Dieter Petereit August 27th, 2014

Pexels and Travel Coffee Book: Two New Sources for Completely Free Photos

Oops, we did it again. Two more sources for completely free photos have been washed upon the shores of Noupe headquarters. I call them completely free, because both sources chose Creative Commons Zero as their license model. And as we all know, stuff licensed CC0 is free for any legal purpose, not even attribution is required. While Pexels is more of an aggregator of elsewhere already available material, Travel Coffee Book concentrates on collecting travel photography from all over the world. It resembles the popular Unsplash very closely. Both services deserve to be bookmarked. Here's what you can expect...

travelcoffeebook-bolivia Travel Coffee Book: Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Pexels: Aggregator for Free Photos from Reliable Sources

Pexels from Germany is a WordPress-based Service on a mission. It wants to aggregate the best CC0 photos from around the web and regularly monitors sites such as Unsplash, Gratisography or Little Visuals to achieve this. New Images are added after having undergone an editorial process.


At the time of this writing there's just a little over 1,000 photos available on Pexels. 30 photos are promised to be added each week. Accessing the portfolio can be done in several ways. First and most obviously the large endless grid from the landing page lets you scroll through all there is to scroll if you are patient enough. If you're more of the time sparing kind try using the free text search form. Search results are based on tags and these tags are shown with each result, so digging deeper into the offerings by simply clicking any tag is the third way to narrow down the collection. Categorization is not used as a means of navigation, at least not beside the two named "New Photos" and "Popular Photos".

You'll probably ask yourself what sense a site makes that does do little more than replicate already available material from elsewhere. Even more so ass all the aggregated content is from solely CC0 sites. Sounds like the reinvention of the wheel...

The question is perfectly legitimate, yet there is a satisfying answer to it. Pexels actually adds value in more than one way. Compare Pexels with Unsplash and you'll soon agree. Pexels does not rely on a timelined flow of material where photos vanish the older they get with no reasonable way of ever finding them again. Instead Pexels works more like a catalogue where each and every photo is just as easy to search and find as the ones before and after. Another plus for Pexels is the detail page for each image where important image-related information is given. Some of the services they take their pictures from don't offer that - read: Unsplash.

These are a few of the images you'll find:

boat-lake-landing-stage-2535-825x550 asia-buildings-china-2509-733x550 city-harbor-harbour-2604-824x550

The detail pages for the individual images show EXIF data if available, thus allowing you to get to know technical details such as focal length and shutter speed.

Pexels is based on WordPress as CMS, but does not offer the most elemental WordPress feature, namely the collection of comments. Social sharing is limited to Twitter and Facebook. People using Hootsuite or Buffer will not care much ;-)

All in all Pexels is a valuable addition to your designer's toolbox as it simplifies and standardizes the access to a variety of lesser organized services. The services chosen for aggregation are still not superfluous, though. The editorial process leaves most of the material out of Pexels' catalogue. Bookmark it anyway, you won't regret it...

Travel Coffee Book: With Best Regards from Unsplash

Travel Coffee Book resembles Unsplash tightly as a comparison of the landing pages makes obvious:


Just like Unsplash the service is based on Tumblr and just like Unsplash they promise to deliver 10 new photos every ten days. The almost identical look comes due to the fact that both services are built on the High Res Theme, which has been created with publishing large media files in mind.

Similar to Unsplash Travel Coffee Book relies on third parties for the actual hosting of its images. Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive - you name them. Both services allow for the public submission of images which will then probably find their way onto the platforms if editors allow. Accepting CC0 as a license is mandatory for those submitting.

You'd probably not expect it, but there are a few differences between Unsplash and Travel Coffee Book. At the time of this writing Travel Coffee Book actually allows you to download all available images in one file. I didn't try but would not expect less than a full evening's program since all images come in full native resolution.

Contrary to Unsplash Travel Coffee Book has a clear topical focus. It collects nothing else than travel photos, landscapes, cities, alien lands or what else you'd reasonably associate with it. International coverage is already quite good. I found pictures from Europe, Asia, South-America and more.

All images tell the viewer where they were taken while they don't tell who made them. Tags at individual photos can be clicked to search for more photos equally tagged. A dedicated search feature is not available nor is commenting.

Travel Coffee Book offers beautiful travel photos. A lot of which are not only suitable to illustrate travel literature but are generic enough for general illustration purposes.

All the images are completely free and freely usable for any legal purpose with no attribution required. I cannot think of a legit reason to not add Travel Coffee Book to your bookmark collection.

This is what to expect over at Travel Coffee Book:

travelcoffeebook-venetian travelcoffeebook-berlin travelcoffeebook-oia

Dieter Petereit

Dieter Petereit is a veteran of the web with over 25 years of experience in the world of IT. As soon as Netscape became available he started to do what already at that time was called web design and has carried on ever since. Two decades ago he started writing for several online publications, some well, some lesser known. You can meet him over on Google+.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing these Dieter! I am a regular user of Unsplash and Pixabay but I will definitely use these two. Great finds!

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