Images are key to how your readers perceive your blog.
Just as importantly, the influence continues well after they leave.
High quality, shareable images affect your ability to draw more readers to your post. They can limit or extend the reach of your promotion and therefore your traffic.
Ideally we’d all have access to a stockpile of stunning snapshots we’ve taken ourselves. But we’re unlikely to capture every subject we need for our blog.
So what’s the alternative?
Where CAN you find those perfect shots?
How to Use Photos the Right Way on your Blog
This is the second post of our series ‘How to Use Photos on Blogs – the Right Way’.
We kicked that series off with a post on taking photographs ourselves (including a mammoth free guide and workbook to plan your own photo shoot).
Today, we’ll discuss finding photos to meet your bloggy needs.
I am NOT a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice – check with a copyright lawyer for advice pertaining to copyright.
Where Can I Get Photos for my Blog?
To get a photograph for your blog your main options are:
- Take your own
- Use other peoples
- a) Arrange for someone else to take the shots for you
- b) Use a stock image
The plan your own photo shoot post talks to the first option. In this post we’ll focus on using other people’s photos.
Hiring a Photographer
Hiring a photographer is a good option but you need to make sure they’re capable of meeting your needs.
Research some questions to ask before engaging anyone.
A few topics to get you started are:
A portfolio, testimonials and references will give you an understanding of the photographers body of work and style.
If their portfolio doesn’t contain them, ask to see shots in similar circumstances to what you’ll be expecting for your shoot – e.g. indoors, outdoors, artificial light, products, events, fashion, food etc. How experienced are they?
Be aware that if you’re going through a studio or agency the actual photographer may vary so ask for names and see THEIR work.
Budget and Pricing
Narrow down your options to fit your budget then seek information about what the pricing includes e.g. sitting, print, inclusions and exclusions. Do they have insurance coverage (e.g. liability and equipment)? How much time is allowed and what are the rates for additional time?
What should you expect at each stage (e.g. prior to the shoot, during and afterwards). How much time is required at each phase e.g. how long to turn around proofs and finals?
What software do they use to edit. How many good images can they produce in a given timeframe.
Type of equipment they’ll use (in the wider sense as well e.g. lighting) and availability of back up equipment.
Copyright, royalties and access to print and/or digital files. Do they sell stock photos? If so, talk about making sure yours don’t become stock (so your competitors don’t use them but also, to avoid the temptation for the shot to be made overly generic).
Always make sure you read the contract and clarify any item you are not sure of.
Another area to be mindful of is how well they communicate with you, how comfortable you feel with them. If you can’t connect at the start, it’ll get harder as you go on.
You can also ask the photographer what they need from you in terms of a brief and if there’s anything else they think it’d be helpful for you to know.
Even when asking a friend or relative for help, you need to be clear about how you intend to use the photos so they can consent to the usage.
Tips for Using Stock Photos
In the next post in this series we’ll discuss licenses in more detail.
In the meantime here are some general good practice tips:
ALWAYS CHECK the licences of individual photos and ALWAYS follow the terms correctly.
DON’T ASSUME a collection or curation site has identified the license correctly – check the original.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for educating yourself about licenses, rights, the limitations around usage and the potential consequences should anything go awry.
UNDERSTAND the difference between copyright and other rights (e.g trademark, patent, privacy etc).
The latter point is relevant when you’re looking at how shots are licensed – oftentimes, a license only extends to copyright and separate documents are required for the other aspects.
Also, if you want to sell or distribute products containing an image check the license terms carefully. Many sites allow this but some do not.
Blog cool my friends.
Don’t forget, if it’s not clear or you have any doubt, apply the ‘ask first so I don’t regret it later’ rule.
What are Stock Photos?
Stock photography = supply of photographs.
Stock is usually categorised as being:
- Rights Managed
There are also free images, which includes Creative Commons.
What is Rights Managed Stock Photography vs Royalty-free?
With Rights Managed, an individual licensing agreement is negotiated for each use. There will be restrictions around the usage such as size, placement, duration of use, geographic distribution and so on.
With Royalty-free, the “free” means you don’t pay each time you use an image (i.e. they’re “free from royalties”). It means you can use them for multiple projects, multiple times without additional fees although there will often be some limitations imposed such as the size of your ‘print run’.
