My favorite free sources of photos

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Updated on December 10, 2021

An updated version of this post is available here.

As you’ve noticed, I make use of a lot of photos for my blog posts. While some of these are pictures or screenshots of things like TV shows, movies, or comics, others are photographs I use as a way to illustrate a blog post, such as the one I wrote about Radio Shack going under.

Fortunately, instead of having to go out to take a photo of a Radio Shack myself, I can just use one of the various online sources of free photos. Since some sources are better than others, I thought I’d highlight which ones I prefer to use. They all have the advantage of being freely usable/Creative Commons material, instead of relying on possibly problematic copyrighted material.

Flickr Creative Commons

Radio Shack
Flickr photo by Mike Mozart (CC BY).

I’ve written before about Flickr Creative Commons photos, but it’s one of Flickr’s strong points. Users can upload photos to Flickr and assign various Creative Commons licenses. The photos under the Flickr Creative Commons page are sorted by license.

BY-NC-SA (non-commercial use only, and the final work is required to be shared under the same license terms) is the most common license on Flickr. However, the photos I choose are usually the most liberal license option, BY. Under that license, attribution is the only requirement, and the images are free to use or edit for commercial or non-commercial uses.

Google Images

Google Images offers a vast number of photos, though many of them are strictly copyrighted. To deal with this, Google has added to its image search function the ability to search only for Creative Commons licensed photos. To use this feature: on the image search page, go to the menu bar under the search box and select “Search Tools,” then select “Usage rights” and select which Creative Commons license option you wish. (“Labeled for reuse with modification” is the most liberal license.)

Wikimedia Commons

Blackhawks vs Blue Jackets
By Leech44 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia is the general hub for various media tying into the most famous online wiki, Wikipedia. Wikimedia specifically stores the various images used on Wikipedia, with many of them licensed under public domain or Creative Commons licenses and free to reuse. However, Wikimedia doesn’t have the organization or search function strength of Flickr or Google. Wikimedia does have an advantage over those two: it offers Creative Commons accrediting links for photos pre-formatted, making it easy to copy and paste into your own blog.


Openclipart is a clip art repository of public domain clip art. While not photos, the images here are useful. It’s where I found the laptop artwork I use in my site’s logo. (Update 7/28/19: site offline)


Dreamstale is a site offering free and premium graphics for websites, including social media buttons, backgrounds, etc. Some of the free graphics are Creative Commons licensed. Dreamstale is where I obtained the “Follow Me” buttons in the sidebar.

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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