I know when I first started writing blogs here at Bad Rhino, the process of creating original, attention grabbing visual elements was an overwhelming task for me, as it probably is for many others. The question regarding what images are fair game can be complex and you can’t just grab anything off the internet. If the image is uniquely yours, meaning you captured the photo or created it yourself, you can go ahead and use that on your social platforms at your desire. But beyond that, it can get a little tricky. 

First lets get down to what all of this means.

What is a copyrighted image?

In most cases, when an image is captured, it is copyrighted. This gives the photographer all rights to that photo. If you want to use a copyrighted image, you need to get expressed permission from the owner. There are also fair use images.

What is a fair use image?

A fair use image is a digital image that can be used under certain guidelines. These exceptions include use for education or research, as long as the use does not interfere with the owner’s rights. Basically, fair use grants the public permission to use copyrighted works to be used without the owner’s permission. Under fair use, you want to make sure to provide attribution to the owner. Now this brings us to royalty-free images.

What does royalty-free mean?

A royalty-free image is one that you can use without having to pay royalties. In some cases, you have to pay a one-time fee and then you can use the image as many times as you like.


Here’s a list of websites you can grab royalty-free images from without having to worry about violating copyright laws.


Unsplash has over 1 million free images to choose from that are provided by a community of photographers. 


Under their own license, Pexels offers thousands of free photos. 


Burst is powered by Shopify, an ecommerce platform.


Images sourced from Pixabay are safe to use without permission, even for commercial purposes.


Photos from Kaboompics can be used for commercial and noncommercial use. And although attribution isn’t required it is appreciated.


Canva offers much more than just royalty-free images. This website allows you to create graphics like posters, flyers and cards from their catalog of images.


On Flickr, you can search from thousands of royalty-free images. You can also narrow your search by colors, which can simplify your search.


Shutterstock is a website where you will have to pay a one-time fee. After your free trial, every image you download will cost you a littl under three dollars.


Stocksnap is another free website for free stock photos released under Creative Commons.

10. Freephotos.cc

FreePhotos.cc describes themselves as a “free resource where you can find creative commons photos for your website or print projects.”

With all of these places to find great, high quality royalty-free photos, there is no excuse to run into any copyright issues! Let us know if any of these websites work for your social media marketing plan!