Freebies will also usually have rules imposed as to usage.
I’ll be sharing sites where you can find rights managed and royalty-free stock in another post.
Today I’ll be focusing on where you can locate free snaps for your blog.
How to Attribute a Photograph
Best practice attributions generally include the:
I always make an attribution even where it’s not required. It becomes a habit then. I also like giving credit to the artist.
Places to Find Free Photos for your Blog
At the time of this post, each site offers free images you can use on your blog. Some of them also offer images with stricter usage rules or fees.
The sites are a mix of subscription, registration and do nothing to download.
Some of them provide snaps taken by the site owners, some have multiple contributors, some draw the images from other sites.
ALWAYS CHECK the original. Research the person who uploaded it. If they’re not established photographers, if they don’t have a similar body of work etc, you’d be safer to avoid using the pic.
BOOKMARK THIS POST SO YOU CAN COME BACK TO IT WHEN YOU NEED MORE FREE IMAGES FOR YOUR BLOG.
I’ve used a rating system for the overall image quality you can expect from each site:
Every now and then I’ve snuck a “+” sign in where a site sits between two ratings.
01. ANIMAL PHOTOS ★★☆☆
Just can’t wait to get a shot of a smew? Then ANIMAL PHOTOS is the website for you.
Click on an image to see the source and a link to the applicable permissions.
02. BARN IMAGES ★★+☆
Lauunched by Igor Trepeshchenok and Roman Drits, two photographers from Latvia who decided to give their shots away for free. There are other contributors to the site now.
Info relating to usage is found on the Barn Images About page.
03. CAR PICTURES ★☆☆☆
I guess if sometimes you need snapshots of cars then CAR PICTURES is for you. The quality’s mostly on the meh side apart from the odd gem, but you know, cars.
When you select images the license is noted but more importantly, a link is given to the source. Follow the link to check the details for yourself.
04. CREATIVE COMMONS ★☆☆★
CREATIVE COMMONS is a handy tool. It uses the search services of a number of sites including Flickr, Youtube, ccMixter and several more to locate royalty free images.
Amateurs and professionals contribute pictures, so while the quality varies, you will have access to some beauties.
There is no copyright page as such because Creative Commons (CC) accesses other sites to locate images relevant to your search terms.
On the Creative Commons search page it notes “Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license.” It’s up to you to follow the link and find the terms for the pictures you’re interested in.
05. CUPCAKE ★★★★
Jonas Nilsson Lee has 2 related sites – CUPCAKE is where he releases CC0 images. His portfolio (copyrighted) images are on the second website. Cupcake is a small collection.
There’s a link to the copyright deets on the homepage Cupcake.
06. DEATH TO THE STOCK PHOTO ★★★★
DEATH TO THE STOCK PHOTO is a subscription service offering high-quality, uber cool images.
It’s free to sign up and you’ll get a lovely set delivered to your inbox each month.
On the home page footer, Death to the Stock Photo provide an Official License and a ‘plain English’ summary.
07. DESIGNERS PICS ★★+☆
Jeshu John, web designer and developer is responsible for DESIGNERS PICS. At this point in time he is the sole contributer and his offerings are generally lovely.
Refer to the Designers Pics FAQ and Terms.
08. DON’T ERASE ★★★☆
George Yanakiev is the photographer behind DON’T ERASE.
There’s a statement on the Don’t Erase homepage that the images are provided by the photographer to do whatever you want in personal or commercial projects under a CC0 license.
09. EPICVA ★★☆☆
EPICVA have some decent snaps and although not a huge library, has quite a good volume in key categories.
A statement is found on the Epicva homepage. As at 23 Jul 15 it reads – “All photos on Epicva are our property, but anyone can download them and use them for both personal and commercial projects. No attribution needed but much appreciated.”
10. FANCYCRAVE ★★★★
FANCY CRAVE is a contribution site with some gorgeous snaps. They provide the source link through the photographer’s name so don’t forget to follow and check!
See the FancyCrave Terms and Conditions page.
11. FINDA PHOTO ★★★★
FINDA PHOTO is a curation site with a great search function – you can search by color, collection, source or keywords. When you select the photo, the information includes a link to the original source.
Select an image to see the license. Go to the original source to check the permissions there too.
12. FOODIES FEED ★★★☆
FOODIES FEED offers lovely pics of yep, you guessed it, food.
