Where to Find Images for Blogs, etc. #BloggingTips

Posted by in Writing Tips | 50 comments

How often have you wondered where where to find images for blogs, presentations, or schoolwork? Have you committed any of the following no-nos when it comes to placing images in your posts? Would you like a list of dependable image sources? If so read on. Also, don’t forget about the iPad mini giveaway which ends tonight at midnight PST.

Canon Camera

When I first started blogging, I “borrowed” images from a variety of websites. I fooled myself into thinking it was okay because I always linked the image back to its source. Then in July 2012 read I Loni Loren’s post Bloggers Beware: You CAN Be Sued for using Pics on Your Blog. Suddenly, the side of me trained in research methods felt very, very ashamed. It dawned on me I was being lazy, not to mention I was also being a thief.

What follows is a non-inclusive list of examples of irresponsible image use and a list of websites where you can find images for blogs. A common misconception seems to be if an image on the internet, then it is in the public domain and free to use as you see fit. That is not the case at all.  Various licences dictate how a photo can be used and by whom.

Young Man Negative Face

Where NOT to Find Images for Blogs

Searching Google Images: Any image used should be a primary source. Images returned by search results are secondary sources, not to mention there is no way to tell if the photographer has granted usage permission and what type.

Your Favorite Websites: Many pictures on blogs are not primary sources either, and the blogger has copied and pasted from elsewhere without giving credit. The only exception is when the picture you use is the size of a thumbnail.

Embedding a Picture: By not saving a “borrowed” picture on your computer, you are now also guilty of stealing bandwidth from the server from where you’ve linked to where the picture is actually stored.

Inserting Watermarked Images: Any size picture that is inserted with a watermark on it across the entire face of the image screams HELLO? Obviously, the picture’s owner cares enough to indicate ownership, so hands off!

Picture of daisy flower close-up

Not All Stock Photo Sites are Created Equal

Each collection of photos carries various types of images with varying usage guidelines. Some will specify credit be given, but it is always a good idea to do so, either beneath the picture or at the bottom of the post. Certain sites require the user to create an account, others do not. ALWAYS CHECK EACH SITE’S USAGE GUIDELINES!

Try familiarizing yourself with one or two sites at a time, rather than exploring too many when searching for blog photos. The end of this list also contains a note on fair use and re-sizing images.

Where to Find Images for Blogs (17 sites)

American Memory: Contains vintage Library of Congress Photos. Clunky design.

dreamstime: Appears to contain more paid for than free photos.

Flickr: The Commons contains photos for public use. Offers users 1TB of storage space.

Foter: A WordPress plug-in for inserting images is available.

Free Digital Photos: All small-sized images are free. Larger sizes are not.

FreeMediaGoo: Limited photos; image credit not needed.

Free Photos Bank: Free images, but  heavy push toward paid dreamstime site.

freerange: Smaller collection, but extremely high quality.

Google Art Project: Numerous art works, but must check with each museum on usage.

Kozzi: Very popular stock photo site.

Microsoft Image Gallery: Good

morgueFile: Contains a portfolio section and a free photos section.

Public Domain Images: All images are free for any personal or commercial use.

Public Domain Pictures: The collection is not as large as some, but serviceable.

rgbstock: User-friendly design with lots of options

stock.xchng: The first and largest free stock-photo site.

Wikimedia Commons: Includes images, sounds, and video.

Fair Use and Image Re-sizing

Using images of book covers and movie posters falls under fair use guidelines, and permission is not needed. Just make sure you are not manipulating the images in any way or making collages.

Also be mindful of the size of the images used in your posts. Anything over 600 pixels wide is too big. The larger file size will slow the load time of your page, not to mention look gigantic when clicked on to open in a separate window. Many free programs exist for re-sizing photos. You may want to consider using the WordPress Plug-in Smush.it to further strip images.

Using Your Own Pictures

In this age of smartphones and photo apps, why not start a stockpile of photos you can use when needed? In a pinch, PicMonkey and Art.Pho.to are just a couple of free sites you can use to add effects and text to your pictures from your computer.

And this is what I mean by calling this book blog twisted… sometimes I just gotta create posts like this. I guess it’s the teacher in me ;)

What stock photo sites above have you used and how would you rate your favorite ones? Can you add any that aren’t on my list? I’d love to hear from you.

My collection of short stories, Such is Life, is 99 cents until June 15.

