Free Stock Photos for WordPress

Anyone who writes a blog has sat in front of their screen thinking “but what this really needs is an image”.

I use images in most of my posts to both of my blogs – this and Food Adventure. Where possible, I use my own images, and for some time I have wanted to improve my own photography and use it more. But sometimes you want an image and either don’t have time, or just can’t figure out how to get the right shot.

This is why people rip off images, which is not right. And I have to admit, I have done it in the past, although it is mostly in the form of using manufacturer’s images on a product I’m describing – I am not sure if that is a valid moral excuse or not, but it certainly isn’t a valid technical one. Plus once you use a couple of “I am sure it is ok to borrow this from Amazon’s website” images, it is then one step away from borrowing others.

It has long been something that bothered me, and sometimes limited what I wanted to do with my blog.

So I am delighted to have come across two wordpress plugins that let you download free stock photos, provided willingly by people for this kind of use.

The two plugins relate to the websites Pexels and Pixabay. Who I believe are now owned by the same company, but are run separately. Both sites host a searchable database of stock photos, submitted by talented photographers, which you can download and use for free. They also both have videos, while Pixabay also has illustrations, vector drawings and music

A few points. Before using the sites, I would advise you read the licences and FAQs. They are in english and easy to explain. There aren’t that many rules

  • Generally, it seems they can be used for both private and commercial use.
  • Pexels, in particular, specifies that they cannot be used for political campaigns or similar.
  • Identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that is offensive.
  • You can’t sell the photos or represent them as your own.
  • However, you can modify the photos and videos from Pexels, to create a new work of art
  • You can only use content by downloading and hosting it yourself (or on social media). No hotlinking is allowed.
  • Content is free.
  • Attribution is not required.

On those last two, although the content is free, they provide a way to tip or donate to a particular contributor, using PayPal. Attribution is not required, but they make it easy to do so – particularly with the plugins, and I think it is only polite. It also settles the question of “where did you get that picture from?”

As for the plugins. You can easily install them in WordPress, by searching plugins for “Pexels” or “Pixabay”. But if you want to download and install manually:

Pexels –

Pixabay –

How they work. Both add themselves to your Media menu, Pexels usefully as “Pexels”, Pixabay as “Download Images”. You have to grab the images separately from writing a post. Select one of the two menu items, and type in a search string. Scroll through the images returned and click on the one you want. It is added to your Media library, from which you can then add it to posts. It automatically populates the image caption with an attribution that mentions the artist, the site and a link to the original image. Of course, you could clear that to get rid of the attribution, but I don’t know why; it gives credit and it looks professional.

I’m going to use these tools in future, where I don’t have a photo of my own to use. I may well find myself following and using particular contributors, in which case I will possibly use the tip jar. Or I may decide instead to contribute pictures myself, if I ever produce anything good enough.

Example images, from Pexels and Pixabay:

Kenneth Carpina at Pexels
Mobile Phone Smartphone Phone  - monika1607 / Pixabay
monika1607 / Pixabay

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