Need photos for your website? Below are some ideas on where you can get free or low cost images and some helpful photo formatting guidelines and tips.

Free & Low-Cost Alternatives:

You will find that there are many "free" or "low-cost" photo sources that will allow you to reuse their images. Fortunately, many stock photo companies will "grant you permission" to use their photos provided that you include a line of text to indicate who actually "owns" the photo.

An example of this might be: You can download and use these photos for non-commercial uses provided you properly cite the source - such as:

  • Photo provided by Mass Office of Travel and Tourism
  • © Joe Smith Studios
Overall the two most important things to remember when reusing stock photography are:
  1. It is NEVER appropriate to use photos without the owner's permission
  2. Give proper credit when necessary: follow the instructions provided by the photo's owner in order to properly cite photos

Free Alternatives

Below are two government-owned photo collections that provide free images for download. Some of these photos and images may be used and/or reproduced without permission or fee. However, some photos and images may be protected by license.

***Be sure you read through all disclaimers and fine print on each site before downloading and/or using the photos provided.***

Low Cost Alternatives

If you are unable to find something on one of the "free" sites above, there are many low-cost stock photo sites where you can purchase photos for a nominal fee. For example, istockphoto.com prices their photos based on the specific image you'd like to download ranging from $1 on upward.

Tips for formatting and saving photos for online use

  • Make an untouched copy of the original image before you make modifications
  • Size: be sure to crop the photo to the exact size you want to use on your page. Do not set the image size within the HTML tag. This tag resizing method will distort the image if you don't get the proportions correct.
  • Resolution: images used on the web are meant for viewing on a computer monitor. Save your photos with a 100px (or ppi) resolution or less. Anything with a higher resolution will have a larger file size and will not improve what the customer will see on the screen.
  • The two most widely used online image formats are .jpg and .gif. Each is best suited for a particular type of image or graphic:
    • .jpg is the best format for photos
    • .gif is the best for "colored artwork" like logos, text, illustrations, etc.
  • Additional information on image best practices can be found at Usability.gov.