I think it’s very important to include striking, relevant photos on your blog posts.
High-quality photos make your blog attractive to read, and break the text into readable chunks. Nobody enjoys being faced with a “wall of text”.
When you’re selecting photos for blog posts, try to choose pictures which show the positive benefits of the subject you are writing about – these make the post much easier to understand.
For example, if you are writing about healthy eating, find pictures of healthy people eating the food you are recommending, or if you are writing about teaching your child to read, find pictures of happy children looking at books with their parents.
If you’re really stuck for ideas when trying to find photos for your blog, you could always use a humorous angle, and include a cute puppy or kitten to illustrate your point.
Finding Images to Use
Some inexperienced bloggers think you can just use any photo that you find on the Internet – but this is not the case and can lead to serious legal problems:
You must make sure you have the copyright owner’s permission before you use a photo on your blog.
If you find a photo online that you’d like to use, you can contact the website and ask who owns the copyright (usually the photographer) and then contact them for permission to use the photo.
Professional photographers will usually want to charge you a fee for use of the photo – after all, that’s how they earn their living.
If all this sounds like too much hassle – don’t despair, I’m going to show you some fantastic websites where photographers allow you to download and use any of the thousands of wonderful photos they’ve contributed.
Disclaimer: I’m not a copyright lawyer. If you’re in any doubt about copyright law and how it applies to your use of images on your website, you should take legal advice from a qualified lawyer who specialises in copyright law.
Check The Licence
When you use a stock photography website for the first time, it’s very important that you read and understand the licence and copyright information provided with the images on that website.
Sometimes it will be one licence that is the same for all of the images on the website, and sometimes it will be separate licences for each image that you download.
You must read the licence and make sure that it meets your requirements – you can’t use an image that is for personal use on your commercial website, you can’t modify an image that is only available for unmodified use, etc.
If you’re not sure how the licence terms apply to your intended use, it’s always best to email the website and ask!
Check the licence for the requirement to publish attribution i.e. say where the picture came from or who the photographer was. Most stock photo websites don’t require attribution on their images, but some do.
Even if it’s not required, publishing attribution helps the photographer raise their profile, so it’s a nice way to say “thank you”.
My Top 5 Free Stock Photo Sites
This is my favourite source of free images, as the images are stylish and moody, and all are very high quality.
Sometimes this style isn’t suitable for my current blog post and I have to look elsewhere, but often there is a great shot in Unsplash that I can use.
Unsplash is a website of high-quality hand-curated images that have been donated by the photographers themselves.
The images are available for use completely free (personal and commercial), and you don’t have to ask permission from the photographer or publish an attribution.
There are over a million high-resolution images available to download from Unsplash, though you cannot select what resolution to use – there is only one resolution (high) available for each photo. I’ve never found this to be a problem, as the images are more than high enough resolution to use on a blog post.
Pixabay is more “mainstream” than Unsplash – lots of photos of all sorts of topics, though very occasionally the quality isn’t quite as high as the ones from Unsplash.
It’s an ideal site for finding blog photos on every subject. Pixabay also has videos available, though I haven’t had a chance to explore the videos yet.
Like Unsplash, Pixabay is a community of photographers who have agreed that everyone can download and use their images and videos for free without having to ask for permission or give attribution on the published image.
You can use them for personal and commercial use.
The Pixabay search function is quite advanced with two features that I particularly like – Safesearch and Orientation.
Safesearch blocks inappropriate images from your search results, and Orientation allows you to specify if you want landscape or portrait images (or both).
I find the Pixabay search works better than the Unsplash one, specially if you are using a phrase or multiple words.
Pixabay have 1 million+ images and videos available to download.
Pexels have their own photographer community who upload their photos straight into Pexels, but the site also includes photos from other sources such as Pixabay, Gratisography, Little Visuals and many more.
So this could be an easy way to search lots of free photo sites at the same time!
However, I don’t think all of the photos from each of the sources are included in Pexels.
For example, I searched for “alarm clock” in Pixabay and got 581 photos, and did the same search in Pexels and only got 252 photos.
I guess you get the benefit of Pexel’s own photos as well as a selection of the other sources if you use Pexels rather than searching on the individual source websites.
Pexels have an interesting feature where they have a leaderboard of the most downloaded photographers, so you can easily see the best, most popular photos on the platform.
Gratisography aim to provide free images that are different from the usual stock photo sites, and I think they achieve that.
The style of photo is often slightly wacky and the images are all hand-curated by the Gratisography team.
They have a community of photographers who upload their own images for use on Gratisography.
Each photographer can only upload 5 photos at first, until the editors have decided that the photographer’s work is of high enough standard.
They haven’t got millions of images, but the ones they do have are unique! (The car in the photo above is real, and is owned by Gratisography’s founder Ryan McGuire.)
This is one that I’ve just recently found, and I think I’ll be making a lot of use of it! It’s a great source of photos for blogging.
StockSnap doesn’t have as many images as, say, Pixabay, but it does have lots of nice high-quality business/office/computer style images that are great for posts such as this one!
(Of course they have lots of other categories and a search function too!).
The free images on StockSnap are available through the CC0 (Creative Commons 0) licence, which means you can use them for personal or commercial use, and you don’t need to provide attribution to the photographer.
StockSnap say that they add hundreds of new photos weekly, so the selection is always growing!
There are of course lots more free stock photo sites on the Internet for you to explore, but these are the ones that I’m currently using to create this blog.
If you are looking at other websites, don’t forget to check the licence on that site – it might be single licence that applies to the whole site, or separate licences for each image.
Just make sure you are allowed to use the photos for your purpose (personal or commercial) and whether there are any special terms or conditions (like putting an attribute next to the photos, or putting a link to the photographer’s website).
If you have any other free stock photo websites that you would recommend, or any questions about the ones I’ve suggested, please let me know in the comments below.
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