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Be it your desktop, a post to your blog or your homepage banner, the right image can help bring your point across, make it stand out and shine or simply look very cool.

What does royalty free mean in the first place?

Simply put, you don’t have to pay royalties or license fees for using the material. It doesn’t necessarily mean the material is completely free, in most cases you will still need to pay a small initial fee to obtain the image, icon or sound. Then however, you can use it in any way the end user license agreement allows you to, meaning no further license fees will have to be paid.

In this post I will share with you some great resources for royalty free photos, which are free to use for non-commercial work.

I was a little surprised at first to find that Flickr is one of the best sources for royalty free photos. Without doubt, Flickr has one of the greatest and constantly growing collections of individual, unusual and beautiful images. Now, you can’t just use any photo found on Flickr. If you want to stay within legal boundaries, start right here at Flickr’s Creative Commons page and pick the license agreement that suits you best. With The Attribution-Non Commercial License for example, there are almost 10 million photos to pick from. Click on “See More”, then go ahead and use the search as usual. It might be helpful to select “Most interesting” instead of “Most relevant” in order to see only the most popular images. It’s important to note that all Flickr photos must be credited, indicated by the BY: sign in the license.
Now that I think about it, it’s quite logic that Flickr would be your number one stop for photos, but from the legal point of view, I didn’t expect it to be so well organized in the first place. And at this point I need to give credit to Skellie from skelliewag for a wonderful article on Flickr Images.

My personal favorite is stock.xchng. I’ve been using this site for around two years and find it very convenient. To get your hands on any of their images, you have to sign up, but in this case it’s worth it. Most images come with “standard restrictions”, indicating the site’s image license agreement. Some users may wish to be credited or notified when their work is being published, some want to be asked before you use their images.


Stock.xchng offers a few extras. Members can upload and share their own material, rate and comment on photos, and send other users private notes through their profile. Favorites are organized in so-called lightboxes, which can be made public. Members can also contribute image related tutorials and there is quite an impressive collection to browse. As a member you can submit posts to the community blog, which in fact is an aggregate of individual user blogs. You see, there is a lot to be discovered on stock.xchng.

Everystockphoto is a search engine for license-specific photos. It crawls many of the popular stock image sites, making it easy to search many sources at once. Since this is only a search engine, the images are not stored on their servers, and some sources, such as stock.xchng, require you to set up an account before being able to download anything. Also, be sure to check the site specific terms of usage. What’s cool is the everystockphoto Firefox Search Plug-in (found under Tools) with which you’ll have free stock photos right at your fingertips.

Do you know of any other royalty-free picture websites? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. AraLai Discount Cosmetics
    March 8, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Great pictures.Good post.

  2. GB
    May 30, 2008 at 2:59 am is a great site with both royalty free and royalty managed photos and illustrations. It just won an webby

  3. AskTheAdmin | Karl Gechlik
    May 23, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Great find Tina! As Travis said after a short time using it I found what I needed!

  4. Jalaluddin
    May 23, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Thanks Lana for the comment and recommending Photodropper.

    We have been using Flickr on the blog and this is a godsend.

    Hope it works with WP 2.5.

  5. Lana
    May 22, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    There is a plugin for a wordpress, which lets you find and post free images from Flickr.
    Here is the page:
    If you run a Commercial Blog, you need to check “Show only photos that can be used commercially” in the Photo Dropper options after installation. I used it a couple of times before updating to WP2.5. and it worked fine. I haven't used it since updating. There could be changes.

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 23, 2008 at 8:45 am

      I use Photodropper too in my own blog and it works great. Trouble is that it relies on people tagging their photos correctly so often when you put in a search term, it returns a lot of crap. But the plugin itself works flawlessly.

  6. Stimul8d
    May 23, 2008 at 3:22 am is indeed a good find but hang on...there's a bandwagon here,..i can smell it. I have my top 26 (and pretty god damn exhaustive) list of stock image/icon/font resources right here - . Hope people find them useful.

  7. Abhijeet from Jeet Blog
    May 22, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Nice Post. I wrote a similar post sometime back which readers may find good too- Excellent And License Free Stock Photo Websites For Bloggers

  8. Travis Quinnelly
    May 22, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Nice find there with Hadn't seen that one before, and using it for just a few seconds proved productive. Thanks Tina!