Do you have any questions or issues about finding pictures for your blog?
If yes, read on.
I had loads of them when I started blogging.
After making countless mistakes and doing one heck of a research, finally I have debunked virtually all the myths.
Actually there are two major snags in finding photos for blog: high price of digital photos and fear of copyright infringement.
For better understanding, let’s keep this post in question-answer format and explore how to find free photos, how to attribute them properly and every other question that matters.
But in the end, I’ll talk about a gruesome scenario that might scare you enough to never use every blogger’s favorite ‘Creative Commons’ again!
Why images for your blog?
As Fred R. Barnard said,
“a picture is worth a thousand words”.
Posts without images are just like cars without paint – absolutely ugly!
Yes, there are some other types of media that are even more powerful. However, their smaller size, high impact, ease of use and many other characteristics make pictures the most popular option for your blog.
Where to find free photos?
This is the most important question. I use following five ways to find images.
1. DIY: The best way to go is to take photos yourself – yes, just buy an affordable point and shoot digital camera and ‘bon photography’.
It’s cost-effective, it’s customized to your needs and it’s real FUN!
2. Google Advanced Image Search:
where there’s will, there is a way where there’s search, there is a Google!
Though it might not offer you a plethora of digital imagery, it can solve the problem at times. Make sure you choose the right option in ‘usage right’ drop down at the end of the page.
3. Everystockphoto: This ‘license-specific photo search engine’ is pretty similar to Google’s advanced image search. It allows a bit more options to restrict your results and combs all the major free stock photo sources.
4. Flicker: Not all the images on this gigantic photo database from Yahoo are under Creative Commons, but you can filter them by selecting the right option.
5. Stock.Xchng: Many photos from this site don’t even require attribution but their standard license requires you to
“take the time to comment on and rate the Image you downloaded and do your best to show the work you created with the Image to the photographer.”
However, the higher quality photos from stock.xchng are NOT free.
6. Wikimedia Commons: You may not find amazing photos on Wikimedia but at times you may come across a pearl!
What’s Creative Commons?
Copyright laws are extremely restrictive, and if approved, SOPA and PIPA might make them even stricter.
Creative Commons (or CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others to build upon and share.
They have done the hard legal figuring for you to streamline your preferences with respect to what you can do with others’ work.
What’s image attribution?
There are different methods of attributing an image licensed under CC. Usually, the owner specifies his preferred way.
Most sites use acronyms (which are rather confusing) for attribution.
Attribution-NoDerivs: CC BY-ND
You may distribute the image, WITHOUT editing it, for personal or commercial purposes. You must credit the owner.
Attribution-ShareAlike: CC BY-SA
It’s same as CC BY; however, any new art created by anyone based on this image will also carry the same license.
Attribution-NonCommercial: CC BY-NC
You may edit or build upon the image for non-commercial purposes ONLY. You must credit the owner. Any art you create based on this image will not carry the same license; however, this art can also be used for non-commercial purposes only.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA
You may edit/modify and build upon the original image for personal purposes only. You must credit the owner.
You may share the image WITHOUT editing and for non-commercial purposes only. You must credit the owner.
Attribution: CC BY
You may distribute, modify, and/or build the original image for non-commercial as well as commercial purposes. You must credit the owner.
Which type you should choose?
You may choose any of the following three popular types of images on the web:
JPG/JPEG/JFIF: JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the most commonly used (and recommended) format. Usually, it’s lossy compression (a data compression method which discards some of the ‘less useful’ data) and is extensively used in the digital cameras.
The major benefit of this format is the relatively small size of the file. However, if images are repeatedly edited, the quality suffers big-time.
It’s also not suitable for images with text, simple shapes having crisp edges and large blocks of solid colors. When the image is compressed or edited, it becomes blurry.
PNG Images: This format was actually developed as a replacement of GIF because the GIF images were subject to a royalty free. It’s a much better compression method and you can also create animated images.
The best result of PNG images can be achieved by selecting true colors, but this results in huge file size. PNG is not supported by most of the older cellphones.
GIF Images: Usually referred for smaller images and thumbnails GIF images have a fixed number of colors i.e. 256 unique colors.
It’s the best format for storing graphics with relatively few colors i.e. logos, simple diagrams, shapes and cartoon images. GIF also supports animation. Unlike JPG, its GIF can handle the compression of images with large blocks of solid color more efficiently.
How to use a copyrighted image?
If you are dying to use a copyrighted image, the only legal option is to contact the owner and seek his approval.
What to do when there is a complaint?
If you get a complaint from someone about an image on your blog, remove it immediately!
It’s interesting that you can evade liability by deleting the image under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
What’s the Risk in using Creative Commons?
Is there really any risk using the creative commons?
Yes – a lottttt!
Actually there are two such circumstances where CC can get you in trouble:
1. Any ‘moron’ can assign a CC license to the image he uploads, regardless of having the ACTUAL copyrights to do so. If you download such an image, you have infringed copyrights!
2. On some websites, such as flicker, the owner can change the licensing options. The image with ‘some rights reserved’ you gleefully downloaded can become one with ‘all rights reserved’.
So better be careful when using CC!
Have any other question about finding free pictures for your blog? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
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Hi! I am Ali – a freelance writer & blogging enthusiast. If you're new here, you'll totally love my FREE ebook: The Secret Ingredients to Writing Magnetic Headlines That Always Get Noticed.
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