Dwindling budgets and an ever-shorter news cycle can make sourcing images for articles and blog posts a headache. Sites like Shutterstock and Getty Images have Web-ready graphics, but they come at a price. Here are five sources of free images that are either in the public domain or labeled for commercial use with attribution.
U.S. Government Photos and Images
This portal is searchable and links out to a number of sources for current and historical images. These external galleries cover the following areas: government; history, arts, and culture; health and nutrition; environment, energy and agriculture; science and technology; money; defense and international relations; and public safety and law.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Photo Library
The library has a good selection of images of plants and animals as well as many landmarks in major U.S. cities. Some images require attribution.
Pixabay is a site where graphic designers can upload their work for use by the general public. It’s an excellent source of images related to technology and social media. Note that some paid images are interspersed with the free ones, so ignore the thumbnails with subtle X-shaped watermarks.
Public Domain Archive
This site can be slow to load, and the navigation is clunky, but it’s a gold mine if you’re looking for beautiful high-resolution images. The search engine also leaves a lot to be desired, so if you’re looking for a very specific image you’re better off using another site.
You’re probably already familiar with the repository for images used in Wikipedia articles. It’s the most comprehensive library of free and free-with-attribution images, but most are taken by amateur photographers and will require some tinkering on your end.
Kate Mulcrone is Web Editor at Convene in New York City. She has worked at business-to-business publications in both the travel and events industries since 2008, and blogged and written entertainment features for MSN.