The best things in life are free images

by | 14 Nov, 2016 | 2 comments

Searching for high quality images to use in teaching and learning, free from copyright, licensing or cheesiness issues?

Here are a range of handy collections you can use for ANYTHING you want – most even without attribution.

1. The Organised


A 3D model of a heart. The model is in sharp focus and bright yellow, red and blue, while the background is blurred.

What I like most about Stocksnap is the themed collections – handy if you need general images for particular discipline areas. For example, check out the collections of free architecture, business or medical images.

2. The Edgy


A hand holds a smartphone up to take a picture of some bright pink, yellow and blue graffiti on a wall. The hand and the smartphone are in sharp focus, while the wall behind it is blurred.

You can use these quirky, high-res images for personal and commercial projects – completely free, or buy the creator a coffee.

3. The Arty

A pineapple floats in a bright blue swimming pool.
Unsplash has images so beautiful and inspiring, it’s hard to believe they’re free. Warning: you may find yourself day-dreaming about your next holiday.

4. The Science-y


A male scientist sits in a darkened laboratory, his face illuminated by the computer monitor he is looking at.

Scientist in the laboratory at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong. Photographer : Frank Filippi.


Ready to science the heck out of something?  CSIRO’s image library specialises in science and nature images and is a god(particle)send for those in scientific disciplines. You will need to give credit to the author of the images as they’re released under a Creative Commons license.


5. The Everything

Negative Space


A stethoscope next to a laptop.


These huge collections have a bit of everything. Pixabay also has thousands of icons along with photos.

6. The Public Domain collections

Wikimedia Commons

Flickr commons

An old, black and white photo of a group of women standing together outdoors, in front of a backdrop of trees - from the Kalamazoo Public Library McConnell collection

Unidentified image from the Kalamazoo Public Library McConnell collection (from flickr Commons)

Wikimedia Commons is very well-known, but its little sibling Flickr Commons is also a rich source of images from the world’s public photography archives. Both are excellent for expired-copyright historical images.

What’s the catch?

For once, there really isn’t one! Free means free. The only annoyance with these sites is sometimes having to enter ‘captchas‘ or click past ads.  Be aware that some sites advertise paid-for images alongside the free ones.  And whenever you’re using an image you didn’t create, it pays just to double check that it is released under public domain or Creative Commons Zero (CC0).

Have I missed your go-to free image goldmine? Let me have it in the comments.



  1. Stuart Miles


    I’ve got one more website you may find helpful. is an image stock collection which has high-quality visuals totally free devoid of copyright restrictions. Commercial use allowed, no attribution necessary, and no registration needed.

    • Lucy Arthur

      Thanks Stuart!



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