In recent years images have become a vital content tool when it comes to creating a website.
However, finding images that you can use on your website can be a daunting task. The first stumbling block for many website owners is the uncertainty over whether or not an image can be used. This is a totally understandable reservation to have, as nobody wants to be on the bad end of a copyright claim.
So before we start, lets take a quick look at the most common licenses that you will come across when it comes to sourcing images:
These are images in which the intellectual property rights attributed to the image have expired, or the owner of the image has released them into the public domain free of charge. Put simply, these images can be used any way you see fit.
These images could be attributed to several available Creative Commons licenses. Some licenses require a credit to be given, whereas some allow the image to be used as long as it is unchanged. You need to ensure that you read the license attributed to an image before you use it, and follow the correct procedures where appropriate.
Now, the name of this one can sometimes be deceiving. Just because it says ‘Royalty Free’, doesn’t mean that the image can be used for free. Simply put, it means that once you have purchased the image you can use it as many times as you want.
With this license, the image can be used a limited amount of times. If you want to use the image more than the amount defined within the license, you will have to pay for the privilege.
There are numerous other licenses available online and ultimately it is down to the individual to ensure that they follow the correct procedure. However, if you are ever unsure, hold off using the image and email the owner or service to clarify – it is better to be safe than sorry.
It is also worth pointing out the importance of ensuring that you have the right account for the service that you are using. Some image services offer accounts for organisations whereas others don’t, so make sure that you have signed up for the type of account that is in keeping with your project and the work that you are going to be undertaking.
So, now that we have briefly covered the legal side of things, lets take a look at our top picks for sourcing images.
Shutterstock lets subscribers download a certain number of photos per day during the length of a subscription, for which you sign up for and will have to pay a fee. For example, as a one-month subscriber you can download 25 images per day.
iStock is another paid service that offers millions of royalty-free images. There are two different types of subscription services, the ‘essentials subscription’ and the ‘signature subscription’, that can be paid for either monthly or yearly. iStock also offers a pay per download service that offers credits for downloads.
Flickr is a site that continues to grow in popularity everyday. It is relatively simple to use; simply search using the creative commons license for free images and ensure that you provide attribution and a link back to the source.
Unsplash is a simple site to look at. However, they have a really great collection of fantastic high-res images that are updated every 10 days and can be downloaded for free.
Pixabay offers users use of a rapidly growing database of public domain images. These images can be included on your website without any attribution to the source.
Pexels is another great source for free images. The website is updated daily with 10 new, high quality images and the license for each image is also conveniently located to the right.
Bonus source – Your own images
An option for image sourcing that is often overlooked is to create them in-house. Whether you have a photographer on the team or you create the images personally; they are free and you own the rights, so it is well worth giving it a try.
And there you have it. Happy sourcing!