When creating content on the internet, it’s no surprise that using images helps drive traffic to your posts and keeps your audience engaged. However, it is important to understand what you can and cannot do when using images for web design, blog posts, or graphics. Here are the “Do’s and Don’ts” of finding images for your own use.
Go straight to Google and find the first photo that catches your eye.
Buy photos from stock photography websites when necessary.
Take a photo from someone’s website or blog and give an attribution.
Take your own photos!
Republish a photo from the Internet without checking its copyright license.
Find credible websites that have free images under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License (and make sure you understand the Terms & Conditions).
Think it won’t happen to you! Legal actions regarding images can be found in every industry, including authors, nurseries, and even marketing firms (Yes, we’ve had our own brush with the law).
We recommend you check to make sure images you use fall under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License (essentially, “no rights reserved”). According to Creative Commons, “the person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law…You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”
Here is a list of our favorite stock photography sites.
Unsplash is truly a powerhouse for your photography needs. As one of the fastest-growing providers of free photography, Unsplash features photos ranging from portraits to architecture to nature and nearly everything between. All photos on Unsplash can be used (copied, modified, distributed, etc;) for free for both commercial and noncommercial purposes. Attribution is not required, but it is appreciated.
Pixabay is another favorite of ours because it features free illustrations, vectors, and videos in addition to stock photography. They also operate under the CC0 license, allowing you to download, modify, and distribute for commercial or noncommercial uses without worrying about attribution. All for free.
Pexels is a more recent addition to this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful. Pexels’ growing image database means more and more photos are being acquired regularly for your stock photography needs. Pexels also operates under the CC0 License. Did we mention it’s free?
If the previous three sites don’t have what you need, we strongly recommend PhotoDune, a division of Envato Market. PhotoDune offers a vast variety of royalty-free stock photography, and prices start at $2.
Photos on Canva are free or $1. Yes, you read that right. With a Canva account, you have access to over 1,000,000 royalty-free images (and icons). Many are free, and the rest cost only $1. Granted, some creativity comes with this option; before accessing the photos, you have to create a new design. Luckily, Canva gives you plenty of size options and even social media templates.
The last site on this list is Wikimedia Commons. While we recommend looking at the previously-mentioned sites first, Wikimedia Commons is known to be beneficial when searching for location-specific images. However, many of the images found on Wikimedia Commons require some sort of attribution, so be wary of this if you use images from this site.