Most bloggers don’t go out into the world and take original photos for every post. It’s time-consuming and difficult, and really, when you’re running a business, do you have time to take original photos? Unless photography is your business, the answer is probably not. Fortunately, there are a few places on the web where you can source great stock photos for your blog for free (although most sites require you link back to the site and give credit to the author).
How to Source Photos
You may be unsure how to go about sourcing photos. Doing a Google (or whatever your preferred search engine is) search is generally the easiest way and the option most people try first. However, in order to find photos that are free for commercial use, you have to do an advanced search. Once you’re in the images section of Google, click the gear on the far right side of the page and select advanced search. From there, fill in what you’re looking for and then scroll down to narrow your results. You can generally leave most of the fields blank, but under usage rights, select either free to use or share, even commercially or free to use, share, or modify, even commercially. Doing this will provide you with options for photos that can be used anywhere, even on items you might be selling, as long as you provide credit.
Guidelines for Sourcing Photos
— Always give credit where credit is due.
— Don’t use photos that are watermarked. If a photo has a logo or business name somewhere on it, it’s usually not for public consumption and shouldn’t be modified to fit your needs.
— If you see a photo you like, but it’s not licensed for commercial use, contact the owner. They might just give you permission, as long as you give them credit.
— Take your own photos if possible. It might seem easier to just take a photo from the Internet, but if you don’t do your homework, you may run into a lot of trouble.
— When in doubt, ask permission or find another photo.
Where to Source Photos
Flickr: Use the Creative Commons search function to find photos that are licensed for commercial use. There are hundreds to choose from in a variety of sizes.
Google Search: Do a Google image search and follow the instructions above to find commercially licensed photos.
Wikimedia Commons: This is great for historical photos or government entity-related photos.
Creative Commons: This is separate from the search on Flickr and offers thousands of commercially licensed works of art.
Pixabay: More than 300,000 photos, illustrations, and vector art images/graphics to choose from.
Do you have any tips for sourcing commercially licensed photos? Is there a site you use that we didn’t mention here?