Sites for Royalty Free Images

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

June 14, 2022

Lately, I have been working on a few projects that require me to use images in presentations, courseware, and on websites.

These projects have not had a budget for images, so purchasing the rights to use images has not been an option. Therefore, I have been using royalty free images. I want to share some sites that I use to find royalty free images, because I suspect many of you also have this need.

Even though I use royalty-free images, it is still important to provide attribution for the images. If the image has a Creative Commons license associated with it, I use that as a guide for how to provide attribution. If a Creative Commons license is not associated with the image, I review each image description closely for how to give attribution to the creator. Pixabay, for example, has a box to the right of a royalty-free image titled Pixabay License. You can see information about each site’s generic license using the following links:

VistaCreate provides specific information for each image on how to provide proper attribution. You decide how you will use the image (web, print, video, or app/games). Once you have clicked one of the four options, the site provides this type of information (this is an example if the use of the image was print): 

Suitable for: books, clothing, flyers, posters, invitations, publicity, etc.

If you can, it’s best to place the attribution line near the resource; otherwise, please include it at the end, with other credits.

For example: “Image resource: VistaCreate”. This article has been designed using images from

Some sites suggest giving a donation to the creator of the image. This is a good practice and something I try to do when the budget allows.

With Google Image Search, you can also narrow your search to images that have a Creative Commons license. With some photos I can find the original source and see what specific Creative Commons license is attached to the image. Additionally, Flickr allows you to search for images with specific usage rights (i.e. commercial use allowed, modifications allowed, commercial use and modifications allowed, etc.). When you select an image on Flickr, you can then click on Some Rights Reserved to see the specific Creative Commons License.

In the comments, please feel free to share any other site you use for royalty free images.

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Her expertise includes information literacy, educational technology, and library and information science education.  Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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