Whether you are blogging, writing articles, or designing a cover for your book, there is nothing that attracts readers more than a fetching image. Eye-catching images not only draw the reader’s attention, they establish a mood, set a tone, and express what you can’t say in words. A great image will also inspire a reader to linger, and to want to learn more about you and what you have written.

Fortunately, finding beautiful images has never been easier – or cheaper. You can, of course, purchase stock photos from any number of services. However, if you are on a limited budget, you can now get great photos for free. These are some of my favorite sites for finding fantastic free images.
1. Morguefile
Morguefile is my first stop when I am hunting for a photo. The quality is excellent, and you don’t need to jump through hoops to download. No registration is required. You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt images. Attribution is not required. Like most other sources for free photos, Morguefile prohibits use of any photo in a stand alone manner. However, unlike other sites, you are free to use photos for commercial purposes (e.g. the cover of your book).

PictureSpilled Milk by Alecsandro Andrade de Melo
2. Stock.xchnge
Stock.xchnge, owned by Getty, has an enormous selection of good quality photos – 398,876 photos as of this morning.  You can use all of their images for non-commercial purposes, but be sure to check the “restrictions” tab if you plan on using an image for a book cover or on anything else that you sell. Stock.xchnge also hosts a blog, tutorials and other perks for photographers. Be careful when searching! The top line of photos (and they are always gorgeous) are not free. 

Picture© Jamie Wilson | Dreamstime Stock Photos
3. Dreamstime
Dreamstime has over 790,000 images. It’s a little harder to search than either Morguefile or Stock.xchnge, and registration is required. But once you figure out how to use this site, there are riches to be had. Attribution and a link back is required. The maximum number of copies allowed for free images is 10,000.

4. Kozzi
Kozzi offers over 100,000 free photographs. Compared to Dreamstime, it’s easy to navigate. You have to register to use the site, but registration is free.  One advantage of this site is that there are  various size options for photographs. Commercial usage is allowed! (Check their FAQs.)

5. Free Range Stock
Freerange has an eclectic mix of photos, from abstract paint spatters to squirrels. They post their newest photos on the first page, which makes for an interesting introduction to the site. You can search by category, and by most popular and newest. You must register to download. Commercial use is not allowed. Freerange shares revenue from ads on its site with photographers who submit their photos, which is a nice gesture.

PictureAlien Worlds by micromoth
6. RGB Free Stock Photos
All images on RGB Stock Photos are free for personal and commercial use. (The terms of use for commercial purposes are that you only need to contact the artist for written permission.) Some of these photos are truly captivating. RGB also ranks its photographers, so you can search images by the most popular artists.