Q: “Where can I find images for free that I can use with Photoshop?”

Stock Photography can make quickly transform boring photoshop projects. While the internet possesses almost unlimited opportunities to buy stock images, it’s often to find websites that offer free stock images similar to the quality of the premium stock image sites. In this answer the best free sites and the top premium sites are revealed.

1 Free Sites

You will be able to get higher quality images on premium stock image sites but it’s likely that you will still be able to access similar quality images from some of the free sites below and also some very unique images not accessible on premium stock image websites.


FlickR’s is the Internet’s most popular image sharing service. And if you haven’t already heard of it, welcome back, just how many years were you asleep?

So because of it’s popularity it would seem it’s the best place to find images – yes no maybe? The answer is “maybe” …

The answer is “maybe” because many of the image on FlickR are “all rights reserved”. This can be observed in the sidebar of individual image pages:

1 Under the “additional information” we can see the copyright status of a particular image. Most images on FlickR are “all rights reserved” which means they absolutely cannot be used or displayed in public as they are or edited without the permission of the owner. Therefore these images on FlickR should be ignored.

So what can we do?

We could give up. We could skip the Internet’s most popular image sharing site and move on, but we are not going to. Instead we are going to do a super cool “advanced search” that will find only images on FlickR that we can use. Easy.

On the advanced search page on flickr you can do a search only for creative commons images … Creative Commons is a new form of copyright that was developed years ago before we entered the new millennium.

It allows us to use artist’s work as long as we attribute them when we display it …

In order to search only Creative Commons content on Flickr, go to the advances search page on flickr. Observe the following settings and search:

1 When performing an advanced search on FlickR be sure to check the checkbox labelled “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”.

After doing an advanced search for your search term with only creative commons content selected, when we view images, the sidebar should look like this:

1 When we see the “some rights reserved” it means we can use the image shown without the permission of the owner as long as we give them credit.

There are varying types of Creative Commons licenses that pertain to content on FlickR, so to ensure sure everything is Kosher I recommend clicking on the “some rights reserved” hyperlink to read the exact license terms of whatever image you want to use in your Photoshop exploits.


I prefer MorgueFile to FlickR. It contains high quality images that are available to use for free and without needing to attribute the owner in most instances.

Always check the image descriptions to ensure you can use them. Also check out their terms of use.


StockXchng provides some absolutely fabulous images for everyone’s favourite price (free). If you want high quality stock images but are not amused by the thought of having to pay for them then StockXchng is the best free alternative. I really love this site, a lot.


StockVault provides both free and premium stock photos. It’s similar to StockXchng in that it offers a high quality alternative to premium stock photo sites.


BigFoto is not well known, it does not have a massive database of images, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless to Photoshop superstars. No. The website might not be the most attractive but there are some really great images available that are hard to find elsewhere. The images are exclusively of places around the world, with sections organized into every continent in the world.


I just found out about this site recently. It’s a search engine just for images. It’s called ZoomMr. This site is a useful alternative to using Google or Yahoo for finding images because it exists just for finding images online. Be careful though a large number of images are “all rights reserved”.

2 Premium Stock Image Sites …


The biggest. The baddest. The most popular site online to find premium stock images – iStockPhoto. The quality here is fantastic. If you need a high quality image and you are willing to pay for it then check out iStockPhoto.


I am not a fan of the design of the site – I prefer hanging out on iStockPhoto. If I can’t find the image I want from a free site I generally go to Dreamstime first (even before iStockPhoto).


BigStockPhoto is low cost alternative to other premium stock photo sites.

I sincerely hope your image finding arsenal is now jam packed with websites where you can locate the sort of images you want to use in your work, fast, PRONTO!

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