A picture is worth a 1,000 words. It could also cost you $1,000 if improperly used. You see, the internet is full of stolen pictures. That’s right – most of the time when you search google images, those pictures are stolen. If you use them, you could get slapped with a DMCA Takedown notice.
As you’re not a thief, you’re not going to use those images. You need pictures and graphics, however, to go with your articles. After all, there’s a reason so many pictures are stolen – the internet is a visual medium. People love to look at pictures.
You could go to a high-priced stock-photo site. These sites are worthwhile if you need a lot of images. Otherwise, you’re going to have to shell out about $50 for 5 pictures.
Using Free Images
The other way is to use free images with a creative commons license. This license is used by photographers, graphic designers, authors, and others. It gives you the right to use their work for free.
Sometimes there are restrictions. The most common restrictions include: you can’t change the original creation; you need to give the creator attribution (usually through a link to the original work); or you can’t use the image on things you sell. The two most common types of license are below:
CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) means the images are free to use for any purpose and that no attribution is required.
CC2.0 (Creative Commons 2.0) means that images are free to use for any purpose, but you must give credit to the artist by providing a link. There may also be restrictions about how you use these images. Most of the photos on Flickr are cc2.0
My Five Favorite Free Photo Sites:
Enter the term “free stock photos” and you’ll easily come up with over 50 sites. Below are my five favorites:
Gratisography I love this site because the photographer, Ryan McGuire, has a wonderful quirky sense of humor. He feels “art is a bonding and inspirational medium” and likes to make people smile. The photo used with this article is from him. He doesn’t require attribution – but everyone likes to be given credit for good work. License: CC0
Unsplash Mostly high-quality scenic photos. You can subscribe and get 10 free photos every 10 days. License: CC0
Barn Images Free high-quality images of much more than barns. Started by two Latvian photographers, this site has photo packs – packs of related photos to get your creative juices flowing. License: CC0
Negative Space This site has photos with “negative space.” In other words space to put a caption. License: CC0
Pixaby The images are not as high-quality as the sites above. Pixaby is a lot like Flickr, but all pictures have the CC0 license.
Other Free Resources:
Pexels Started by two German web developers, Pexels is an aggregator which means it uploads photos from other sites. It adds about 70 photos a week and has a searchable database. License: CC0
Flickr Thousands of images populate Flickr. Be sure to check out the creative commons license before you download or use any of the photos. Some you cannot use. All require attribution (a link back to the original photo) License: Varies with each photo.
Photo Editing Sites:
After you’ve found the perfect photo, you might want to tweak it a bit. Maybe you want to merge two photos or add words. Below are two resources that are easy to use. Both have great tutorials.
Canva Free photo and vector graphic editing. Also has free and low cost images (around $1 per image). The images have a one-time use license, so you can’t sell items that you create. Includes lots of different fonts and graphical elements such as shapes, stamps, etc.
Pic Monkey Free photo editing. No restrictions on how you use your creations because they assume you own the copyright to the photo. This site has free and premium tools. The tools make it extremely easy to manipulate photos. (The premium account is only $15 a year – so I splurged and have more than gotten my money’s worth.)
Staying Picture Perfect:
Avoid problems by using only images with the creative commons license. If you find something and aren’t sure about the license, consider these four points:
- Attribution: Avoid plagiarism by giving credit. Providing attribution means you’ve given credit to the photographer or designer. This is usually done through a link. Giving attribution does not cover you for violating a copyright.
- Copyright Infringement: Even with attribution, you might be in violation of copyright infringement. Just because you’ve given someone credit, doesn’t mean you have the right to use their work. People might not want a photo they took on your website, so always look at the licensing rights. Be safe and assume every image online is copyrighted.
- Changing an Image. Unless you took the image yourself, you don’t own the copyright. Changing someone else’s image can still get you in trouble.
- Ask. Find the creator and ask if you can use the image. Then you know it’s okay. If they don’t respond, or they don’t give you permission, find something else. It’s not nice to steal.
Create and Have Fun.
So was this post just Advice (.50) or Good Advice ($2.00)? Tell me the next time you see me!