Every blogger eventually wants to use images in their posts. They attract attention and make them more shareable on social networks including Facebook and Pinterest.
But free images aren’t really free on most sites. If you’re a new blogger I’m sure you’ve found this very confusing because royalty free images are heavily promoted as free when they usually are not.
You have to BUY most royalty free images!
Royalties are paid PER USE or per volume sold, so the images you find on royalty-free sites are free of ROYALTIES but usually charge a one time use fee in either currency (money) or credits (which you buy – so still money).
There are many sites that offer images for free – and sometimes they actually have some totally free images – for some purposes – among those you have to pay a licensing fee to use. Here are the best known image sites:
- Getty Images
- Image Source
- Jupiter Images
- PhotoPin (searches iStockPhoto)
- Photo Stock Plus
- Shutter Point
- Canva: Free Icons
Note: AbleStock and StockXpert was bought out by Getty and no longer sells files. Mentioned here for anyone who might be searching for them.
Free Blog Images Are Usually NOT Free
Some images ARE free of cost in monetary measures but require attribution and /or a link to the source, photographer or creator. Those are actually what many bloggers would call free.
Others are advertised as free – but you have to pay a one-time use fee to the site where you acquired them. Those are what are called Royalty Free.
Unfortunately, there is no way to simply explain when images are free to use versus when you have to pay for them. For that you’ll have to visit each site and look at their terms.
One of the best graphs that illustrates how different uses are
permitted or prohibited is this Photo Acceptable Use Graph.
One very gray area is for blogs. If you have absolutely no ads – not even AdSense – and no affiliate links, paid reviews, paid posts or any other ways of making money your blog would be personal use only.
But if you DO have any of these things – then your blog could be considered commercial use – even though your earnings are meager.
Many bloggers are now taking their own photos or creating their own images – or they buy a subscription to one of the above sites and buy images for their posts.
Some sites even prohibit letting another blogger you know use credits they bought to acquire an image for you – so be sure to read the terms and be careful of running afoul of copyright laws.
Using Celebrity Photographs
Attorney Danielle Liss advises Tiffany at The SitsGirls that the safest way to acquire a celebrity photo is to do a screen capture from a video. For full details, read Is Using Celebrity Photos on Your Blog OK?
See also eHows’ Celebrity Copyright Law.
Totally Free Images for Blogs
This tip comes to us from prominent blogger Kristi Hines who is also a photographer herself. The one place you can definitely find free photos and images to use is Flickr IF you know how to search.
Kristi suggests going to Flickr Advanced search – and this is important – be sure to check the Creative Commons Box at the bottom.
Shawn Hessinger recommends also checking the “find content to use commercially”box in the Creative Commons section.
Freelance Graphics Designer Louise Myers shared via Twitter that using Flickr images was “Too risky for me. People may post stolen images and say they’re OK to use.”
FREE Images WordPress Plugin
Brian Wallace, President of NowSourcing Infographic Design, offered this excellent tip for taking the pain out of dealing with sourcing images for your blog posts:
“Flickr is a safe bet for using images. By default, user uploaded content is set to all rights reserved. If you perform an advanced search and set to only search for Creative Commons content, you’re safe with an attribution. There’s a WordPress plugin for this called PhotoDropper that does the heavy lifting for you.”
Verify Photo Ownership
Remember that no matter where you find an image the person who posted it there might not own the rights to it. You can use these resources to verify ownership.
FREE Photo Sites
- NEW: HobbiesOnaBudget Free Images for Blogs
- EveryStockPhoto – searchable by type of free license
- Creative Commons Free Photo Search
- Free Public Domain Images to View, Copy or Download
FREE Icon Sites
- Free Stock Icons (Found ALL free icons here.)
- Icon Archive (Found the most free icons here.)
- FreeIconsWeb (Some free for personal use; some Creative Commons 3.0; mixed licensing here)
- Find Icons (appears to be a search engine to sell royalty free icons)
(An icon is a smaller image usually 128×128 or less that is used on a site for email, RSS feeds, social buttons, etc. Many are hi-res and could be resized and used as images in posts.)
Know of any other places to get totally free images?
Tell us in the comments!
Stock Photography Comparisons
- Stock Photo Rights: Helpful information about image copyright rules and how to license stock photos
- 2012 Stock Image Photography Service Comparisons
- Search Engine Journal: 7 Alternatives to IStockPhoto
- Digital Photography School Forum Discussion
- PhotoFeds Stock Photo Comparisons
Stock Photo Price Comparison Engine
- StockPhotoGuides: Stock Photo Subscription vs. Single Image Purchasing
- BuyMicroStock ~ Compare Stock Photo Prices
- TechCrunch Review of SpiderPic Price Comparison Engine for Stock Photos
- SpiderPic Price Comparision Engine for Stock Photos
- Lifehacker: SpiderPic Stock Photo Comparisons
Photo Images News
- NEW: AWeber: The Free Images You’ve Been Searching For
- Deposit Photos Reaches 8 Million High Quality Images; Adds Lightbox Feature
- Wired: Why Instagram Is Terrible for Photographers, and Why You Should Use It
- PhotoShelter: Instagram and the Perpetuation of the “Commonplace Photo”
How to Sell Photos
Photography Related Directories
- Photography Directory
- Photography Products
- Stock Photography
- Stock Photography Companies
- Shopping: Photography: Cameras and Camcorders
- How to Use Images of Famous Brands and Trademarks in Articles
- Images and the Law
- Pros And Cons Of Using Public Domain Images
How to Add Images to Blog Posts
- Lifehacker: How to Take a Screen Shot
- How to Use GIMP for Image Screen Captures to Use in Blog Posts
- DragonBlogger: How to Use PhotoDropper
- Shutter Screen Capture App for Linux allows you to add arrows, pointers, boxes, and text to turn any screen capture into an instant visual tutorial