13. FOTER ★☆☆★
Similar to Creative Commons (CC), FOTER hosts over 220 million CC images from several online sources.
There are loads of amateur pics to trawl through. But the range is fantastic so worth a trawl to find the beauties like Krystian Olszanski’s shot of an abandoned grain elevator. You should be able to find pics that aren’t being used by every blogger and their dog.
You need to select the individual shot to see the permissions. The terms are clearly set out once you’ve opened an image. (don’t forget our mantra – follow through my friends – follow through to the source and checkity check check!)
14. FRANKEN FOTOS ★★★★
FRANKEN FOTOS have beautiful images mostly outdoorsy subjects at the moment.
I love Markus Spiske’s photography – which can be viewed on several websites (yay).
Refer to the Frankenfoto Info page for deets about what you’re allowed to do.
Depending on your skill set, you may have to translate the page.
15. FREEEPY ★★★☆
FREEPY has a small collection of nice images.
There’s no license as such but on the homepage and the Freeepy About page, there is a statement “Free photo for comercial use. Use them anyway you want, but not for sale. Photo by Pavel Barysevich”
16. FREE IMAGES.com ★☆☆☆
FREEIMAGES.COM is another stocky stock site but it’s got a large library and some great search tools. You need to provide an email and register to download (which is free).
Amateur pics, but again, the volume means you’ll probably find something other bloggers aren’t using.
A neat feature is that when you search, a counter appears showing how many freebies that search will result in.
The FreeImages.com content agreement is clear and well set out.
A neat feature on this and a few other sites is that when you select an image, you can also see details about the shot (aperture, lens, camera type etc).
17. FREE IMAGES.co.uk ★☆☆☆
FREEIMAGES.CO.UK is your standard stock website. It’s got some interesting categories but the multi-level sub-categories can be annoying.
Lots of amateur pics to trawl through but they have a good (and apparently exclusive) range.
18. FREE MEDIA GOO ★☆☆☆
FREE MEDIA GOO don’t have a large collection of images but they have a few textures and backgrounds that extend the usefulness of the site.
19. FREE NATURE STOCK ★★★☆
FREE NATURE STOCK offers just that – free and lovely nature shots.
The Free Nature Stock About page provides a link to the CC0 license. It’s on the header as well.
20. FREE PHOTO BANK ★★+☆
21. FREERANGE ★☆☆★
FREERANGE are another stock website. They require you to register (it’s free) to download the images. You can search and see the photos before you register so you can always browse first.
22. FUNCTION ★★+☆
FUNCTION is a design blog by Liam McKay.
Liam proclaims not to be a photographer but has some nice snaps available in the packs he’s put together. There are only a few but it’s worth seeing if something suits you.
Liam has made statements about usage in the Function photo volumes.
23. GET REFE ★★★☆
GET REFE has a small but useful and lovely collection.
Check the Get Refe License.
The process to get a picture is convoluted but the quality may be worth the pain. You have to go through a checkout system and after providing your email the photos then become available for download. You DON’T need to create an account.
24. GRATISOGRAPHY ★★★★
GRATISOGRAPHY offers quirky, witty, high-res photos that are free to download. Ryan McGuire whose site this is, is also the creative and his images are fab.
Ryan has licensed the Gratisography images under Creative Commons Zero.
25. IMAGEBASE ★★☆☆
IMAGEBASE have the more traditional stock offerings – this free site tries to emulate the sorts of pics you’d get at a stock site.
26. ISO REPUBLIC ★★★★
ISO REPUBLIC was set up by Tom Eversley, to help “designers and marketers who may be working on small or independent projects, and don’t have the budget for high-quality photography”.
The usage deets are found on the ISO Republic terms page.
27. JAY MANTRI ★★★★
JAY MANTRI offers interesting, graphic pics on this Tumbler blog.
A link to usage information is found on the Jay Mantri home page. As at 23 Jul 15, Jay has dedicated his work on the site to the public domain.
The archive has a handy layout for seeing images quickly.
28. JÉSHOOTS ★★+☆
JÉSHOOTS have a small collection but they might have something that’s right for you. There are pics you have to pay for as well but they’ve got a watermark so it’s easy to see those ones.
