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Finding images research guide: Stock Images

What are stock images?

Stock photos/images (stock photography) are professional photographs of common places, landmarks, nature, events or people that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes.

Are Stock Images free?

Searching for free stock photos on the Internet can be difficult. As a general rule, free stock photos are extremely hard to find.

A huge portion of the stock photo market is owned by professional companies like Shutterstock and 123RF, who charge $20 or more for a single photo. Even when you can find free stock photos, most are low resolution, watermarked, or blurry.

The following list provides sources where you can find stock images along with terms and conditions that accompany them. Most of these search engines and websites contain images that are free or are protected by a creative commons license and do not require a citation. But remember, citing is good practice because not only does it attribute credit where it's owed but it also allows you to revisit the original source if need be. Even though in the list below citations might not be necessary, they are always encouraged.

Sources for Stock Images


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