Where to Find Great (and Legal) Images to Use on Your Website

Photograph of black lab sleeping

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but maybe not thousands of dollars in copyright infringement penalties.

Ok that was a terrible joke BUT I know that a lot of website owners struggle with where to find images. For many, their first instinct is to browse Google Image Search and grab the first relevant image you find. This is not a good idea and could result in a hefty fine.

Cutting right to the chase, here are 5 of my favorite websites for easy, royalty free images:

Buuuuuut here’s the thing: these libraries are limited. When I can’t find what I need on those sites, I will either:

Pay for my images. I have two websites I turn to 9 times out of ten for my stock photos. The first, and the cheapest, is BigStockPhoto.com. Relative to other stock photos websites, their photos are quite inexpensive (less than $10 for a large, web-sized photo). I recommend buying a credit package instead of a subscription package unless you will be downloading multiple images per week. They DO want you to do the subscription though, so when you visit their plans and pricing page, be sure to click this button to access the credit package options:

This is a perfect resource for your everyday blog images and site graphics. BUT if you need something really special, perhaps for a prominent place in your design, perhaps something you’re willing to spend a pretty penny on, I LOVE stocksy.com. You’ll drop $25 – $50 a photo,  but their whole mission is stock photos that don’t look like stock photos.

Turn to Flickr.com. Flickr has two advantages: lots of users, and a pro-Creative Commons interface. If you’re not familiar with Creative Commons, here’s the description direct from Wikipedia: an American non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.

In short, they want people to share stuff for free!

To use Flickr to find photos for your site, go to Flickr.com and type in your query in the search box at the top.

Adjust the license filter to reflect your needs. If you use your website professionally, be sure to select “Commercial use allowed” or one of the options below that.

Find a photo you like and click on it! The check what license terms apply at the bottom right below the photo (see highlighted section in photo below).

If there are “some rights reserved,” be sure to click on the link to discover which apply. The most common is “Attribution” which just means the photographer wants credit! Reasonable enough, I think. Give a shoutout to the Flickr user under the photo or in your post somewhere and link their name to their Flickr user account. Pretty easy, right?

Thanks, nguyen hoangnam for that cute photo of the dogs!

Incidentally, the photo I used for the Featured Image on this website has no known restrictions, which is symbolized by the C with the slash over it and means I can use the photo without attribution.

But thanks Matt Cooper, anyway!

I hope this post will help you avoid getting into trouble with finding images for your website, and feel free to reach out if you need any assistance!

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