Free high-res image sources on the web

First off, let me say that you generally get what you pay for.

The best images are purchased from a photographer, or high-end stock houses like Gettyone, Corbis, or the like. For many lower-budget projects, though, or for more general images (a photo of the sky, for instance), you can find what you’re looking for at a much lower price — sometimes free.

Free Images:

Image After imageImage After: The photos on this site aren’t generally that great, but hey, they’re free, right? And if you just need a photo of some rocks, an apple, the sky, a computer, etc., for demonstration’s sake, these photos will do just fine. They might be best for textures, backgrounds, etc., and definitely work best if you have some photoshop skills to tweak the images.

stockXchange imageStock.xchange: This site has pretty high-quality images, especially considering their cost (free). They describe themselves as ” a friendly community of photography addicts who generously offer their works to the public free of charge.” It’s a photo community of sorts - people upload their photos to share, other people download them. Photographers often ask to be notified if you use their photo, as a courtesy.

iconlet iconIconlet: A source of free icons for webpages. The range is pretty good, and it’s much easier to do a quick search for an existing icon than to create your own.

Almost Free Images:

iStockPhoto: A nice range of images, and generally quite professional in quality. If you’re using these for print, be careful to make sure that the images that are isolated on white are really isolated on white (I learned that the hard way once), but overall, with a range of prices from $1 to $15, depending on resolution, this is a pretty good imagery source. They also offer vector-based illustration. This is a subscription-based service, so if you need a lot of photos, it’s a good deal. You can buy anywhere from a one-month subscription ($99), up to a year subscription for $699. Other higher-end stock houses are now offering subscription-based plans to compete with, but still looks to be the least expensive.

Oh, and for those who aren’t used to working with stock images — don’t ever use non-free stock images without paying for the license — the big stock houses regularly enforce their licenses, and make sure that the people getting caught pay much, much more than the original cost of the image.

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