Where to Find the Best Images for Social Media

By Rhonda Bradley / 7 February 2018

Discover the best sites for free image downloads that can be used in your social media pages.

Are people engaging with your social media platforms? Engagement is the most important metric businesses look at when evaluating their social media success.

“Articles, videos, and images engage customers best,” according to a recent survey of 344 social media marketers.

In this guide, we’ll cover the third listing, images, since they’re often needed to create the other two (articles and videos).

First, let’s clear up a myth about social media. It’s not a free-for-all when it comes to posting and sharing images.

In fact, not all platforms allow you to legally repost content within the same network. For example, Instagram requires you to obtain permission from the original owner before sharing another user’s photo.

The copyright licenses for shareable media can become confusing when you’re working on multiple social platforms. It’s an area in where you can’t afford to slip up; yet, mistakes come easy when trying to keep all the rules straight.

By creating unique content and securing images on your own, you can maintain control over potential copyright issues.

Below you’ll discover how to find some of the web’s most stunning images to use in your social media content.

Where to Find Free Images for Social Media

1. Unsplash: "Beautiful, Free Photos"

Screenshot of photo website Unsplash's homepage

Unsplash doesn’t mess around with fancy licenses or make you jump through hoops to figure out what’s free to use. Their terms are simple.

“All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free.”

Downloading photos from Unsplash is quick and easy. You don’t even need to sign up. They offer over 300,000 images that you can use for free on your blogs, social media, and websites.

2. Pexels: "Empowering Creators"

Screenshot of photo website Pexel's homepage

Pexels is another free photo download site with fairly simple terms. They operate under a standard Creative Commons Zero license (CC0), which means that the images are free for any legal purpose.

 

3. Negative Space: “Beautiful, High-Resolution, Free Stock Photos”

Screenshot of photo website Negative Space's homepage

Negative Space offers images that are unique, which sets it apart from larger sites like Unspash or Pexels 

Negative Space also has free image downloads under a CC0 license.

4. Gratisography: Free High-Res Pictures Without Copyright Restrictions

Screenshot of photo website Gratisography's homepage

Gratisography offers some of the most stunning photography available in a free image service. But, most of the photos are a bit offbeat. For people with a sense of humor or those who embrace the weird and twisted, this site is a dream come true.

You’ll also discover a few non-wacky images among the collection, and this makes it worth checking out, no matter what style you’re looking for.

Before you download any images, take a few moments to understand copyright law and how it applies to social media. This way, you’ll know what type of license to look for when you’re downloading images to use on your social media platforms.

Where to Find Higher-Quality Premium Images for Social Media

If you’re in business or marketing (or another field that requires photos of teams and office people), you might want to skip the free sites and go straight to one of the premium sites below. The free sites lack diversity when it comes to images of business people.

Megapxl and Shutterstock offer high-resolution images that are simple to search and download. Be sure to read the details of their licenses before downloading from either of them.

The resolution and quality are similar, or sometimes better, than what you’ll find on the free sites.

The biggest difference in paid vs. premium, though, is behind the camera. Many of the free sites offer high-resolution photography. But the choreography of the photos from the premium sites is better, with more realistic people.

Now that you know where to find stunning images for your social media channels, don’t forget to consider taking your own photos. They’re inexpensive, copyright-free, and unique to your company.

Rather make social media images yourself? Use these 4 social media artwork apps to get started.

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