Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch anymore? Well, that’s probably true, but if you’re looking for free photos, there’s Unsplash. Created by Crew—a freelancer-client matching agency—Unsplash is a repository of free professional photos. Not only are they free of cost, but free from the shackles of restrictive licensing. In fact. Unsplash photos are governed by the Creative Commons Zero license, which basically means you can do whatever you want with them personally or commercially, without asking permission or giving attribution. Though, since we are all hard-working creatives, we know a little thanks goes a long way, so it’s always a good move to mention or add a link to the photographer.
Aside from licensing and cost, what makes the photos available at Unsplash so great? Besides the obvious lack of cheesy-looking “office personnel” and handshake photos, Unsplash is teeming with quality photographs. The photo submission guidelines steer photographers away from uploading an entire photo series and limits them to 10 submissions in a period (though how long that period is, isn’t clear). The high-quality photos are approved and curated by influential creatives and the best ones make it into the featured collections.
The most important vibe running through Unsplash, though, is the sense of community. Born out of wanting to share unused photos with other creatives, the Crew crew has maintained that “give back” mentality throughout the Unsplash ecosystem. Metadata including camera type, ISO, aperture, and image dimensions is included, and users can add to the searchability by tagging images as they see fit. The site features a “Made with Unsplash” gallery, highlighting the end products created using its no-strings-attached images. In fact, there is even an API for app developers to integrate Unsplash images into their apps.
A successful Kickstarter project brought many of the images together in print form with the Unsplash Book. Billed as the first fully-crowdsourced open book, all design aspects were culled from the community and it features the work of over 120 Unsplash artists. Add to all that the many meetup events around the world, and you see the end results of a group sharing ideas and products for the sake of growing a community together.