Photos and pictures are necessary components for maximizing reach with your blog or website. Social media networks are prioritizing or requiring pictures in shared content, and even Google is showing pictures in select search results. Finding photos for every post on a blog can be a challenge, and expensive if you purchase every photo from a stock image service.
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There are free sources for photos and pictures for your blog content. While each source has its strengths and limitations, having a quality list of sources like this can ensure that you can always find the right picture to illustrate your article.
Free Licensed Image Sources
Several photo services offer portions of their usually paid catalogs for free. These can be limited-time offers, or images you can use for particular purposes. Shutterstock.com, iStockphoto.com, and Dreamstime.com offer free images on a weekly or monthly basis to registered users.
Getty Images, a supplier of photos for major news services around the world, lets users use an embed tool to insert images onto a site or blog. You must use the embed tool, which is located under the photo near the social media share buttons. Getty reserves the right to monitor use of their images that you embed, and states that they may revoke the privilege to embed at any time. Furthermore, you may only use the images on editorial content, such as a blog. You may not use it for promotional materials, or in a way that suggests endorsement of a product or service. If you can meet these terms, many of their millions of professional photos about current events and celebrities may be used on your site.
Public Domain Sources
Content that is in the public domain may be used for any purpose. The copyright either expired or never existed for that item, so it is able to be used by anyone. This not only includes written works, but also images such as photographs or illustrations.
Images can be in the public domain if they are created by the government, or very old. The Library of Congress, the National Archives, and NASA are three organizations that keep libraries of photographs. These tend to be older records of history, or in the case of NASA, space related. Before using a photo from these sources, make sure it is in fact a government produced image, and not something the agency has licensed from a third party.
Project Gutenberg is a popular source for ebooks and old texts. Some of the digitized books contain images, and those photographs or illustrations have passed into the public domain as well as the written word. Google’s site search feature can help you search for particular images on Gutenberg.org‘s servers.
Creative Commons Sources
A Creative Commons license is a voluntary licensing agreement that the creator of a work can use to share the image while retaining the copyright. There are conditions to using a Creative Commons-licensed image, usually categorized by the type of Creative Commons license the creator chose. For a company blog or website, for instance, you will want an attribution license. Make absolutely sure that the license for a particular photo states that you may use it for commercial purposes if you plan to use it on a company site. Attribution is often required for these licenses.
It is very important when using photos under Creative Commons licenses, or from sites that host Creative Commons images, that the picture you use states that you may use it for your intended purpose. Google’s image search and the Creative Commons site offer search engines that let you search multiple sites for Creative Commons-licensed images.
Free Image Sites
When you are looking for illustrations, clip art, or vector images, there are some sites dedicated to providing these types of images for free. All-silhouettes.com offers a huge selection of simple silhouettes of people, things, and abstract designs. Openclipart.org specializes in illustrations, both colored and black and white.