Photo credit: uhleentothe / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo Credit: “Young Male Face” by beermug from stock.xchng

Photo Credit: “A Yellow Daisy” from Microsoft Images

Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB

Jeri Walker-Bickett
JeriWB writes short stories, creative nonfiction, and psychological suspense. The rough Idaho mining town she grew up in populates her literary landscape. She also works as a freelance editor.
Jeri Walker-Bickett

@JeriWB

Author of short stories, creative nonfiction, and psychological suspense. Blogger of writing tips and lit chat. Freelance editor. http://t.co/sfCsmQ5hyM
Review: Always the Quiet Ones by Cassandra Carr not as geeky as advertised http://t.co/cKbZjRrLse via @KatyaArmock - 19 mins ago
Jeri Walker-Bickett
Jeri Walker-Bickett
Jeri Walker-Bickett
I offer a variety of freelance editing services. Previously, I served as an editorial assistant with The Idaho Review, Boise State's literary journal.

50 Comments

  1. Great information. I will make sure I use these sites for images for my blog when I don’t have a photo of my own. I printed out the list and pinned it to my bulletin board (a real one, not Pinterest!) Thanks!

    • Grace, good to year you’ve printed the list and gave it a real pin and not a virtual one! ;)

  2. Nice list Jeri! I use Fotor just because it’s easy and convenient. :)

    • I used the Fotor plug-in for a while too, but I decided I like the images in the post without the credit caption. It doesn’t take too much longer to add it at the bottom of the post since all the user has to do is cut and paste the credited line for the image from Foter’s site.

  3. This is very good advice. I think we all have been guilty of using an image without thinking about the consequences. 95% of the images I use are my own. The exceptions are on my wine posts of the bottles and labels. Luckily these images are freely offered to help promote their product.

    The biggest concern I have is unauthorized use of my art. My legal counsel has recommended a standard Cease and Desist Letter if and when that should occur.

    • Susan, I hope you never have to go after anyone for improper use of your images. You’re a great example to us all when it comes to creating original digital artwork for blog posts, plus you always watermark your images. I do at times, but still forget to at others.

  4. Thanks for this info Jeri! I try to use my own photos whenever possible, but it’s great to have other options.

    • Aleshia, I’ve been trying to use more of my own photos, but until I get more in the habit, I’m a happy-camper in my knowledge that all these great free photo sites exist.

  5. Great post Jeri and such useful information. I get nightmares when I see how often people put themselves in jeopardy by using images without permission. In fairness though, it can be tricky with limited use images that people mistakenly think they they have purchased. Thanks for the list.

    • Debra, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen improperly placed images. Like I mentioned above, I too was guilty, even though I knew better. Roni Loren’s post on getting sued over images definitely served as my wake-up call.

  6. Great advice and surely a site listing I’ll be checking out. Thanks!

  7. You have a bunch of sites on here I had not yet seen. Thanks for the info.

    • Jon, out of the 17 sites listed, I’m really familiar and comfortable with about five of them. Doing this post gave me an excuse to branch out a bit.

  8. Really useful post!
    I’m revising my Candy’s Monsters blog this summer and have been told it needs more images, more photos, more art… I’ve been leery about using the intellectual property of others. This list will be very helpful.
    THANKS!

    • Candy, so glad my list of stock photo sites will be helpful in your blog makeover! I’ll be looking forward to how you start incorporating images that will only add depth to your already great subject matter ;)

      • I also sent your info the instructor who taught the social media class I took last year. We discussed intellectual property and, honestly, not everyone gets it. Your list may help some of his new students realize that they don’t have to “appropriate” without thought in order to illustrate their thoughts.

        Yea!

        • Candy, thanks for passing my list along. The idea of intellectual property really is hard for many people to wrap their minds around. When I taught research methods to high school students, it could get to frustrating because we live in a day and age where everything is liked and shared and available at the click of a button.

  9. Awesome post and just what I need today, Jeri. I am looking for a very specific location for a photo to go with an article and my go-to sites (included on your list) just aren’t cutting it. I’ll check out the others on the list. TY!

    • Christy, I’m glad my post on image sources is just what you needed to day. These things often tend to come along at just the right time, don’t they?

  10. Great minds think alike, I also posted on this a while ago. It is definitely a common problem and need for bloggers. After researching this topic I realised I was also probably not attributing images correctly and fixed that up.

    I will be exploring some of your links as I have not heard of or used quite of few of those.

    Here is a link to another post I did on image tools in case your readers need some more to go with their new found images :>

    http://madlemmings.com/2013/04/28/so-you-need-some-tools-to-work-on-those-images/

    • Ashley, thanks for the extra link to image tools. Editing images is something I would really like to get better at, but just never seem to find the time to truly master.

      • indeed we have to choose what we spend time on. My list of things to master is long !

  11. Great tips Jeri; I try to use my own pictures as often as possible, but will keep these in mind for future use. Thanks!

