by Art Piccio . September 6th, 2014
We took a look into the so-called attribution-free stock image sites to see if they were legit.
All the following sites allow you to grab high-quality image for any purpose you want. The only caveat is that you can’t pass images off these sites as your own (i.e. entering them in a contest, putting them in your portfolio, etc.).
While finding the pictures you need is kind of crap shoot, New Old Stock offers stunning royalty-free images from way back. If you don’t run a site that relies too heavily on current events or tech, NOS might have exactly what you need.
While the layout could use some tweaking, Picjumbo offers a decent range of image categories for nearly any purpose. The site seems to lean toward the strangely saturated, fake lomo, Instagrammed look. It’s not for everyone, but you’re sure to find something that works.
You’ll definitely want to save this as one of your favorites. These fun and funky free-to-use patterns are heaven-sent for the contemporary designer. I actually want to have some of these patterns printed into a speaker cloth for a guitar amp.
This site offers exactly what it says on the header: “Sign up to get 7 hi-res images zipped up in your inbox every 7 days. Use them anyway you want.” You won’t always get what you want, but if you try some time you just might find you get what you need. Most images on Little Visuals more or less fit a contemporary aesthetic.
Are all these attribution-free sites starting to look all the same, or what? Unsplash releases 10 new photos every 10 days. Again, it’s more or less a hit or miss depending on what your page needs at the time. Most photos feature that dark-edged Instagram look that fits the style of a lot of personal sites these days.
While still similar to the other offerings, Gratisgraphy has a somewhat more logical layout, making it somewhat handier than the others. Don’t forget to contribute to the creator’s “coffee fund”!
While the entire site isn’t free, the part that is has some pretty useable high quality royalty-free photos. The problem is, they’re pretty much just there to butter you up for the paid services. You probably won’t be relying on the free portion for most of your stock image needs since only a limited number are made available at any given time. The search function didn’t really work so well for us either.
Jay Mantri releases 7 darned fine no-attribution-required photos every Thursday. There’s not much else that separates it from the other sites we’ve mentioned so far. Images are attribution-free and high quality . You might get what you want, or not — just take the good with the bad.
Featuring a solid range of high quality images with both contemporary and vintage styles, Public Domain Archive is a new favorite resource of ours. You will have to dig a bit to find something you need, but their selection is big something that works for all but the most esoteric purposes should be there.
It’s almost as if they cut these site developers out of the same cloth. Magdaleine does one thing very differently, though. They give significant attention to the image authors, making this a site we can recommend to photographers who want to network or share their photos with a wider audience.
Even cuisine isn’t exactly your enterprise’s specialty, Foodie’s Feed is incredibly handy for those moments you need to elicit a primal response from your audience. Also great for those times you can’t decide what to eat. And much better than what your friends post on Facebook.
Due to the relatively small selection, lack of a search function (their library’s not big enough to warrant it) and general over-artsiness of the images, you might find limited use for what Picography has to offer. Still though, image quality’s up there, and with stock images you’ll rarely know what you need until you see it for yourself.
While it might be annoying to sign up for yet another service that you’ll probably forget you have, this one’s a winner. Death to the Stock Photo’s pics are generally suited for most general business applications we could think of — and then some. Plus most of the pics don’t have the kind of grainy Instagram quality that can resonate with some demographics, but not others,
Since these sites are free, it’s a bit much to expect that any single one of them can cover every image contingency you have. Not even paid stock image services can promise this consistently! If you have the time to dig through each site and can live with their general lack of usable search functions, you should probably be able to find just what you need.
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Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.