January 8, 2013

Finding images for your website can be a daunting task.  We thought it'd be useful to compile a resource of sites we use to help people tasked with this responsibility.


Commercial Resources 

iStock Photo

iStock is a great resource for affordable imagery, icons and vector graphics. Their site's easy to navigate, with advanced search options which make it easy to filter down by keyword, orientation and price. They have the largest selection, but with huge volume also comes questionable quality. If you're willing to dig through some crummy/unusable stuff, you can find some great results on iStock.


We like to use Veer when quality matters more than price. The quality of imagery on Veer tends to be more refined and more suitable for projects that require a more sophisticated look and feel. The prices range widely, with many of the images at roughly the same cost as iStock, but some being quite a lot more. The interface is also easy to use and navigate.


Free Resources


This site's been around for ages, providing (mostly) high-quality, user-submitted stock photos. Most of the images are free for both personal and commercial use, although some require crediting the content creator or submitting a request for the high-resolution files. Free account required to download photos.



morgueFile is a collaborative image sharing repository. All the images on the site are free to use without attribution, for commercial purposes, but must carry the morgueFile copyright license. The images are free, as long as they're modified in some way before being repurposed.


Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

The Library of Congress PPOC hosts a huge collection of archived images. The collection contains photographs, prints, drawings, posters,  architectural drawings and much more. The majority of the content on this site is in the public domain, and thus free to use; however, it's important to always check for copyright restrictions on each image. 



NASA offers a nice collection of space-age photographs, 3D renderings and maps. The vast majority of images on NASA's site aren't restricted by copyright, but there are a few rare exceptions. The website can be a little difficult to navigate, but you can find many beautiful, free images buried in their archives. 


The Noun Project

This is a great starting point when you're looking for simple, bold and versatile vector icons. Many of the icons are in the public domain, while the rest are licensed with a Creative Commons CC BY license, which permits usage with proper attribution. The site is beautifully designed and features a comprehensive search engine which makes it easy to find the images that you need. 



iconmonstr is another great resource for finding a large variety of symbols and icons in both vector and raster format. Everything is free to use without attribution. (The icons may not be re-packed or redistributed as a stand-alone set, however.)


Creative Commons Search

CreativeCommons.org offers a specialized search engine which scans the web for images that have some type of Creative Commons copyright license. There are a number of licenses available, so you'll have to check the specific guidelines for the licensed content. You should always verify that the content is actually under a CC license before using it in your work. 


Free & Commercial Resources

Google Images

Most people are familiar with Google and have probably used its image search function at some point. But you might not be aware that you can now search for images with actual image files such as jpg and png. This can be extremely helpful when trying to find the original source for those orphaned images on your hard drive. It's also nice if you want to find images that look similar to another image that you're already working with. This short video does a nice job of demonstrating this feature.

Have other sites or hacks you love? Add them in the comments!