A link to copyright info is found on Jéshoots FAQ. As at 23 Jul 15, the images are licensed under a public domain dedication.
29. KABOOMPICS ★★+☆
KABOOMPICS offer a wide range of good quality content.
Refer to the KaboomPics Terms.
30. LIBRESHOT ★★☆☆
LIBRESHOT has a smallish but interesting range including a category of close up/macro shots taken by photographer Martin Vorel.
The terms are found in several places on the site Terms of Service & License Information page.
31. LIFE OF PIX ★★★★
LIFE OF PIX is by Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal so there are plenty of images that will serve your promotional efforts well.
The Life of Pix homepage provides a link to the allowances info.
32. LITTLE VISUALS ★★★☆
LITTLE VISUALS has 13 packs to download. It was a subscription service but there’s been a note on the site for some time now that the owner has since passed away. The family have left the site up as a means to raise awareness and donations for a charity.
The Little Visuals home page links to the applicable public domain license.
33. LOCK & STOCK PHOTOS ★★+☆
LOCK & STOCK PHOTOS is a project of AJ Montpetite who wants to replicate the open source model to share and help other interwebby peeps.
There’s a good selection of background-esque items.
The use details are on the Lock & Stock Photos About page.
34. MAGDALEINE ★☆☆★
MAGDALEINE is a curation site. There’s a cool function where you can search by color – a couple of other places have the same ability which is handy dandy for us bloggers.
On the Magdaleine homepage you can choose a filter on the right-hand sidebar for CC0 items or Attribution. When you hover over a picture an icon appears. But it’s not until you select an individual picture that the icons become hyperlinked and you can check what you are allowed to do or not do with the image.
35. MMT ★★★☆
MMT is the site of Jeffrey Betts (a user interface and experience designer). He provides his own images – mostly outdoors (nature) pics at the moment.
There’s a link to the copyright deets on the homepage MMT.
36. MORGUEFILE ★★☆☆
MORGUEFILE has a wide range of generally good quality content.
Once you click on an image you can double-check the individual licensing deets. There’s also a note as to whether a model or property release have been obtained.
37. MOVEAST ★★+☆
João Pacheco is behind MOVEAST. He decided to share images from travelling and moving cities with others for free.
There’s a statement on the home page that the pictures are dedicated CCO although there’s no hyperlink. The text in various places also confirms the CC0 status but as with the other sites, do check when you visit just in case anything has changed.
38. NASA ★★★★
I love the NASA photographs and graphics. Quality is high. It’s freaking NASA baby.
Check the NASA free resources policies for info on what you can or can’t do.
39. NEW OLD STOCK ★★★★
Released by the Catherine M. Rooney, 6th grade teacher instructs her alert pupils on the way and how of War Ration Book Two, U.S. National Archives on Flickr (sourced via New Old Stock), copyright info
NEW OLD STOCK offers gorgeous vintage and historical snapshots ‘free of known copyright restrictions’.
The images are loaded on the basis that they’re apparently free of copyright restrictions, refer to the New Old Stock Rights and Usage page for more information. On that basis however, don’t make an assumption based on an assumption my friend. When you select an snap you can access the source to double-check the licensing yourself.
40. PEXELS ★★★★
Refer to the Pexels licensing page.
41. PHOTOBER ★★☆☆
PHOTOBER offers a broad range of nice quality, stock.
42. PHOTO EVERYWHERE ★★☆☆
PHOTO EVERYWHERE provides travel stock with several (fun) ways to search and find the right picture for you.
43. PHOTOGEN ★☆☆☆
PHOTOGEN started as a commercial stock website in 2004 but changed to a free site in 2006. Consequently, it has a huge library of stocky stock stock variety.
44. PHOTOPIN ★☆☆★
PHOTOPIN is another search site that draws results from other sources.
The search results are from multiple sites so there’s high volume, variable quality. But as with other such services, the inconvenience of trawling can be offset by the convenience of checking many sites at once.
There’s a link to an infographic which is credited with describing the laws, terms and ethics of imagery-use. Just be cautious with these sorts of resources, if you’re unfamiliar with the topic yourself, it’s difficult to discern the validity of its content. I’m not saying it’s inaccurate! That’s just a general caution – you’re responsible for what goes on your site.
