If you own or write for a blog, you will know the pain and annoyance of sourcing images for it. No matter what type of post you’re writing, images are always needed to brighten them up and break up the walls of text. However, adopting a strategy of going onto Google Images and plucking images without attribution will land you in hot water sooner or later, so it’s best to have all bases covered before you do anything. Here are my best online image source recommendations.
While there are many collections of free images for you to download, sometimes you will need to find something different for the post you’re writing.
So here are my picks for the best online sources for images (not in order of preference):
Search by Creative Commons provides excellent explanations about what Creative Commons licenses are, and offers a way to search throughout the web for images that have them.
Flickr Storm is search tool to find Flickr images offered for use with a Creative Commons license (be sure to click “Advanced Search” to make sure your results include only those with a CC license).
Pics 4 Learning is specifically designed for teachers and students and has thousands of images that can be used freely.
Image source … Photl.com has 160,000 copyright-free images available.
Free high quality images
Here are two more simple ways to search for Creative Commons images:
Simple CC Flickr Search
PicFindr lets you search many photo sites simultaneously and, in addition to defining the image you want, you can define the restrictions for use. For example, I typed in that I was looking for a picture of a lion, checked the “none” box for licensing requirements (which means anybody can use it — even without crediting the photographer) and got several hundred images to choose from.
I’m adding Wikimedia Commons to this list. It has four million images, and their reuse agreement states:
Almost all may be freely reused without individual permission according to the terms of the particular license under which it was contributed to the project. Depending on what you want to do with it, you probably do not need to obtain a specific statement of permission from the Licensor.
Seems about as broad as you can make it…
I learned about 25 Places To Find Awesome Stock Photos and decided to add some of the sites on that list. The “25 Places” post has concise and accurate descriptions of the sites, so I’m just going to quote from them. I’d also encourage you to check out their entire list:
Free Foto: “Freefoto is made up of 117,600 images with over 150+ sections organized into 3,285 categories. There’s a search function, and usage is completely unrestricted. All you have to do is include an attribution link back to Freefoto.com.”
Free Digital Photos: “Free Digital Photos has a good search function, which is very important when you’ve got this many images under one resource. Photos are nicely grouped into categories for easy and quick browsing.”
Public Domain Photos: “Public Domain Photos is exactly that: a photographer’s domain for public display, all arranged by corresponding categories. There’s a really good search function available, as well.”
Free Historical Stock Photos: “Free Historical Stock Photos contains various historical images, including many by Matthew Brady (Civil War) and Dorothea Lange (Great Depression). This site also includes paintings and vintage posters. The images are gracefully categorized and easily findable with the use of a search function.”
Online image source recommendations … Big Foto has a large selection of royalty-free images.
Photos 8 has thousands of high-quality public domain pictures and is easy to search.
Free stock images download … 100 (Legal) Sources for Free Stock Images is another incredible list of resources.
Weird domain name aside, stock.xchng is a free stock image site that has over 350,000 stock photos and growing from more than 30,000 photographers. Once you’ve signed up, all those images are available to you for no cost so if you’re indifferent to generic stock images on your blog or just need an image for something abstract; chances are you’ll find it here.
Heritage Explorer has hundreds of thousands of British-related images available for free educational use. You can read more about it at the Kent ICT blog.
WorldImages, according to its site, is a “database that provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It contains almost 75,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery. WorldImages is accessible anywhere, and its images may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes.”
Mashable has posted a great piece, 26 Places to Find Free Multimedia for Your Blog. I’ve already included in this post many of the resources they list. However, they also listed some sites that are new to me, especially the ones that have freely-available video. I’m also sure that a ton of additional sources will be accumulating in their comments section. Because of that, for now, instead of just selectively adding some of their sites to my lists, I’m going to include a link to their post here.
I’m adding these sites to the list (neither require attribution for their photos though, of course, that would be a nice thing to do):
WP Clip Art has a whole lot of attractive clip art that “…may be used for commercial as well as personal projects without attribution or linking.”
30 Websites To Download Free Stock Photos
Wylie is a new site for bloggers to find photos for their blogs. In seconds, it finds a Flickr Creative Commons photo, resizes it to exactly what you need, and provides an embed code, which automatically includes an attribution to the photographer. This is one of my favorite sites.
Free Images has 6000 original stock photos — all you have to do is credit the site when you use them.
Finding and using public domain photographs comes from Public Domain Sherpa, and contains quite a few sources of good images that are new-to-me. Also, the site offers helpful advice on using each source.
4 Free Photos is another website that offers a good selection of public domain images.
This news seems pretty neat and, instead of re-inventing the wheel, I’m just going to quote from it.
Read Write Web post (and I’d encourage you to read their entire piece:
Yale University has one of the larger collections of art, objects and documents of any organization in the U.S. Now, digital images and audio files of the collection are free to access by anyone in the world online, according to an announcement by the university’s communications office.
Yale Digital Commons has debuted with just under 260,000 images. The idea is to encompass the whole of the university’s collections in time.
Here’s the main link to Yale Digital Commons.
The real interesting part of this is that the images are being released with what appear to be absolutely no licensing requirements.
“In a departure from established convention, no license will be required for the transmission of the images and no limitations will be imposed on their use….”
Copyright Free and Public Domain Media Sources provides a nice collection of image resources.
Kozzi has thousands of royalty-free images that can be used for anything — at no charge — without even having to give them attribution. You have sign-up for the site, but registration is free.
PhotoPin is a new search engine for Creative Commons images. It has a very nice interface, and I especially like it because you not only get the photos, but it also gives you the exact attribution to copy and paste. Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip, and you can read more about the site at their post.
Earlier in this post, I briefly describe how to search for images on Google that are licensed for “reuse.” Google says if you use it, its “results will only include pages that are either labeled as public domain or carry a license that allows you to copy or redistribute its content, as long as the content remains unchanged.”You can get a fuller text description of how to use this option at Google’s site.
How to Identify Mysterious Images Online is from MindShift.
Thanks to a tweet by Eric Sheninger, I learned about Photo Pin. It’s a search engine for Creative Commons images from Flickr, and you’re provided with the code you can copy and paste underneath the photo when you use it that provides the appropriate attribution.
The bottom line
To be effective in this new era, we as marketers need to see our jobs differently. No more just focusing on metrics like clicks, video views or social media shares. We must successfully integrate our function with other business functions to create entire brand experiences that serve the customer all the way through their experiences throughout the business.
We can do better. Much better. But first, we need to stop seeing ourselves as crafters of clever brand images and messages and become creators of positive brand experiences.
There can never be enough focus on continuous improvement on brand imaging, independent of how well the business is doing.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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