Many people search on Google and steal any images they find willy-nilly without ever considering the copyright on the original photos. Mostly people who think everything on the net is public domain. But if you’re running a proper blog, and creating your own content, you know that’s not true. But that leaves you with three choices for photos and graphics:
- Make your own (on your own desktop or using apps and websites);
- Buy it from some pay-per-photo sites; or,
- Find free sites.
Lots of sites advertise “free” photos but many are the internet’s version of a drug dealer…they’ll offer you a free sample of a couple of photos or graphics to give you a taste, and once you’re hooked, charge you through the nose for the next batch. And the one after that. And suggest you upgrade to a subscription model which seems incredibly cheap when you’re first setting up your blog when you need dozens of photos, but if you don’t use tons of photos in your site later, it’s a bit of a cash cow for them.
However, earlier this week, someone posted the question on the WP Beginner group on FaceBook, asking where to find images. And the responses poured in rapidly. Some are good, some were silly. Here are the ones I found worthwhile.
I should flag that while many of the other suggested sites had decent photos, many had licenses that were restrictive. For example, many require attribution to say “Image by Jane Photographer”. Which is fair. But if I’m using it for a featured image on my blog, which might be attached to multiple pages or posts, how do you include that? Some people put it in the ALT TEXT, but that isn’t visible and doesn’t meet the requirements of the license. Others just add it to the footer, or create a credits page. All of which are doable, but not something I am ready to add to my updating regime. No, I want free for personal or commercial use (my site isn’t commercial, but some jurisdictions might treat it as such), no attribution required. Often you can find sites that require either attribution or a paid membership, but for a random photo here and there? Not really worth it to me. I already have my own photos as well as extensive clipart collections I’ve bought over the years. If I have to pay again, I can probably find an alternate image.
The most popular one for photos is called Unsplash. I’ve blogged about it before, and at the time, my reaction was:
A site called Unsplash has free images for use, and many of them are even available for commercial use if need be. People, landscape, buildings…lots of choices. One of the things I often “test” when I’m looking at a site is whether or not they have photos of frogs and what kinds. Simple or full-on tree frogs. It’s what I want for PolyWogg from time to time, so it’s a “real” test. Unsplash has a bunch […] which isn’t bad, and while none of them are OMG AWESOME, they’re certainly usable for a blog post if I want something. For those doing an article about a city, you’re likely to find well-known landmarks easily.
That was written a little over a year ago, and so I played with it a bit more today. I’m quite impressed with the sheer volume. And the updated license is pretty unequivocal:
All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.https://unsplash.com/license | Unsplash
Another popular suggestion is Pexels.com. It too has an open license, although if you want to use the images on commercial products, you have to modify it somehow (no straight inclusion). However, they also have video options to include, not that I can think of when I would ever want that function. Stock footage, I guess. Pixabay is also popular, and includes a few graphics here and there (* note my revision below). Not many, and the randomness seems almost accidental. Their license is similar to Pexels…if you want to print it on something commercial, you have to adapt it first. Another backup option suggested was Foter. Decent, not inspiring.
Graphics, vectors and clipart
But honestly, outside of some meme creation where I might use photos in the background, my main need for my site is not photos but graphics or clipart (the latest “phrasing” is to call them all “vectors”). For featured images in my blog, I usually prefer graphics, even whimsical ones, to actual photos, so I went looking for good sites.
So I too asked on WP Beginner. Oddly enough, Pixabay came up again as a suggestion. I had noted above that when I searched, there were some graphics with it, but it seemed random/accidental. I really only saw photos. However, when I saw Pixabay come up again as a suggestion but for graphics, I went looking again. Sure enough, there is a “vectors” area. The default search says it will search all of the areas at once, but I didn’t find those options earlier, so I must have somehow had a filter on. I found a really great graphic that might be a better option than another 5 or 6 that I already had as options. Nice!
I also found Public Domain Vectors which has a great collection. Lots of choice, lots of options. Most likely my goto option with Pixabay.
Now I’m ready to rock.