Sourcing Images for Graphic Design

DSC01582Obtaining images to design your blog or other projects is easier than you think. Sure, you could sift through hundreds of less than relevant photos on Google's image search, but here are some inexpensive and free (free!) alternatives I found (feel free to add to this list in the comments):

iStockPhoto: Become a contributor and earn royalty-free photos. Alternatively, pay for credits and buy the images you want. 1 credit = $1, and photos ranges from 1-10 credits. Becoming a contributor means registering with your name and address, reading through their requirements, taking a quiz, uploading a copy of your identification, and 3 samples of your work, then accepting their terms. If you get beyond that point, your photos could earn you money.
Currently iStockPhoto is holding a "Dollar Bin" sale: all images of any size are, you guessed it: one dollar.

DeviantArt: a community based photo/drawing sharing website. Images are sometimes of substandard quality, however, much like a thrift store, if you dig, you'll find workable graphics for the web. Be sure to read the terms for re-use and/or re-sale, and permissions if you are planning to alter the graphic.

dreamstime: Very much like iStockPhoto, but claims to have the lowest prices and for the photographers, pays 50-65% for quality work.

Robin Good has put together an amazing list of sources as well. Though the list is over a year old, the advice is solid and most, if not all of the links are in working order. The list he has compiled is complete with information, including positive points and pitfalls about each one.

Corbis is more pricey, but offers users a membership fee for access to 1000's of photos, including some of Hollywood's biggest stars, and filmmakers work in their motion section. With access to big names like Paramount Pictures, Oxford and Hearst, you get more than what you pay for here.

There are alot of choices out there, and if you are able to contribute as well, you may find yourself able to buy a better camera eventually.

But how about FREE?

Here's a list of free photo sources for you:

AMG Media

Art Favor

ARS Image Gallery

Amazing Textures

Burning Well

Big Foto

Buzz Net

Barry’s Free Photos - Free Stock Photos

Creating Online


Creative Commons Search

Copyright Free Photo Archive

DHD Multimedia Gallery

Every Stock Photo

Free Photographs

Free Digital Photos

Free Images and Stock Photos

Free Photos Dot Com

Free Photos Bank

Free Stock Photos Dot Com

Free Media Goo

Free Stock Photos

Free Foto

From Old Books


Holy Land Photos

Image Base

Image After

Lycos Image Gallery

Morgue File

Majestic Imagery


Pixel Perfect Digital

PD Photo

Photo Rogue


- Closed for relaunch Summer 2006


Picture Station


Stock Xchng (my personal favorite for free images)

Stock Vault




Yellowstone National Park


Of course, you could always take your own pictures.


This is the first in a new series on graphic design. If there's something you would like to see in upcoming columns, please email me at

Contributing Editor Karen Rani also blogs at Troll Baby and owns Troll Baby Graphics.

Photo Credits: Karen Rani


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