How often have you wondered 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? I continue to see the issue of where to find images for blog posts crop up time and again on various social media platforms, so I am updating this post as a reminder to new and current readers. As anyone who follows this blog for any length of time knows, this online space is a labor of love I continually strive to perfect, and proper and effective image use is part of that process.
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 so 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.
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 unless you seek proper permission for use!
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 where to find images for blog posts.. The end of this list also contains a note on fair use and re-sizing images.
Where to Find Images for Blogs (16 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.
Free Images: The first and largest free stock-photo site.
FreeMediaGoo: Limited photos; image credit not needed.
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.
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.
Wikimedia Commons: Includes images, sounds, and video.
Fair Use and Image Resizing
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. I always include a disclaimer at the bottom of posts that contains a disclaimer such as, “The cover image used in this post is for promotional purposes only and follows fair use guidelines. Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.” When I use images from stock photo sites, I always include a link back to the source at the bottom of the post.
Also be mindful of the size of the images used in your posts. Anything over approximately 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.
As time allows, I have used many of the photographs I’ve posted on my hobby photography blog Arresting Imagery to create shareable content with some of my favorite quotes to post to my social media accounts.
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.
Guest Post: How to Choose Wine Glasses. Join me to learn more over at the blog of my regular client Susan P. Cooper
Photo Credit: “Young Male Face” by beermug from stock.xchng
Photo Credit: “A Yellow Daisy” from Microsoft Images
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.