Have you been Googling “free images” for your app development projects? While this may seem like a good idea, images that come up in “free” Google searches are often protected by copyright and can’t be legally used.

There are, however, sites that offer free-to-use images that are acceptable for any purpose. We’ve made a list of the best royalty-free image sources as a resource for your app development projects. Most of these sites offer images under Creative Commons licensing.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization created to help artists more easily share their work.

There are different Creative Commons copyright licenses that range from attribution to public domain.

A Note About Creative Commons CC0

The Creative Commons CC0 license means there are “no rights reserved.” Images released under a CC0 license are placed in the public domain “so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.”

In using an image under CC0, you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission or giving attribution (there’s also a CC-BY license that allows commercial use and modification, but requires you to give the creator credit). Note that there are a number of more restrictive Creative Commons licenses as well, so be sure that any images you plan to use are under the appropriate license before using them in your app or on your website.

Here’s our (alphabetical) list of awesome, high-quality, royalty-free image sites for developers like you.

1. Gratisography

Gratisography was created by visual artist Ryan McGuire. If you’re looking for whimsical or wacky images, check out this site. Images are released under similar terms to the Creative Commons Zero with the common sense differences/limitations

2. Jay Mantri

Jay Mantri offers a collection of beautiful images under the Creative Commons CC0 license. 

3. New Old Stock

New Old Stock is a great source of vintage photos sourced from public archives that are free of any known copyright restrictions.

4. Pexels

Pexels says their mission is to “help millions of designers, writers, artists, programmers and other creators to get access to beautiful photos that they can use freely which empowers them to create amazing products, designs, stories, websites, apps, art and other work.” They currently have over 10,000 free photos and at least 1,500 added per month under Creative Commons CC0.

5. Picjumbo

Created in 2013 by renowned designer and photographer Viktor HanacekPicjumbo was launched in response to several stock photo sites rejecting his photos due to 'lack of quality'. His loss is developers gain. After being featured on Entrepreneur, The Next Web, Buffer and others, this free stock photo site now has over three million image downloads.

6. Pixabay

Pixabay offers free photos, illustrations, vector graphics and video under Creative Commons CCO. Pixabay images are user provided – you can choose to support the artists through Paypal donations if you choose to. 

7. Snapwire Snaps

Tumblr-powered Snapwire Snaps uploads 7 new photos every 7 days from talented photographers under Creative Commons CCO. 

8. SplitShire

Created by Daniel Nanescu, SplitShire says it has the “simple aim of giving life to photographs that would have gone into oblivion without any utility.” Instead of thousands of images sitting in the dark of his hard drive, he provides them free for personal and commercial use. 

9. StockSnap.io

StockSnap.io curates high-quality photos from the web and from a network of photographers who share their work for free. All images are under Creative Commons CC0.

10. Unsplash

Created by the team at Crew, Unsplash is a collection of “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.” Get 10 new photos delivered to your inbox every 10 days. All images are under Creative Commons CCO. 

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