Switching Up: Making Morguefile my Primary Stock Photo Site


I’ve always viewed prevent content misuse as a two-way street, one side is helping content creators protecting and licensing created content and the other is helping those wanting to use content find works they can use legally. This has been a big part of why I am a supporter of Creative Commons and of other efforts to connect users and creators.

As part of this, I have made it one of my focuses to help content creators find good, legal content to use on their sites. So much so that I made it the focus of my talk at WordCamp Dallas 2009.

One of the recommendations I have repeatedly made was the use of Stock.xchng for free stock images. I continued with this recommendation even after Getty purchased Stock.xchng, even though the purchase made me uneasy.

Though I still think Stock.xchng is a great site for its purpose, it no longer is my favorite tool or my first recommendation. Instead, I’m not now putting my focus on Morguefile, a free stock photo site that is simply a better alternative for most bloggers and other content creators.

Specifically, there are three reasons why I made this choice:

  1. Better Licensing: The licensing on Stock.xchng is not longer consistent and many photographers demand additional steps be taken before using an image. While this is their right, the lack of consistent licensing makes it much more difficult to find images. This was a problem I talked about in March and Morguefile’s one license just works better.
  2. More Tools: Morguefile makes it possible to resize and crop images on the site, making it faster to get images in the size/format needed.
  3. Better Search: Though I really can’t pinpoint the reason for this, the search in Morguefile seems to work better for me. Despite the fact it has a smaller library than Stock.xchng, I seem to get more usable and relevant results with each search.

This is not to say that Morguefile is perfect. It does have a smaller library than Stock.xchng, about 250,000 images to their 400,000 (Morguefile numbers based on not filtering image results) and the ads can be a bit aggressive at times, even though I find them less annoying than the deceptive “premium listings” on Stock.xchng.

For me, Morguefile is now my default stock image site and Stock.xchng will be the backup. It will also be my default recommendation.

That being said, everyone should use what works best for them, but I think Morguefile is the one that will best suit most people I work with.

My only regret is not starting sooner and not taking a closer look at Morguefile after receiving several recommendations to try it. To those of you who did suggest it previously, I apologize for my stubbornness.

I won’t be so daft about recommendations in the future.

On that front, I want to open the door to anyone with recommendations for services to license or find content to use. I’ve covered many here but I know there are others I’m not aware of so, if you have one in mind, please feel free to drop me a line below.

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  1. Lots of things to consider when it comes to this complicated process… one wrong move, and bad things can happen. Based on your advice, I am going to research Stock.xchng.

  2. Stock.xchng have changed their domain name to sxc.hu and then to freeimages.com now. But anyway, I don’t understand how their premium listings are “deceptive”, according to you? They clearly separate the premium listing from the free one, and they clearly label it as “premium results”. So what’s deceptive about that? Just curious.

    • Alan,

      This post is rather old, from 2010. The display has changed some. Initially especially it wasn’t as clear which were premium and which were free. The other issue is what happens when SXC turns up no results from its database and only displays premium results.

      Even now there could be greater visual separation between the two, even if it is better than it was.