Sourcing Free High-Quality Stock Imagery

Finding good stock photos is a little bit like Black Friday shopping, there are too many options and most of them are bad. It’s an art to find the gems that are of great quality at a reasonable price. Dustin Semos was kind enough to compile Stock photos that don’t suck — a list of places to find the best free stock photos.

Below I’m building on his list and present each site with some descriptions and examples.

Little Visuals

Little Visuals publishes 7 high-res images every week and offers an email subscription so you don’t miss out on any new photos.



Unsplash publishes 10 photos every 10 days.


Death to the Stockphoto

This is strictly an email subscription service without an accessible collection at the time of this writing. After signing up you will receive an image pack every month. 


New Old Stock

New Old Stock is a great source for vintage photos free of copyright restrictions.


Superfamous (attribution required)

Photos in the Superfamous library are published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.


(Photos by Folkert Gorter)


PicJumbo organizes its library into categories which makes searching and browsing very easy. PicJumbo also offers a paid subscription with access to additional photos. 


The Pattern Library

A growing collection of beautiful patterns.

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A large collection of photos with new additions on a weekly basis.



GetRefe features photos taken with mobile phones. 


IM Free (attribution required)

IM Free features a photo catalog that is categorized and searchable, but also icons and website templates.


(Photos: left: Base by Instant Vantage, top-right: Father and Child by gaggles, bottom-right: Macbook Computer by VFS Digital Design)

Bonus: Public Domain Archive

The daily growing archive of public domain photos broadly categorized into modern and vintage with search functionality.


Bonus: The Noun Project (attribution might be required)

A significant collection of vector icons many available for free, some require attribution or a small fee.

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Sourcing Clips for VJing

Paid resources

If you do commercial work and/or are looking for a specific clips that you can’t find on the free market, the following resources might be of help.

VideoHiveVoila Capture2014 05 01 08 32 37 PM

Envato’s marketplace is a great location for affordable videoclips, after effects templates and stock footage.


Voila Capture2014 05 01 08 34 24 PM

A great resource for double-wide or triple-wide projection setups. Focussed on churches, but also non-church performers can find some good footage. At the time of writing clips cost $12USD and for that price come in HD, double-wide and triple-wide resolutions.

Pond5Voila Capture2014 05 01 08 41 17 PM

Pond5 offers stock-video usually under $100USD.


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VideoBlocks offers access to their entire library for a monthly fee ($79USD a the time of writing).


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iStock offers high quality footage at high quality prices. 


Free resources


Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons (CC) licenses have become a popular copyright licenses that gives the author protection of their work while still allowing others to use it within certain limits. This is good news for artists trying to sample, remix or incorporate media into their own work.

Creative Commons currently offer six licenses:

Four out of the 6 allow remixing and with that are perfect for VJs. Two don’t, so make sure you steer clear of clips using those.


Remix-friendly licenses

88x31 Attribution (CC BY)

This license allows you to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the original, even commercially, as long as you credit the author for the original creation.

88x31 1 Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

This license is identical with the one above, but requires you to share your work under the same license.

88x31 2 Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

This is the attribution license limited to non-commercial work.

88x31 3 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

This requires attribution, only non-commercial use and requires you to share your work under the same license.

For non-commercial VJ sets all of these are an option and will open up a larger pool of media when searching the sources below.

For commercial use the first two still provide great options. 

I usually start searching for (CC BY) and then expand from there. 


Non-Remix-Friendly licenses

There are two licenses that do not permit remixing (No derivative works). In most cases these won’t work for a VJ setup and I recommend steering clear of them.

88x31 4 Attrribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)

88x31 5 Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)


Free Video Sources


Vimeo let’s you filter by any or all Creative Commons licenses as well as for downloadability.



YouTube gives you fewer controls, but does offer an extraordinarily large collection of videos. To download a tool like KeepVid will be needed.

Wikimedia Commons:VideosVoila Capture2014 05 01 03 14 55 PM

Wikimedia has a good collection of videos from the Wikipedia universe that is full of interesting short clips and video footage.

Voila Capture2014 05 01 08 01 57 PM is a large library of media in the public domain or otherwise free to use. It is great for vintage finds. Dario Salvi recommends the Prelinger collection and the Ephemeral library.


Voila Capture2014 05 01 08 09 06 PM

Beeple aka Mike Winkelmann is a generous 3d video artist and a VJs best friend. His always growing collection of mesmerizing 3d video loops will have something for you. 

A/V Geeks

Voila Capture2014 05 01 08 18 12 PM

A/V Geeks is another great place for vintage footage. 


Voila Capture2014 05 01 08 19 17 PM

Videopong is VJ specific and offers a collection of VJ loops. 


Voila Capture2014 05 01 08 23 24 PM

This video loop store has a special giving away 10 high quality loops a day. 


For a few more free resources, check out Dario Salvi’s list of free resources.


Learning Regex

Regex, Regexp or Regular expressions are a special syntax used in programming to search for patterns in a text. They are often used to validate form input, or for intelligent search and replace. The Regex markup looks very complicated as it is often a long string of characters.

This Regex pattern validates the US-postal code format

Regex itself follows a very logical pattern and can be very powerful and much easier than other attempts at parsing text. Whether you need simple format conversion (US to European numbers, “–” to “—”), email address validation in web forms, or validate if the password your users create matches your required format, Regex can be of help.


Watch Lea Verou’s Talk

The internet is full of resources for learning this wizardry. A good starting point is Lea Verou’s celebrated presentation at O’Reilly’s Fluent Conference 2012: /Reg(exp){2}lained/: Demystifying Regular Expressions

Try it out at Regexplained

She also created Regexplained, a nifty tool to help you learn.

Learn it step by step at RegexOne

Regex One

RegexOne is a short little course that helps you earn Regex with simple, interactive examples and a comprehensive list of exercises.


HTML5 Pattern

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Learn from and build on existing patterns at 

HTML5 Pattern

Mozilla Developer Network – Regex Reference

The group at mozilla has put together a Regex reference that will come in handy, especially if you work with JavaScript.


Oyster ($4.99)


Oyster calls itself an IDE for Regex. It serves as a reference, a development environment as well as a library for your Regex patterns. It also allows you to export your patterns for a large number of programming languages. (Unfortunately Regex has been implemented slightly different across languages). You can get Oyster on the Mac App Store. 

Reggie (Free)


Reggie is an open-source Regex tester/viewer.


Too complicated?

Try VerbalExpressions by Jehna. VerbalExpressions create RegEx using natural language in JavaScript.


Have you used Regex?

What was your experience? How did you learn it? Do you find it useful?