Unsplash: Free, High-Resolution, Royalty-Free Images

UNSPLASH royalty free images

There are numerous places on the web where teachers can go to find royalty-free images that they and their students can use in the classroom as part of educational projects. However, I don’t often hear many educators talk about Unsplash.com. So, if you haven’t heard of it before, pay attention, because this is a good one! πŸ™‚

Unsplash has a very unique business model. Every 10 days they upload 10 free photos to their website. All of the images are free, high-resolution photos that have been submitted, free of any usage restrictions, by established and aspiring photographers. All the images are stunning examples of photography, and you can do whatever you want with these photos with a completely clear conscience.

house on a dock

Not convinced? Here’s what the Unsplash license says:

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

This is what photographers are agreeing to when they submit a photo to Unsplash.com. So, why would they do such a thing? Each image includes the name of the photographer when you hover over it with your mouse, and when you click on it you will often find a link to their website or online portfolio. Seems fair, right? Not all photographers are a fan of this idea, but everyone that submits photos knows what they are giving up, and it is in return for more publicity.

Of course, even though you don’t need to cite an Unsplash image, it doesn’t mean you can’t. Citing your sources is always the best habit to develop with students, and absolutely one that should be taught in school as part of a digital citizenship program. Kathy Schrock wrote about this recently for eSchool News, so take a look at that article if you need a refresher or some tips on how to properly cite images found online.

plane from upsplash

The only real downside to Unsplash for educators is that the images are NOT sorted, categorized or searchable. However, that need not be a deal breaker. The images are handpicked because they are interesting, tell a story, or capture the attention of the viewer with strong visual elements. Photos like these are still very useful for writing prompts, classroom discussions, presentations, blog posts, artistic reinterpretations, app smashing, and more.

On an iPad, you can also save them to the camera roll and bring them into Canva for creative graphic design challenges. Mac, PC or Chromebook users can save them to their hard drive and do the same on Canva.com. What’s more, you can subscribe to the Unsplash website and receive ten new images in your inbox every ten days. See something you like? Save it to a Google Drive folder, an album in your camera roll, or a folder in OneDrive where you can tag it, organize it, and use it over and over again.

bench from unsplash.com

Recently I have been spending some time looking at Morguefile and Pixabay, but Unsplash is definitely one of my new favorite sites for images, despite the lack of search options, simply due to the varietyΒ  and quality of images that are on display. Oh, and in case you were wondering, all the images in this post were sourced from unsplash.com! See how many you can spot in future posts. πŸ™‚

BONUS: If you are looking for more sources for free images, check out this post that the Buffer team put together – 53+ Free Image Sources for Your Blog and Social Media Posts.

UPDATE: Ingo Joseph (@IngoJoseph) told me about Pexels.com. It works the same way as UnSplash. Images on Pexels.com include submissions from Unsplash and other sources, and all photos are licensed under the same Creative Commons Zero license.

12 thoughts on “Unsplash: Free, High-Resolution, Royalty-Free Images”

    1. Yes indeed. I just found out about that one myself. I have updated the article to include a link to Pexels.com. It has a lot of images from Unsplash and other sites, and usefully includes a search function πŸ™‚

  1. I found your blog when I researched the value of Unsplash photos. I’m a university educator and try to use my own photos on my ppt slides. I use all my own photos on my blog (I recently self-published an eBook on this subject) because of the abuses of using supposedly free photos. Snappa blog stated that even Unsplash has photos that still may need attribution and suggest we still research the photo! No thanks, who has time? Anyway, your blog looks great and I look forward to reading more πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Terri. Where can we find your ebook?

      Unsplash is definitely one of my go-to sites for presentation photos. Do you use Pixabay much? That is another of my favorite CC0 sites.

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