While text is obviously important for a website or blog, images are no less significant. While there are many sites that sell images, finding free images on the Internet can be part of the battle course. One moment… we can’t take any image we find on google and just install it on a page of our site?
Well, yes and no. If you take an image, download it and then put it on your site with impunity, the answer is no. The image is subject to copyright, so unless you have explicit permission from the original owner, you cannot. However, you can contact the original author, and politely ask permission to use his work. If he allows you to, the answer is yes! But make sure you get a written answer. Maybe he will ask you, in exchange, to cite the source in your article, or to put a link to his site.
But why use royalty-free images?
Good question! A quality image is most of the time made by a professional photographer, he too must earn a good living, right? Then why won’t you pay for that? You thief! Well, the answers can obviously be multiple. A novice blogger, for example, will probably want to spend as little as possible. The freelancer has a client who pays him with a slingshot, so he has to keep expenses to a minimum. You may just be making a site for your summer trip and you need to save for your plane ticket. Or are you of Scottish origin and therefore stingy to the tip of your nails? Ah! Prejudices have a hard life!
So what do we do? Of course, you can always turn to paid sites. In case you are a web professional, for example an agency, a site developer, a freelancer, this is probably the solution to choose. Ultimately, you will charge this image to your customer, with, why not, a small supplement. These sites are numerous, the most known obviously are shutterstock, adobe, getty and its subsidiaries. These last sites for example will make you believe that they also have free images available, but it is only a illusion! Probably they have a section of course, but it is so hard to find that you will quickly give up. On the other hand, if you don’t need too much resolution, you can still get it for not too much.
Rights to use royalty-free images
You have to be careful when you appropriate other people’s work. It doesn’t matter if it is a photo, a graphic element, an icon, a vector drawing or even a video. He still does have someone who has spent time creating that content. Some do it out of passion, many do it out of hobby. But most still do it for a living. The rights you have when you purchase an image, free or not, depend on the type of license to which these images are subject.
Creative Commons Licenses
Creative commons is an organization born in 2002. Its objective was to provide content authors with a tool that guarantees copyright while facilitating free circulation. Today it is very widespread not only for images, but also for computer code, music, or models for 3D printing. In short, for any creation that an author wants to protect. That’s good, right? But we must be careful! People often get confused. They think that because the work is under a Creative Commons license, they can do whatever they want with it. No way! There are different license levels. For example, the CC BY level requires you to name the author. Moreover, you should know that this measure is mandatory many countries!
The only Creative Commons level that lets you do anything is CC 0, the most open level, while CC BY-NC-ND is the most restrictive.
A work subject to copyright may not be used. But what works are subject to copyright? Well… almost all of them! These are in fact those whose author resides in one of the 175 countries that have acceded to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. In fact, a work is automatically protected by law simply because it exists. In the European Union, apart from Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom, which apply copyright, authors’ rights are used instead. Copyright is a collection of laws governing intellectual property. The term of copyright, like that of author’s right, depends on the country in which it is applied.
So where can you find free images?
Several sites offer excellent quality images for free. I’ll start with my favorite.
Unsplash is, in my opinion, without context the best site to find the gem.
Search results are done on the fly. It also offers various categories related, a bit like Pinterest. Best of all: you don’t even have to register to download!
Unsplash also offers collections that will make your research much easier. These collections include photos with similar themes or characteristics. For example, a shade of color, or the urban theme, etc….
Pixabay is also great for finding royalty-free images. There are not only photos, but also vector images and drawings, often very useful.
Another advantage of Pixabay: it is in many languages.
Rawpixel is great too. Attention, there is a paying section, it is sometimes a little confusing.
Pikwizard is a treasure trove, the images are really of excellent quality. Recommended. It integrates an online editing tool and the ability to make a direct link to the image by providing you with a code to integrate into your site.
Pexels is also very good, to note that it sometimes takes pictures from other sites like pixabay.
Freely photos specializes in photos related to the Christian religion, but not only, you will find free images on a little of everything.
Travel coffee book
Travelcoffeebook is ideal if you want to find free images for your travel blog.
Finding royalty-free images isn’t that hard. The sites which propose them are numerous, and often of good quality. Sites that offer paid images are obviously better provided, and often several versions of the same photo are available, under a different angle or lighting. So your choice is much wider!
What’s your favorite site? Do you have any other sources? Suggest them to me so I can update my list!