There is no question that photos capture attention and add visual interest to your blog. The trouble is, finding the right photos can be frustrating and time-consuming. Here are some tips on where to find both paid-for and free stock photos to legally use on your blog posts.
Free photos are available from a wide number of sites. My three favorites are: morgueFile (at morguefile.com), stock.xchng (at sxc.hu) and Flickr (see the link below). An advantage of Morgue file is its convenient crop and resize tool: that means you can crop and resize a photo right then and there, online! Stock.xchng lets you save images you like in a lightbox (a leftover word from the days when you looked at film or slides on a table or box lit from underneath), so you can save an interesting image that you don’t need now but may need in the future. On Stock Exchange, look for usage notes under each photo. Some photographers insist on being notified before you use their photo. Some want attribution (a credit on your post about whose photo in it is). Others want nothing. Please respect the wishes of these creative people who are generous enough to share their work.
Flickr is a social media photo sharing site with millions of photos. But not everything is there for you to use. When searching Flickr go to http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0/ and search for photos in this section. These are images protected by an attribution license: you can use the photos on your blog as long as you credit the photographer under the photo or at the end of the article. It sometimes takes some time looking, but the results can be worth it.
A word about free photos: although there are some really good photos on these sites, the quality varies. It often takes looking through lots of thumbnails before you get what you want. If getting photos for free is important to you, do spend time looking. There are some real gems out there. Keep focused, and know what you’re looking for.
Photos you pay for
Paid stock photo sites also are plentiful. Here, you pay for the photos; on the other hand, the choice tends to be greater and the caliber of photos more consistent. If time is important to you, consider this option. Many of the stock photo sites enable you to purchase photo credits, which can be used to purchase photos over a specified period of time. CanStock Photos (at canstockphoto.com) and Photos.com (at photos.com) are favorites of mine. You’ll notice on these sites that different size photos are priced differently. Choose web-sized – the smallest – if your only use is for blog posts. Web-sized photos tend to be priced at 1 to 2 dollars per image: entirely reasonable, considering your time, the photo quality and the fact that you can reuse the photos.
Know what you’re looking for
Searching for blog photos takes time, no matter which source you use. Keep an open mind when you search and go with what strikes you. Photos should tell a story and illustrate your point or concept. Before you start searching, think about what you’re writing about. What is the most important point? Brainstorm a list of words and use them as keywords for your photo search. Keep focused.