Travis
    July 22, 2011 at 5:18 am

    DotGovWatch ( ) is another source of free images submitted by US Government employees.

    • Tina
      July 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks for sharing! These are great resources for the respective categories.

  14. Karthik Prabhu
    July 22, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Thanks Tina. These free tools can be really useful for adding featured images to blog posts. I found Public Domain Pictures and stock.xchng really nice. Have you tried this - It's a really nice tool to search images on Flickr.

    • Tina
      July 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Awesome search tool. Thanks for sharing!

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