Hi. I have a question that no one seems to be able to answer very easily. I’ve been designing websites for friends and small businesses for a few years now. Over the years I mainly used pictures that I got online after doing searches for “Royalty Free” images. I’ve also used a
company called sxc.hu (which is now owned by Getty Images) to get a few images for websites I’ve made.
It seems that no matter where I get images I always have one or two small images that “belong to” or are “licensed” through Getty Images somehow. I’ve received several threatening letters from them trying to collect money on a few websites I have made.
My question is simply this...is there a source for truly “free” stock photography or a place that has some type of license that allows you to use images on your site if you agree to give credit to the photographer/designer? I can’t imagine everyone is buying photos for every website they make.
There has got to be a few good places that web designers go to for free (or super dirt cheap) images. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Getty Images might own sxc.hu, but it is still the best free image stock image website out there. It has been my go to resource for stock images for years.
For other ideas, try using websites such as creative blogs, Dribbble or other sites where designers might release freebie files. However, those are not images, rather design elements. For images, I really can't think of any other site.
If you sell your designs I imagine you might become, um, very irritated to find that someone used one without permission, let alone without compensating you. And that it might not matter to you that this person who "borrowed" did his or her work for free or at a reduced rate. Especially if the client expected to make money from the result.
Why do you think you shouldn't have to pay for an image if their sale represents an income stream for the person who created it? Treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. Yes, Getty, Corbis, Bridgeman, Art Resource, Magnum and other rights management or stock photo agencies may charge what seems to be a king's ransom for just one image, but many photographers or illustrators submit thousands that never earn a penny. It's a very different income model from that of web designers or developers.
Is there a reason you can't say to your friends/clients "I'll give you a break on my work but you have to pay for the images?"
Have you considered teaming with a photographer or illustrator (or several--maybe through a local art school or even TalkFreelance) for useable images to which you have rights? I've done that.
I've also left image-sourcing to clients, which can work if you have a strong contract that specifies you had nothing to do with their choice and know nothing about their source or compensation paid or withheld.
And I've used images I've made myself, which either charm clients or convince them of the need to pay for professional work. ;^)
(of course, I'm not a web designer/developer, I do content things only.)
You get what you pay for, sxc.hu is the best there is for free and at this point they are little more than a marketing platform for Getty. It doesn't really matter though since they were never high quality. The bottom line is that photography equipment is expensive and taking a good photo is not a trivial thing -- it takes skill. There is no good free source of stock images.
And yes, everyone who isn't stealing is buying their images. In general, designers either put the entire burden of stock images on the client or they pass the costs over; this is not something designers take a hit on.
I see a lot of people use premium photos with the watermark on their templates. They then inform the end user where to buy the image if they want to use it. Other than that Village Genius is right sxc.hu is your best bet.