Free Stock Photos
Finding images for your website can be a real challenge, especially on a tight budget.
Often, the effort turns into a tedious and time consuming task!
You’re searching for just the right “look” – an image with relevance to your blog post’s topic AND that compliments your website’s design or overall theme. Although one’s interpretation of such things is quite subjective, it is nonetheless taxing at times.
Oh, and we always like free images.
Image credit: Public Domain Images “Old Vintage Camera” more info ⇓
Ever wondered what the above word or symbol means?
It’s time you learned.
Why? Because you can end up paying $4,000 for a $10 photo (yes, that’s four THOUSAND).
You must make sure there are not any copyright infringement issues associated with the images you have chosen.
In other words, don’t take that which is not yours.
Allow me to provide an example.
A few years back, a friend of mine provided a lead to a potential customer – a local business owner.
I was told they were unhappy with their existing website, website design and website designer.
I thought to myself, “it can’t be THAT bad”, so the first thing I did was visit the website in question.
I immediately noticed several issues with the site that needed to be addressed, things like confusing navigation, poor content, difficult to read fonts and more. Nothing I hadn’t seen before.
But there was one thing that stood out like a sore thumb.
It was their company logo, which is typically placed in the header (or top portion) of a website, and is intended to be one of the most visible elements for website visitors.
But I noticed this logo for a very different reason.
It had a “watermark” prominently stamped across its center!
The image below is a copy of what I discovered. I notified the business owner, who had no idea what a watermark was, but only that their logo looked “strange”. They promptly replaced the logo.
What is a Watermark?
First, allow me to define my use of the term “image”.
In the context of this article, when I make reference to an “image”, I am including photographs, drawings, illustrations, graphics, clipart, etc.
If you can see it, and it isn’t editable text, then it is most likely an “image”.
A watermark is any secondary image (it might include some text), usually stamped across a primary image. The purpose of the watermark is to “brand” and protect the copyright associated with the primary image.
In the example above, the primary image is a golden fleur-de-lis symbol. The watermark is the small, camera icon with the word “iStockphoto” that appears in light gray across the center of the image.
The watermark is intentionally translucent, or semitransparent, so that the primary image is easy to see, but obtrusive enough that (hopefully) no one would attempt to use it without proper authorization.
I could not find the original “watermarked” version of the image, but here is one very similar on iStockphoto.
What is Copyright?
Copyright is basically a legal concept that grants exclusive ownership and other rights, or privileges, to the copyright owner.
In the context of images, the person that “created” the image, whether by taking a photograph, drawing an illustration, or other means, owns the copyright for that image.
Here is a nice Wikipedia article explaining the copyright concept in more detail along with some interesting background and historical information.
Why Do So Many People Violate Copyrights?
In most cases, I believe it is a purely innocent act, due to ignorance of copyright law and the ease with which one can copy, save, and reuse images on the Internet.
For personal use it is doubtful that the copyright police are going to kick your door down, but it is important to know that it is probably a violation.
As for commercial use, one must be much more careful.
If you make use of a copyrighted image in your website design and it contains a watermark, it will look very unprofessional, and reflect poorly on your organization.
It can also cause you to get a nasty email or phone call from the copyright holder, requiring you to remove the image or temporarily shut down your website until the issue is resolved. This applies to Facebook business pages as well.
You can also run into copyright infringement even if the image is not watermarked.
Public Domain Images
First, be sure you understand some of the jargon.
There are two main categories of images, those that are “free” and those that must be purchased.
“Free” images are most often referred to as being in the “Public Domain”.
Public Domain images typically have one or more of the following stipulations:
- Free to use for personal or commercial purposes
- Free to use for personal use, but NOT commercial
- Free to use without any attribution (meaning, no mention of the original owner)
- Free to use, with proper attribution
- Free to use if you notify the owner how, and where, the image is being used
- Free to use ONLY with written permission from the copyright holder
There are many websites online that provide Public Domain images, and some of the images are of very high quality.
The Public Domain Archive
One example is the Public Domain Archive.
Their homepage reads, “Beautiful Public Domain Images for Free”.
And I must say, these are some of the highest quality photographs I have seen anywhere online – free, paid or premium! (see their photo at the top of this post)
From their website:
“We are a public domain image repository. We are a site where you come to explore and discover treasures by other great photographers. A place to find inspiration and photography that you can re-use in your creative projects. If you are expecting shutterstock, you will probably be disappointed. We aren’t trying to re-create the wheel, we are trying to create one place where you can come to be inspired to create something amazing. I hope that you will join me on this journey as I try to create an amazing website where you can explore thousands of high resolution public domain images.” ~ Matt
I think Matt has succeeded in his quest. A job very well done!
No matter where you locate Public Domain images, be sure to read the licensing terms associated with each image very carefully.
Tip: When searching for free images on the web, use the search phrase “public domain images” so that you avoid “royalty-free” images, which are discussed in the next section.
Premium Stock Images
There are many times when you simply cannot find an appropriate “free” image for your needs.
This is when you may want to consider “Royalty Free” images. This is NOT to be interpreted as no cost. It means there are no recurring fees after you purchase an image.
Services that provide premium, royalty-free images typically offer the following plans:
- Purchase each image on an as-needed basis
- Purchase ‘credits” that you can apply toward future image downloads (this method works well because you receive a discount when purchased in bulk)
- Purchase a subscription that allows you to download a specified number of images over the life of the agreement
Incorporating images into your website design can greatly enhance its visual appeal and the user experience, but it requires more than just locating the perfect image. Performing a little research regarding the licensing of your selected image can prevent some embarrassing moments and help you avoid potential legal issues.
Lastly, remember that you may already have a hard-drive full of images that you photographed yourself.
With digital images, you can easily re-size, crop, and edit your own images and look (almost) like a pro, and YOU are the copyright holder!
Good luck with your Image Search.
“I’m not a particularly verbose person. I think that’s why I like taking pictures… they speak for themselves.” ~ Jeb Dickerson
Bizeeo Marketing Agency is an image-friendly Website Designer. We’re located in Midtown Montgomery near Zelda Rd and Hillwood Shopping Center.
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