Writing for the web often requires a great deal of self publishing, especially if you run your own blog or news/feature website. Because of this, there is a good chance that at some point, you will be required to find images, resize them, and add them to your articles.
Nothing can fully replace having your own photographer at your side, but there are many photographers who use the web as their digital portfolios and allow writers and website owners to use their images royalty-free. Just because an image is on the web does not mean it’s a free image and you have the right to use it, and if you start making money off your blog while illegally using copyrighted images, you could be in for a world of hurt.
There are several types of royalty-free photo sites out there. Some have their own licenses, and others use copyleft licenses like Creative Commons or GNU Free Documentation License. Still others allow the users to specify the terms such as notification and crediting. The following are several sites you can use to find free images for your writing.
Where to Find Free Images?
stock.xchng – One of the most well-established free stock photo sites, stock.xchng showcases an amazingly large number of photographers. Licenses include the standard restrictions, which do not require attribution, as well as an attribution, permission, and/or notification requirement. All of the images are high-quality, and all are free of charge.
Flickr – Since Flickr itself is a photo sharing site, there are plenty photos with “all rights reserved” that are off-limits to you unless you gain the photographer’s permission. With the “advanced search” feature, however, you can locate usable photos by scrolling to the bottom of the page and checking: “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”. If you need to use the images for commercial promotion, also be sure to check “Find to use commercially”.
A word of caution: Flickr uses the Creative Commons feature trusting that the person who uploads it will honor its terms. Unfortunately, some are prone to later change the license or upload images that they do not have permission to license in the first place. Therefore, always use your best judgment.
Wikimedia Commons – Created by the same non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia, this free image site has a plethora of usable photos and art. Because of stricter requirements for submission, Wikimedia Commons photos are all reusable under Creative Commons. Most require attribution, so be sure to credit your sources.
OpenClipArt – Although clipart may be the last type of image you want to include in your writing, OpenClipArt has some quality vector SVG artwork that may cause you to reconsider. All of the images on this site are released to the Public Domain and do not require attribution.
Google Advanced Search – Rather than an image hosting site, Google image search is a meta search tool that you can use to find reusable images. Simply click on “Advanced Search” and for “Usage rights” select “free to use or share”. Most of the images will come from Flickr, but it may also find additional ones, and best of all, it relies on Google’s speedy search interface.
everystockphoto – Another meta search tool, everystockphoto searches many of the sites mentioned above, such as Flickr and stock.xchng. Each entries clearly defines the license type, resolution, image source, and more.
morgueFile – An interesting concept, morgueFile is designed specifically for creative people looking for free images to use. The site license does not require attribution, and the collection of photos is quite impressive and high quality.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog – The Library of Congress has tons of digital images, and it would make this article unduly long to list all of the categories. If you are looking for art, historical photos, or things you might not be able to find elsewhere, LOC probably has it. Most of the old photos and art are in the public domain, but be sure to check the restrictions for each collection you use.
Now you have no excuse not to include beautiful free photos and art in your writing. Like you, a writer who shares your creations with the world, there are plenty of photographers and artists who do the same. Enjoy their work, and be sure to give them credit when they request it.