Put an Image On it: How to Find Free Images for your Posts

creative commons -Franz Patzig-

creative commons- (Photo credit: A. Diez Herrero)

It all seems so simple, but when it comes time to add an image to whatever you’re posting, many are faced with similar confusion: where can you go to quickly grab a quality, free, legal image to insert into your latest Facebook post, website or blog?

At Campaign Consultation, and on blogs like this one, we’ve cultivated a few resources over the years that help us find images that meet all of the above standards, while also telling our story.

Below are a few resources that will help you put an image on it, whatever it may be.

  • Google Image Search: The straight-up Google Image Search won’t return the goods you’re hunting for; with no filter, Google shows you copyrighted material. Google also knows non-profits, students, and other free image seekers are looking for legal ways to use their powerful search results, so they’ve added an advanced filtering option to allow for image searches that are “Labeled for Reuse” and even “Labeled for Commercial Reuse”. To use this functionality, simply start your image search. Once results are returned, click the gear in the upper right-hand corner of the search page and choose “Advanced Search”. At the very bottom of the Advanced search options is “Usage Rights” which you can change to meet your needs. Results will filter accordingly.
  • Creative Commons SearchCreative Commons is a licensing structure that allows for freer distribution of content, including media, and more sharing across the web. Typically, authors of Creative Commons works license their property by simply asking for attribution when it is shared. Some do not want you to use the property for commercial reasons, and others require you to share/share alike, which means you must allow others to share the piece. The site provides links to several comprehensive Creative Commons search engines. My two favorite are Flickr Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons.
  • Microsoft Office Images: We all know the positively cartoonish Microsoftt Office Clipart, but may not know that Microsoft actually has a huge database of real photographs that can be used for our posts. Type in your search term and then filter the results to “Photo” (left-hand side). You can also filter by size. It’s a quick way to get simple images that you usually don’t have to worry about attributing.
  • If you use WordPress as your blogging platform, consider adding the Editorial Assistant by Zemanta plugin for an easy way to include images that come with their own attributions. Zemanta will automatically evaluate your blog text and throw out some image suggestions; if you don’t like them, you can search for specific terms and the images associated with them. The plugin also allows you to quickly add links and related posts.  The only issue I have seen with this plugin is that sometimes the captions that come with the pictures are too long and need to be edited down.
  • stock.xchangeThis site includes free images for download and use, but be sure you read their legal information before using them. There is a wider range of images on this site, and if you’d prefer, you could opt to use iStockPhoto options, which are part of a paid (but relatively cheap) photo site that shows up in a separate section of their search results.

What photo sites do you use to find quality, free, and legal images? Let us know in the comments section below.

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