Girl with Body Paint

4-minute read

How to Source Amazing Images with No Budget

In the open source world, many developers give away their code for free. Wouldn’t it be great if professional photographers would do the same thing with their images? Well, they can…and they do! Step inside for details!

The feature image used above wasn’t chosen by mistake. An article on how to source amazing images has to start with, well, an amazing image. I think it hit the mark. It’s just one of the many open source images I’ve used here on the site.

A Quick Note on Using Engaging Images

Even if the title of the article didn’t intrigue you enough to click through, the desire to see a better, larger version of that image just might have. It’s weird, it’s strange, it’s captivating. Either way, the important thing to note is that the image was completely free to do with it almost anything I want. True story. I grabbed it off the ‘net, uploaded it here to my own commercial website, and am now using it to drive clicks. How can this be?

The Commons

In case you haven’t heard of Creative Commons, here’s a quick primer on how licensing works: Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow others to do various things with, say, an image or a sound or other piece of work. The creator of the work gets to decide which license is used – perhaps they want to be credited, or maybe they don’t want the work used commercially, or they might even allow use of the work so long as it is not altered.

There are 6 primary licenses to choose from, each of which has its own conditions. Here’s a page that describes these six Creative Commons Licenses. And, there’s one more license – the Creative Commons 0 License (CC0) which essentially means “no rights reserved” or “all rights granted“. Scores of creators have jumped on the bandwagon and are offering their work under the CC0 license – free for commercial use, free of royalties, free of random restrictions. And these works are just waiting for you to use them!

Creative Commons 0 means no rights reserved – or, if you prefer, public domain.

Why use images licensed under Creative Commons 0?

There’s three big reasons to use images licensed under Creative Commons 0.

  • Cost
    Because there are no royalties or fees, CC0 images can be used any type of project, no matter how small the budget. This makes your work look better.
  • Value
    The vast majority of CC0 images are high-resolution, high-quality, and production-ready. The number of CC0 images is immense and continues to grow at an exceptional rate.
  • Protection
    Using CC0 images ensures you aren’t going to get sued for copyright infringement.

So, the real question is: why wouldn’t you use images licensed under CC0? Check out the sites below for millions of searchable CC0 images. Oh, and… don’t @ me if you spend all day looking at fantastic images instead of getting your other work done! Note that the following list is far from exhaustive – these are the sites that I use the most because they have virtually everything I’ve ever needed.

Where to Find Amazing Images Licensed under CC0

Learn More About Creative Commons

If you’re interested in learning more about Creative Commons – and I hope you are – the Frequently Asked Questions page is a great place to start. The entire website is a great resource. You will find that there is a vibrant and amazing body of people advancing the Creative Commons movement and

Wrapping Up

The Creative Commons 0 license provides an easy (and legal) method of placing a work into the public domain – we’ve talked about images here, but any work can take advantage of Creative Commons licenses. Using images licensed under CC0 can save you money, provide additional value to your work, and protect you from legal headaches. What’s not to love? The creators of these works want you to use them – they want the work to live on.

What do you think?

What do you think about Creative Commons licensing? Is it new to you or are you old-hat at this stuff? Have you leveraged CC0 assets in your own projects? Can you think of any reasons why not to use works released under CC licenses? I’d love to hear your thoughts – let me know in the comments!