We know we need to be careful when using other people’s photos on our blog or website. A photo we use years ago can come back and bite us in the rear if we just pull one off the web and pop it into the content on our site, we may find that to owner of that photo may hit use with a copyright suit.
So where can we get pictures we can safely and confidently use?
I have the answer for you. Below I have links to some sites I have used to get photos for my own use, both on my site, social media and in my book covers.
First, let’s go over a few terms you will need to know.
Terms we should know before using any free images
Here are some things we should know before we get started. These terms will come up as we review free image sources. Make sure you always read over the terms and conditions of each site you visit before you use their pictures.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that permits the sharing and use of contextual knowledge and or creative art through free legal devices. These can range from allowing any type of use to giving only certain uses and no changes.
Public domain works are those whose where the copyrights have expired, forfeited, or are inapplicable. Finding something on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain.
Royalty-free images aren’t automatically free. In some cases, you may need to pay a onetime fee for the rights to use the image. Then you will be able to use it as many times as you like. The “free” in “royalty-free” merely means that you don’t have to pay royalties to the owner of the image every time you use it.
Below are a few websites that I have used
1. Unsplash – I love Unsplash and use it most of the time. Unsplash has its own license. This means it lets you use the images for free, in any way you like, except for using them to create a competing website. They do request you acknowledge the photographer, but that is a request of personal courtesy which I am happy to oblige.
2. Canva – Canva is an online graphic design tool that I often used them to create many of my social media posts and headers. They also have free stock photos. One advantage of using Canva is that you can turn an image into a custom graphic to use on social media or your blog.
3. Pexels – Another one I have used several times. Pexels also has its own license. Their license states what you can and can’t do with the images from their site. This site is great because you can modify the images for free for both personal and use on commercial site. Like Unsplash, acknowledgment is not required.
4. Free Images – Free Images provide thousands of free stock images under its own license. The license allows a vast spectrum of uses, though it lists several restricted use cases (which are quite common for most free images sites).
5. New Old Stock – This site is a collection of vintage photos from the public archives, free of known copyright restrictions.
These are the main sites I use while I look for images to use on my website. Remember to read through the licenses, rules and restrictions of each site. Protect yourself. Neglecting and rushing can cause you problems down the road, so don’t cut corners with this.