A posh camera held by the photographer to point at his head / our view.

Free to use images 2021 edition

There are some great stock image websites out there, with hundreds of thousands of terrible stock photos that you should not inflict upon your colleagues or clients.

There are some great stock image websites out there, with hundreds of thousands of terrible stock photos that you should not inflict upon your colleagues or clients.

I won’t tell you how to do art direction for your intranet or website, as much as I would like to. Just remember that representation matters (#diversity, #inclusion) and your colleagues are likely numb to, or sick of, unrealistically perfect shots of smiling people in suits. People like to see themselves, and that means using photos taken across the organisations by you and your colleagues.

You can use Google and Flickr to find free-to-use images, but only if you know how to set the settings to ‘creative commons’. Otherwise you’re likely to find images that you do not have permission to use on your intranet. Do not break copyright. Do not steal images from the internet. Do not forget to to record where you got your images from (their providence).

Image editing websites

If you can’t access image editing software on your laptop or mobile device, try an online editor. Crop and resize your images. Make sure the file-size is much less than 900KB!


remove.bg/ or experte.com/background-remover and stickermule.com/uk/trace

artify.co TOAP (text on a pic) editor and gallery

cleanup.pictures/ removes items and people with a touch. Pretty amazing.

Great free-to-use stock image sites

unsplash.com — the reigning champion. While the top results will be great, remember the top results will have been used a lot already. Dig deep to find unique hidden gems.

wunderstock.com – new entry, makes use of Flickr images that allow free use. The licence choice is good

feathericons.com — smart, open-source icons.

burst.shopify.com — a gem, but be aware they host the Breitbart far-right webshop.

genderphotos.vice.com — goes beyond gender presentation and into diversity and inclusion.

flickr.com/photos/wocintechchat/ — women of colour in tech! Use attribution.

pexels.com — great!

ukblacktech.com/stockphotos/ — small set.

nappy.co — larger photo repository of “black and brown people”.

pixabay.com — good! With paid-for images at top of page.

Advanced flickr.com — mixed bag. Be aware of the licence type.

picnoi.com — free to use photos from a co-op of photographers.

photopin.com — worth exploring if you’re willing to use attribution.

affecttheverb.com/collection/ — disability-led LGBT photos.

disabilityin.org — a dozen disability inclusive photos.

stockvault.net — I’ve not used yet, see for yourself.

freepngimg.com — graphics on transparent backgrounds!

cleanpng.com — another for graphics on transparent backgrounds.

wallpaperhub.app — beware of wallpaper sites, they rarely care about legal and moral copyright. This one is dominated by Microsoft… make up your own mind.

Generated portraits for user research stuff

If creating personas or needing ‘example faces’ to represent staff, don’t use models or random people, use AI generated portraits.

generated.photos — amazing service. Costs a little money.

thispersondoesnotexist.com — simple, free.

ThisMPDoesNotExist — simple, free; for when you want that ‘in suit’ portrait.

Free and paid mixed sites

sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up — a multiple-site search.

thenounproject.com — amazing icons and stupidly cheap if you choose the paid licence.

shutterstock.com — good, but free options are unclear.

dreamstime.com/free-photos — some free. Check the costs of the paid ones.

vecteezy.com — super complete graphics, some free.

pikwizard.com — new to me; impressed by the quality of office type photos.

Great pay-once royalty free stock image sites

tonl.co — great. Take a look at what ‘commercial’ means when deciding how much to pay. I expect your intranet falls under the commercial licence.

istockphoto.com — great graphics and photos, good value prices.

storyblocks.com — good graphics and photos, good value prices.

123rf.com — good graphics and photos, good value prices.

flaticon.com — good icons. Check payment settings.

Reverse look up

When someone sends you a photo and you suspect it’s been downloaded without permission or payment, use the image file to find the original.



I beg you to learn the Creative Commons ‘copyright system.

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