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Five Free Stock Photography Websites for Finding and Downloading Images

written by: Thursday Bram•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 1/25/2010

When you're working on a desktop publishing project, it's important to be able to add in photos that are relevant to your project. However, you may not have the time to take pictures yourself — and buying stock photography can be expensive. Instead, you can turn to free stock photography.

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    Looking for Free Stock Photos?

    There's lots of reasons why people need to find stock photos for their projects from scrapbooks to pamphlets to newsletters. Whatever the reason you might have, here's a list of five different places where you'll find free stock images you can use in your project.

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    There are thousands of high-quality images available on stock.xchng. Photographers can upload photographs to the site and list the terms they'll allow anyone to use their photos under. In most cases, you can use a photo on most projects — including commercial projects. Common restrictions include preventing a user from reselling an image to a third party. You'll need to set up a free account in order to download images.

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    While many photos on Flickr are copyrighted, there are many available to use under a Creative Commons license. You'll want to check carefully what kind of license a photo that you wish to use is listed under. In some cases, you may need to attribute the original photographer. In others, photos are only available to use if you don't use them for commercial purposes. For more information on Creative Commons licenses, consult the Creative Commons website.

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    A 'morgue file' is a newspaper term for the files of old photos and other materials that might be useful in the future. MorgueFile is just that: a collection of photographs that have been collected and are free to use for both commercial and personal uses. While you don't need to create an account to use the site, setting up a free member account can make it easier to keep track of images you've used or may want to use in the future.

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    EveryStockPhoto is a database of free photos. Read the license terms carefully on photos you find through this site: while they are free, different photos my have different terms of use. You can also limit your searches on EveryStockPhoto to specific licenses. Becoming a member of the site is free.

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    All of the photos on ImageBase are licensed through Creative Commons: they are free to use, although you will need to attribute any photos you use to the photographer. Photos are divided into categories and are available in very high resolutions. The site also offers other materials, such as PowerPoint templates. Many of the photographs on ImageBase come from the site's creator and have specific themes relevant to his work, such as religion.