45. PHOTOS PUBLIC DOMAIN ★☆☆☆
PHOTOS PUBLIC DOMAIN is a family-owned website which offers picturess the family themselves have taken.
Amateur pics but there’s a huge variety and sometimes you want ‘family album’ piccys.
Info about what you can do with the piccys are on the Photos Public Domain FAQs although the terms are repeated throughout the site.
46. PICJUMBO ★★★☆
PICJUMBO is a project by web designer Viktor Hanacek.
Viktor is very clear and specific about the Picjumbo usage rights (which are very wide).
47. PIXABAY ★☆☆★
PIXABAY offers thousands of images by various contributors.
While many are amateur, there are enough great shots to make it worth your while.
Copyright info is on the homepage as wells as the Pixabay Terms of Service page. There are also some FAQs to provide additional explanation.
48. RAUMROT ★★★★
RAUMROT is a collection of sets and stock pictures.
A link to the license is on the Raumrot homepage.
49. RGB STOCK ★★☆☆
RGB STOCK a huges library. You need to register (free) to download anything.
The quality varies but is mostly very good.
The copyright information is provided in several places including the RGB License page.
50. SKITTERPHOTO ★★★★
SKITTERPHOTO have some gorgeous offerings and a great range.
51. SKUAWK PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTOS ★★★★
SKUAWK have some funky snaps on their curation site. The menu runs horizontally so drag/swip left or right or use your keyboard arrow buttons to navigate.
The copyright information is clearly summarised on the Skuark License page where a link is provided to the detailed version.
52. SPLIT SHIRE ★★★☆
SPLIT SHIRE is graphic designer and photographer Daniel Nanescu’s site from which he shares his own work for free.
When you click on a snap, the Split Shire terms appear.
The lovely Daniel also offers a premium service with a twist – you can request he take a shot to meet your requirements – although he does note that as he lives in Italy it might be tricky taking shots in Dubai unless you sponsor him 😉
53. STARTUP STOCK PHOTOS ★★★☆
STARTUP STOCK PHOTOS is a library of “startup-focused” products created the team at Sculpt.
I couldn’t find any information on the Startup Stock site about who it was run by, what the terms were etc. A separate search turned up the info about Sculpt and a link to their site on which the allowances are explained (somewhat) –Sculpt FAQs.
54. STOKPIC ★★★☆
STOKPIC have lots of categories to browse including technology and food and drink.
They’ve got a cool extra little search filter where you can search by emotion.
55. STOCKSNAP ★★★★
STOCKSNAP is a curation site. They’ve kept the quality high.
Here’s the link to the StockSnap License.
56. STREETWILL ★★★★
STREETWILL have a wide-range of cool shots.
There’s a link to the Streetwill photo terms on the home page side navigation menu (you may have to scroll the menu to see it).
57. SUPERFAMOUS ★★★★
SUPERFAMOUS are gorgeous studies of nature and man made creations.
Refer to the Superfamous About the Images link.
58. THE GETTY ★★★★
THE GETTY has some amazing items. If something is available under the Open Content Program, it will have a download button.
59. TOOKAPIC ★★★★
TOOKAPIC have some lovely snapshots you can filter for freebies.
60. TRAVEL COFFEE BOOK ★★★★
TRAVEL COFFEE BOOK have a lovely, mostly travel-related collection.
Refer to the Travel Coffee Book homepage for a link to the applicable licensing information.
61. UNSPLASH ★★★★
You can subscribe to UNSPLASH to get sent 10 stunning snaps every 10 days. Or you can download from the archives. (the search button can be hard to spot – it’s the magnifying glass just at the top left of the first image)
The Unsplash License is currently CC0.
62. UNRESTRICTED STOCK ★★★☆
UNRESTRICTED STOCK are created by Agency Dominion and include some unique offerings like piccys of scenery and hand-drawn vectors.
Check the Unrestricted Stock use agreement.
63. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS ★☆☆★
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS is a database of over 26 million items.
The Wikimedia reusing content page provides comprehensive information (as expected) on what you can and can’t do with those items.
– – – – –
That’s it for now my friends. I’ve slammed some keywords in this here mammoth post.
I’ll add more resources over time.
And just so you don’t forget … let’s sing it on outta here – chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self.
Have fun creating guys!
– – –
If you think the info on this lil’ post is helpful, please share it with others you think might find value in it.