Morguefile Review

Morguefile Review 4It seems like these days everyone is aiming for bigger, bolder, and more expansive … aiming to offer their users as many stock image choices as possible in hopes that something will stick. Meanwhile, anyone on the hunt for free quality stock photos just wants to find their image, smash the download button, and be done with it.

Morguefile is different. Their simple yet functional approach to integrated social media makes searching for free stock photography an absolute pleasure. It also redefines the way that designers can establish relationships with the artists behind the images, which is a community-focused feature that not many stock sites offer (and very few of those who do manage to pull it off).

As a creative type yourself, you are probably already having a reaction to the name of this particular stock photo site. While it might seem strange at first, the term “morgue” was once used in the newspaper industry to refer to a file where post production materials can be stored. Over the years, the term has come to be used by illustrators, teachers, and designers as well, and therefore seem to be the perfect fit for a stock image collection like this one.

Morguefile: General Overview

  • “By creatives and for creatives” … a popular stock image destination for almost 25 years
  • Stock photo library that can be filtered by date added, most downloaded, overall popularity, and more
  • Built-in social media function allows users to follow and message other users
  • On board cropping tool can help make pictures the perfect size and framing before saving them to your computer
  • Morguefile stock images are keyword-tagged for added search convenience
  • #Quest Photo Request System lets users and contributors track new images as they arrive
  • User accounts are free and can be setup in less than a minute
  • Direct-link downloads make Morguefile one of the quicker, easier stock image sites on the web
  • Social media sharing option allows stock images in the collection to be immediately shared vis Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more with the single click of the mouse
  • Each stock image in the collection is displayed with its likes, views, downloads, and comments, so it is possible to see how other people are reacting to the content
  • A more social, engaging experience than simple image aggregators

Deep Dive: What MorguefileIs All About

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Morguefile is a welcomed evolution of the traditional stock photo sharing site, as demonstrated by the highly functional yet stunningly simple social media integration. While there are many stock photo providers that have some form of social media built-in to their system, very few of them are doing it as well as Morguefile, whose development team clearly appreciates the value of a clean, functioning library.

In terms of crowd-sourced stock photography, Morguefile is one of the best out there. Signing up as a contributor only takes a few minutes, and for users looking for content it is possible to follow, message, and collect images from individual contributors. It is easy to see why this would be helpful for creative types: sometimes finding an image that truly speaks to your project makes you want to reach out to the person that made it possible.

Yet it is the #Quest feature that truly sets Morguefile apart from the rest, and it is also a demonstration of just how useful their social mechanics of their system is. Here’s how it works: the folks at behind the curtain decide on a quest topic and then release it on a near-daily basis. Then, Morguefile registered users can go out “on assignment” to try to capture an image with that subject or theme. Users will compete with each other for the most likes, but the real winner is the Morguefile image library which grows exponentially with each challenge.

The free stock photo library at Morguefile cannot be sorted by category or topic, rather, the images are linked to a set of specific keywords that are set by the contributor and then modified or expanded, if necessary, by the user base. It’s a bit different, but it means that all you have to do is start punching in keywords of what you’re looking for, and the relevant images will come pouring in.

Comparing Morguefile to Other Free Stock Image Sites

The biggest advantage of the Morguefile design compared to other stock photo sites is the simplistic but highly functional social media functions. Not only does this mean being able to one-click-share any photo via your favorite social media platform, but it also refers to the built-in user system, complete with likes, messaging, and “favorites” boxed where users can bookmark content for later.

However, The #Quest aspect of Morguefile is most certainly the coolest and most unique part about the site. In a way it gamified the photo collection process, and the result is a fun way to engage with a rapidly growing stock image library, even if you don’t have a specific project in mind.

If there is anything that Morguefile lacks compared to its competitors, it is the ability to sort the library by category, topic, or theme, which seems to be quite standard for both free and paid stock image services alike. Users tend to like the idea of “collections” because it makes it much easier to look through troves of images trying to find the perfect one.

Morguefile’s keyword system seems to be a pretty good alternative to the collection-based system, though, the only difference being that you need to start with a few good keywords.

What Kind of Free Stock Photography Can You Find at Morguefile?

There really is no specific type of photography at Morguefile. While some free stock photo providers will differentiate themselves by focusing on a particular topic, feel, or theme for their collection, Morguefile has set itself apart with its simplistic design and highly functional social media system. The images are sorted by keyword, so anyone who knows what they are looking for will be able to cut straight to the point, so to speak.

