Creative Commons Images: The Guide

5.9 min readPublished On: 11 February 2020By
Creative Commons Images

Creative commons images are an amazing resource that you should probably be using for your business! Ever struggle with finding the perfect image for your website or social media post? Then, images with creative commons are to the rescue. There are literally thousands of creative commons stock images out there for you to take advantage of! No matter what type of business you have, there are sure to be plenty out there to suit your needs. In this post, we go through some of our favourite websites for creative commons royalty free images. We also go through some of the most regular questions we are asked about them in our social clinics. To skip straight to these questions, click here- are creative commons images free to use- really?

The best sites for creative commons images

Over the years, the Delivered Social team has narrowed down our favourite websites for creative commons stock images to just a few that consistently deliver the best images and are the most useful for our needs. Read on to find out about where to get the best creative commons royalty free images for yourself…

Unsplash is the king of images with creative commons licenses

We really think that Unsplash is the best of the best when it comes to creative commons images. It’s very simple to use. You just type in what you’re looking for and it will deliver the images that it thinks are the best match. The vast majority of the images are great quality and large enough for a wide variety of uses. Whether you need that perfect image for social media, or to show off on your website, you’re very likely to find it here. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to this site. Some of the creative commons royalty free images that it suggests can be totally unrelated to what you are actually searching for. Thus, you sometimes have to do some digging and try different search terms to find the perfect creative commons images that you need.

creative commons images

You can find pictures of virtually everything on Unsplash!

Pexels has plenty more creative commons stock images

Another site that we like for stock images is Pexels! This works in a similar way to Unsplash, where you simply use the easy search function to find the images that you want. Then, you can download them for free in a couple of clicks. If you can’t find the perfect images with creative commons licensing on Unsplash, then we’d recommend Pexels as your next stop. However, there are a couple more drawbacks to this site. Quite a lot of the images are the same as can be found on other sites. There is also sometimes less choice. That’s why we don’t usually use it as our first port of call.

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Google is an untapped resource for creative commons images

That’s right- Google Images can be an amazing resource for finding those elusive images! There is often more free to use images on there than you might think. But, you must bear in mind that you can’t just use any old image that you find there. There’s a simple trick to work out which ones are images with creative commons licensing, and which aren’t. On your Google Images search, click tools. Then, on the ‘usage’ tab, make sure that ‘labelled for reuse’ is ticked. You may also want to make sure that the size of the image is checked as ‘large’ for the best quality images. There’s often the smallest amount of choice of quality images on this site, but it can be really useful if the other two sites haven’t produced the perfect image!

There we have it, three of our favourite resources to use when looking for the perfect free images. Next, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we get about these images and using them…

So, are creative commons images free to use- really?

This is a very common question that we get asked regarding these images. And the simple answer is yes, they really are free to use! You just have to make sure that the images you are using are royalty-free. On sites such as Pexels, Unsplash, and Google Images, this will be clear to see as long as you have the right settings enabled. Most images that aren’t free to use will have to be paid for before you can access them, or have watermarks.

creative commons images: piggy bank

Most of these images really are free!

What should I do if I’m not sure if my image is free to use?

The simple answer is, you probably shouldn’t use it unless you are definitely sure that it’s free to use. This includes most images you can find on Google that aren’t labelled for reuse. If you do use an image that is not creative commons licensed, then it will be copyrighted. You then run the risk of the copyright holder asking you to remove the image, or even worse!

I still can’t find the images I want to use! What do I do now?

If you really can’t find the right image for your needs on the sites we’ve mentioned above, there are a couple of things you can do. Have you tried searching for something slightly different? Often, the images might be labelled under something a bit different from what you would describe them as. If this still brings up nothing, what about taking your own photos? It’s simple to get some basic pictures on your own. Or, hiring a photographer might be cheaper than you think! We know several photographers that would be happy to help, so if you’re local, get in touch with us. The great benefit to this is that the images will be totally unique to you and, in most cases, you’ll be free to use them however you wish.

Is there anything else I should be aware of?

The short answer is yes! Just because an image has a creative commons license doesn’t mean that it can always be used commercially- that is, for business uses. Photographers can choose whether they want their photos to be available for commercial use or not. So, this is something to be aware of. However, the large majority of images found on the sites we have mentioned above are fine to use for your business purposes.  Other images may require that you credit the photographer, which is another thing to be aware of.

Hopefully, this article about creative commons images has been useful for you! It can be tough to know where to start, so this post should have shown you some of the basics. If you’re still struggling with this or any other issue with your digital channels, why not book in for a totally FREE Social Clinic with us? We can go through it all with you and advise you on the best steps to take. Find a time that suits you here.

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Jonathan Bird

Terence Carvalho

Jonathan Bird

Terence Carvalho

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