Academic Outreach

Faculty Focused

Websites to Find Royalty Free Images for Your Course

Posted on: July 19th, 2013 by Wan Latartara

Using Google to search for images is a quick and easy way to locate just about any images you may want to add to your course, but you are probably at risk of violating someone’s copyright when you use those images.Why not try to avoid the guilt (and violation of the law) and look for legitimate images elsewhere? Fortunately, there are many great websites that offer hundreds of thousands of royalty free images at no cost. Better yet, some of them integrate their sites with Creative Commons–a non-profit organization that provides photographers with Creative Commons Licenses, enabling them to release their copyrighted work on terms of their choosing.

Below are some of the best, easy to navigate sites. Note that images on these sites are subject to usage restrictions in many cases. This can vary greatly from image to image, so be sure to read it before downloading.

Royalty Free Stock Photos

 FreeImages site

This easy-to-navigate site is a part of Getty Images, a provider of digital media worldwide. Stock.xchng has over 400,000 free images in a wide range of categories.  Downloads, comments and statistics are displayed on each image, which can be useful in finding the one(s) you are looking for. You must sign in or create an account before downloading.


FreerangeStock is a free membership site that allows you to search and download thousands of high resolution photos. Photos on the site are either artistically and photographically interesting, or they provide photographic documentation of an item or event.

Stockvault is a photo sharing website where photographers and designers share their work with each other for free. Over 38,000 of medium and high resolution photos are available for non-commercial use.


FreeDigitalPhotos offers both photos and illustrations for business and personal use. Every image is available for free download. A larger size or a high-resolution version costs from $5 to $10.


MorgueFile is a photo archive that contains over 10,000 free high resolution photos. These creative photos can be downloaded for either business or personal use.

Creative Commons and Public Domain Photos

Flickr: Creative Commons

Among the billions of photos hosted on Flickr, you can find works that are licensed under a Creative Commons License. Head over to Creative Commons on Flickr to explore licensed works. You may also use Advanced Search on Flickr to search within Creative Commons-licensed content.

Flickr: The Commons

The Commons on Flickr offers photos from institutions worldwide, among them are The Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, NASA, and national archives from various countries.

Wikimedia Commons

Users are free to use any of the photos, audio, videos, and other media on the site freely. Keep in mind that certain restrictions apply in many cases.


Foter hosts over 190 million free Creative Commons images from many online sources. Just enter your keywords to search. Photos can be downloaded in small and medium sizes. Pay close attention to attribution and photo credit for each image.

World Images Kiosk

Use World Images Kiosk to access California State University’s IMAGE project, a repository containing over 90,000 images from multiple disciplines including the arts, political and cultural history, sociology, technology, and medicine. These images can be used freely for non-profit and education use.

U.S. Government Photos and Images

This site links to other U.S. government sites containing hundreds of thousands free and public domain images.  Each link on the page leads to collections of images hosted or collected by the respective institution.