Keeping it Visual Part I: What is CC0?

Desiree Moore, Graphic/Instructional Designer

In Part I of Keeping it Visual, we’re going to explore stock imagery, including free resources and the magical abbreviation that is ‘CC0.’
 
Later in this series, we’ll look at other ways to visually spice up courses, presentations, and really any other digital medium you can think of! In Part II, we’ll look at building graphics in a variety of programs, and then in Part III, I’ll show you different techniques for using the photos you find and the graphics you make (all chock full of examples, of course)!

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As we all know, finding stock imagery can be expensive, but it can be supplemented by “free” options. If you are able to provide sources and credit in the project you’re building, then there are even more imagery options available to you. Today I wanted to talk about the kind of imagery that everyone can use. That imagery is under the tag CC0.
 
CC0 licenses give creators of the works the ability to waive “all their copyright and related rights in their works to the fullest extent allowed by law.” This allows us to “freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.” Further, under CC0, “You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”  For more information, click here. 
 
I’ve tried plenty of CC0 sites, and six have stayed sticky-noted above my computer the longest. Let’s check out the pros, cons, and how many pictures of puppies and kittens were available on each (to show catalog size, of course!).
 
1) Pixabay: Over 740,000 free stock photos, vectors, and art illustrations

Pros: This CC0 site is my first stop for images I need. They have a huge selection of images that aren’t just nature and objects. They have a large variety of people, and children of all ages, which are often hard to come by. I find what I need here most of the time.
Cons: Users are allowed to upload, so sometimes lower-quality graphics come up in searches.
Puppy + Dog Count: 12,557
Kitten + Cat Count: 12,652

2) KaboomPics: Abstract, city, fashion, food, landscapes, and more

Pros: This one is great because you can sign up for the newsletter and get the newest free images straight to your inbox. A lot of beautiful imagery that is less casual.
Cons: Lacks images of people; not nearly as many as can be found on Pixabay.
Puppy + Dog Count: 27
Kitten + Cat Count: 10

3) ABS Freepic: High-resolution photos similar to Pixabay 

Pros: Similar to Pixabay in its wide variety of pictures. There are people, children, objects. You can find so much here on most any subject!
Cons: Cons: Users are allowed to upload, so sometimes lower-quality graphics come up in searches, but less so than on Pixabay.
Puppy + Dog Count: 2,925
Kitten + Cat Count: 2,846

4) Stockup: Searches from over 13,000 images from across over 25 websites

Pros: Indexes photos from 27 other CC0 sites, so you don’t have to visit each one! This one offers as much variety as the other ‘artsier’ stock photo sites mentioned above.
Cons: Has fewer images than other sites, and fewer people.
Puppy + Dog Count: 228
Kitten + Cat Count: 107

5)    Stocksnap: Hundreds of images added weekly

Pros: Beautiful images of a fairly good variety, including landscapes, business-related imagery, objects, and some conceptual images.
Cons: Like KaboomPics, it’s great on beautiful pics, but can lack in those more casual, less pretty pictures that you may need. If you need a picture of a screwdriver, you would go here for a picture of an artsy screwdriver.
Puppy + Dog Count: 157
Kitten + Cat Count: 101

6) Stokpic: Subscribe-able collection of stock photos

Pros: You can subscribe and get 10 new photos every two weeks, straight to your inbox! You can organize by newest photos, search by categories, and there are people! Beautiful photos.
Cons: More posed than casual.
Puppy + Dog Count: 8
Kitten + Cat Count: 1