  12. Thank you for doing this research. I didn’t know about many of the sites on it.
    I often use photopin.com — many of their images are free. They ask that you check and provide the original source link. They also provide the code for attribution. Taking my own photos is not an option for me–no time, not good at it, and frequently I want metaphoric images–no way I could create those.
    Jagoda

    • Jagoda, thanks for the photopin link. I’ll be sure to bookmark it. I can relate to the need for methaphoric images ;)

  13. I use Wikimedia a lot. I prefer to use my own images, but if I need to find something, I try to find public domain images. A friend got a nasty threat of a lawsuit for using a Creative Commons image and properly linking – it turned out the image was not really in that person’s permission to offer. One really has to be careful!

    • Leora, I often wonder the same things about some of the images I come across. Just because they are on a site that says their images are approved for public use does not necessarily mean the person who posted them on the photo site has proper approval. It’s all such risk, which is one more reason for me to continue to work on using my own photos.

  14. Jeri — thanks for the tips about where to find images. I buy my images and use istockphoto.com/, http://fotolia.com/, and occasionally, http://www.shutterstock.com/. Their images are royalty free. Photographers submit images they own and get paid every time someone buys one. I’ve been to a few free stock photo sites but I often find they don’t have a comprehensive inventory of the quality images I want. I know so many bloggers who still use Google Images because they believe they are free and there for the taking. But I also know that some of these photographers are going after the culprits, so stealer beware!

    • Jeannette, you comment reminds me that if I could ever get all of my travel photos organized, I would like to place them on one of those paid photo sites. The only two photos I’ve purchased so far have been the ones I used for the cover of my two eBooks.

  15. Great tips and advice, Jeri! Thank you a lot! I also use Free Digital Photos beside my own pics, but I’ll surely search for those sources you’ve mentioned.
    As blogs are parts of our lives, we all want them to be perfect, but we also have to pay attention to legal aspects, as well.

    • Laura, it really is true that our blogs are parts of our lives, which is probably why I always want a wealth of photos to choose from.

  16. Thanks for the list of places to find images!

    • Cassi, I’m glad the list of sites helps. I’ll be exploring them more in depth in the months to come.

  17. Awesome information. I’ve been guilty of linking from time to time. I didn’t think it was theft because the original site was published with it (kinda like a footnote). Thanks for the heads up. I’ll try sticking with my own pictures or go to the sites you mentioned.

    • Denise, once I read Loni Loren’s article, I started to go back and change all of my embedded images to ones that were royalty free and in the public domain. It would be awful to get sued, that’s for sure. Better to be safe than sorry.

  18. Great article! A must read for any blogger! Proper image crediting is so important! Thanks for the reminder.

    • Trinidad, I think more and more bloggers are realizing how important it is to give proper credit for photos, but there are still many who don’t give it a second thought. Hopefully they won’t end up getting sued some day.

  19. Great post! Thank you for sharing. Far too many people do not understand the rules and guidelines to use when posting pictures to their site. This post is clear cut and easily understandable. Hopefully it will save some people from trouble in the future! Always good to teach a little lesson and get the word out.

    • Mary, thanks for the kind words. I will admit I partially wrote this post as a reaction to some of the ways I’ve seen a few bloggers unknowingly incorporating images into their posts.

  20. Great list Jeri. I use Dreamstime, often paying, because they do have such quality images. I also like, http://www.wylio.com/, they add the text for the credits just before you download the photo. There’s not always something good there but when there is, there is, and it’s easy.

    I also signed up for http://www.stockphotosforfree.com/ but haven’t used it yet.

  21. Jeri,
    Thank you for all the great places to look for images. We use Istock however you have to pay for the images and they get costly. We try to use our own images. Our recent blog is my dog. I have to say you put together quite a list. This blog I will bookmark.

  22. Jeri,
    You did a great job compiling the list for this post. I’m very familiar with MorgueFile but other than that site, I primarily license my images from BigStockPhotography. My reason for doing that is I prefer to use graphics rather than photos on my main site. It’s something that I started doing when I launched my site and I think that at this point, it’s part of the brand. I’ll keep these other sites in mind for the future.

    • Sherryl, BigStockPhotography is another site I’ll bookmark as well :)

  23. Excellent list, Jeri.

    Already use some of them but the more the merrier.

    • Catarina, agreed. The more the merrier. It’s better to have too many options rather than not enough.

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    I use one or two of these, but you really need a plethora of places to find images as often (particularly when they are royalty free) the pictures just aren’t suitable or what you are looking for.

    • Becc, that’s exactly what I thought when I first started using royalty free images, but then the more I looked, the more I realized just how many great photos are available.

  25. I’ve bookmarked this post because of your excellent advice. Too often I’ve been lazy and grabbed an image off the internet – when I should have known better. Thank you so much for rounding up this great list of free image resources. Pictures are very important to blogging, since they make the story come alive, and serve to underscore or counterpoint what you’re discussing. Keep it up!

    • Krystyna, part of my motivation behind compiling this list of sites is I had pretty much exhausted the possibilities in my one go-to site, but now this list gives all of us so many other options. Blog posts without images are so bland.

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