Not a day goes by when I’m in need of that perfect picture that sums up a thousand words. Be it an image for a blog post, a social media graphic, an eye-catching leaflet . . . you get the idea.
When I started out, my tool of choice was my good old 35mm film camera. Yes, it was tedious having to take the film into town and wait a week for the pictures to be developed, but there wasn’t much else. That was until I splashed out on a digital camera and was soon eagerly filling up the memory card and seeing the results on my computer without delay.
How things have moved on over the past 20 years. Yes, digital photography has got a whole lot easier and taking your own photos can still be a great idea, however, nowadays it couldn’t be easier to discover millions of photographs online from a raft of image libraries.
It sounds really easy to source that perfect picture, however, I'm always being asked
- Can I use Google Images for my social media?
- Where can I get free images for use in my blog or website?
- Is it worth paying for images?
Let’s delve into the detail . . .
1: Can I use Google Images for my social media?
The quick answer is no and the correct answer is maybe.
I think it’s good to understand where Google obtains all the images from in the first place. When Google trawls the internet look for websites to rank in its search engine it is also possible for them to trawl images too and so it has been able to build a vast library of all the images it finds whilst wandering around the internet. Basically the images originated from someone's website.
In principal using them for your own use will most probably be a breach of copyright. I mean would you be happy if someone used your photographs for free.
Now there may be some copyright free images or others with licenses which allow 3rd party use but it’s much safer to steer clear of Google images when you're looking for images to use.
2: Where can I get a free image for use in my blog and website?
OK, I get it, you don’t want to pay for images, that’s why you like Google images, however, there is still a very large choice of images that are free to use without any strings attached. That's right, you won't need to worry yourself about copyright issues. What you need to look for is a term called "Creative Commons CC0"
Any reputable image library will provide information on their site or per image as to the licensing. CC0 means the copyright has been waived.
Full details : https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en
Three of my go-to free image libraries are Pixably, Unsplash and Pexels. Browse and enjoy but don't blame me if you spend too much time browsing all of the inspiring images.
3: Is it worth paying for images?
We all like something for free, however, there are times when you’re looking for that perfect picture. Some days the free sites only manage to come up with something which paints 900 words and you’re looking to paint 1000. It’s time to open your wallet and bring out some cash.
Whilst the free sites are very good and getting better as time passes, the paid sites do offer larger libraries and in some sectors more professional images. The licensing can be complex and sometimes confusing, however, don't be put off exploring and you don’t always have to melt your credit card to get an image.
If you are working with a client and producing mock-ups or proofs you can download a watermarked image for free and then only commit to the purchase once you need to.
Here are three sites for you to browse . . .