In addition, the #Quest feature that we talked about above gives registered users the ability to request photos of a certain keyword or topic. For instance, if you are putting together a social media campaign that is all about aardvarks, you can submit a request on the Morguefile website. If it is chosen as one of the daily challenges, then users from all over the world will be submitting their best aardvark photos in an effort to be the Quest Leader, earning themselves valuable exposure in the process.

In all, it is a fun and highly creative way for Morguefile to keep their system of contributors active and engaged.

Morguefile: Who This Free Stock Photo Site is Perfect For

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The fresh and frequently updated image library at Morguefile makes it one of the few stock media providers that designers, marketing directors, and any other creatives would do well to add to their bookmarks.

By checking in frequently, engaging with the built-in social media functions, and submitting image requests to the innovative #Quest system, it is possible to stay on top of all the new images coming in and perhaps find the perfect one for your purposes.

It is also an effective place for photographers and visual artists to develop a following and engage with designers directly, while also competing against one another for the coveted title of Quest Leader, significantly expanding their exposure to the wider user base.

A Breakdown of Licensing Options

All of the images available in the Morguefile collection are available to users under a single, failry standard license.

What you CAN do with stock photos from Morguefile:

  • Remix, adapt, or edit the existing work
  • Use the work in personal, educational, or commercial purposes
  • Add logos, text, or other images to the existing image

What you CANNOT do with stock photos from Morguefile:

  • License, transfer, sell, or distribute the as-is image without any alteration
  • Claim ownership of the original-state image

NOTE: According to the stand-alone basis of this license, if you are going to be presenting a Morguefile-sourced image without any alterations or modifications, then it is required that you credit the original photographer as well as the Morguefile website (e.g., Photo by <artist name> at

What Your Get as a Registered User of Morguefile

Registering to be an official user of Morguefile is not required in order to access the free stock image library; all anyone needs to do to start downloading is agree to their terms of service. However completing the user registration gives you access to the very best features that the site has to offer, and for no charge whatsoever.

Registered users can start bookmarked collections, follow their favorite contributors, comment or like individual images, or even send messages to other users. This is a particularly helpful and engaging feature for image contributors, who can use the platform as a means to increase exposure, build their social media presence, and practice their craft in an open, conversation-based environment.

Premium Offerings

If you’ve spent anytime browsing around the Morguefile website, you’ll notice that there are icons and tabs that direct the user to videos, vector images, and graphic design templates. While these options look as if they are built-in to the Morguefile website, they are actually links to subscription-based services by the “big boys” like iStock, Adobe, and more.

This is a fairly common practice for free stock photo collections, as it allows them to keep the bills paid and it is a natural convenience for creatives on the hunt for content. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to determine whether or not you are still on the Morguefile site, so there is very little chance of confusion.

Price Structure

There is nothing to pay for on Morguefile … all the images are 100% free of charge and can be used in both personal and commercial applications. However, the website serves as an affiliate for some of the larger, more comprehensive stock providers out there like Getty and Adobe, so it is entirely possible to be whisked away to one of those other paid sites.

Using Morguefile to Source Free Stock Images

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Searching and downloading the Morguefile library is a piece of cake. You can either scroll through the entire collection from the landing page, or simply type a desired keyword or two into the search bar and see what comes back.

Downloading an image only requires three clicks: one on the image itself, one on the “download” button, and one in the terms of service checkbox. At that point you will receive a discount code for one of their sponsors, as well as a dialogue box asking where you want the file saved. It’s that easy.

Becoming a Morguefile Contributor

While all of the Morguefile features that we have looked at thus far make it an ideal image source for anyone who is working on a visual project, those same features are what makes it a popular destination for socially minded photo contributors who are looking for a venue to build a following, hone their craft, and have a bit of fun in the process.

Becoming a contributor requires a free registration, as each upload requires agreeing to the terms of service. Anyone who has worked as a photo contributor knows that licensing terms differ greatly from site to site, and Morguefile is no exception. You can the full contributor agreement within the wider Morguefile terms of service.


While every stock photo resource on the web has been focusing on making their libraries as expansive and impressive as possible, there is only one that we can think of that has taken the time to make theirs engaging on the most basic of levels.

Morguefile’s social mechanics make it possible for image seekers and image creators to share the same digital space and interact with one another in a meaningful way. It is this relationship that is likely responsible for their ever-growing collection of fresh images and effective stock content.