PicFindr: Free stock photo and image search

    Alex Walker

    (Reprinted from Design View #31)

    Most of us need to use photo stock from time to time and I think this is one of the areas of design that has steadily improved with the passing years.

    Firstly, if you have very specific imagery needs and/or a lack of time, commercial stock houses like Corbis, iStockPhoto, and (sometime Design View sponsor) Fotolia.com have the range, and have become cheaper, more flexible (license-wise) and dramatically more usable over the past 3-4 years. Hurrah for competition!

    But perhaps the least expected development has been the continued rise of free image resource sites. It seems the breathtaking success of Flickr has helped to entrench the idea of sharing your imagery with the world, and free stock sites like SXC.hu, MorgueFile and Image:After have reaped the benefits in the form of an increasing influx of quality imagery from their communities.

    Picfindr.comNow, with the release of Picfindr.com, locating free stock imagery just got easier.

    You could describe Picfindr.com as a free stock site metasearch application, allowing you to query a handful of sites simultaneously, then review the results in a single window.

    Rick Englert, developer of the service, describes it as “minimalist at the moment” — somewhere between alpha and beta — but already it provides a great set of features, including intelligent searching and allowing users to exclude images on the basis of their licensing requirements (i.e. author crediting, altering the image, or permission prerequisites).

    Plans are also afoot for more advanced search options, including ‘AND/OR’ options and the ability to search by color, size or orientation.

    Summary: Picfindr is still a little raw, but already it’s a handy, free service that only seems likely to get better.

    Well worth a look.