Free Graphics for Your Blog Posts

Photographer Howard Ignatius captures another killer sunset on Morro Strand State Beach

Photo by Mike Biard

A picture is worth a thousand words – even in the world of web 2.0 And because we need pictures so often, finding new and relevant graphic content becomes a challenge for all of us. So here are some resources to find free graphics for your next internet publication.

OK, maybe Free was a little over the top. Even in the suggestions I’m going to make here, you need to at least provide attribution to the creator of the graphic, but that seems to be a small price to pay. Though But with the proliferation of Blogs and is certainly less expensive than buying stock photos (though I would rather see you buying stock photos as I do frequently, than stealing copyright items)

  • Google Images  – Google is the “go to” for almost every search and images are no different. You do however need to be sure of the allowed usage. To accomplish that, make sure you are in Basic Version (you switch between basic and standard versions of Google at the very bottom of their search page). A small box entitled “Advanced Search” will appear and when you scroll down the page you will be allowed to choose images that are labeled for reuse. Just below that, you will be allowed to choose images labeled for commercial use or modification.  In the lower right hand corner of that page, you like on “search images” and your new results appear.  You will restrict your search substantially when you do this. For example a Google images search for the word “firetruck” provides you with 1,510,000 results. When you limit it to images labeled for reuse, the field narrows to 2,550 images. Adding the commercial use limiter takes you down to 140 images. If your use is not commercial but requires you to modify the image, you have 183 choices, and only 139 images allow all three restrictions.
  • Wikimedia Commons – This site is a repository for content contributed by others. According to the site, “The Wikimedia Foundation owns almost none of the content on Wikimedia sites — it is owned by the individual creators. However, almost all may be freely reused without individual permission according to the terms of the particular license under which it was contributed to the project, but some licenses may require that the original creator be attributed.” As a result, while you may feel free to use these images, but I would certainly provide attribution to the original creator just to be careful. The search experience at wikimedia is slightly different, but has the virtues of allowing the searched to search for documents in a large number of languages.
  • Flickr – The CommonsFlickr is possibly my favorite photo sharing community. Many of our readers will be familiar with it for storing and editing their own photos, but they may not be aware of the treasure that can be found in the Commons area of Flickr. here the project is focused on adding descriptions to the public photography collections owned by a variety of well know and respected institutions all over the world from the U.S. and U.K. National Archives to Nasa and the Brooklyn Museum. As the web site proclaims ” It is a requirement for participation in the program that institutions may rightly claim “no known copyright restrictions” on the content they share.” so using the material (again with attribution) is not a problem.  The quantity of older photographs and the amazing variety of subjects leads for great material from here.
  • Flickr-Creative Commons This is where the photos uploaded to Flickr are easily searchable through their Creative Commons License. Creative Commons licenses allow you to know, quickly and easily how the creator is willing to share their photographs. By using this link, you can easily review the types of CC licenses, and then search for images with that specific license. For example the photo used in this blog post was taken by Mike Baird and properly attributed to him. This source, as opposed to the commons, contains a lot of current photos taken by photographers who are willing to share their work with the world.
  • Creative Commons Search – Creative Commons is not a search engine, but this does allow you to search a number of sites with creative common licensed material to find just the graphic you need. Since they don’t have control over the other sites they search, you should again be sure to check the licensing of the graphics prior to use.

Of course, when possible, asking someone for the right to use their graphics is a really good way to obtain needed material, and to create some real relationships. Photographers and artists often are willing to allow their material to be used, but by asking, even if they don;t allow the use, you stay out of trouble- and that’s a worthy goal in itself!

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