Ah, the age old question! “How (and where!) can I find free photos for my blog?” Which then leads into..”How do I know I can use them?” And “How can I tell if my images are being used illegally?”
The internet is literally overloaded with photographs, images and graphics.
It used to be that a simple Google image search gave you exactly what you needed - photos for your blog.
But the problem with this is that people were (hopefully unknowingly) committing a crime and using copyrighted photos on their website or blog.
Businesses were getting sued. People were paying out thousands of pounds in compensation, all for the use of an image on their website.
A couple of years back, Google added a single small line of text under each image when you clicked on it
‘This image may be subject to copyright’
The issue with that, is that it only says ‘may’ be copyrighted. Which means most people automatically think: “well, it may not be, it doesn’t say it actually is” - and use it anyway.
The thing is, photographers, designers and businesses can (and do) track their photographic property online.
There are several ways this can be done.
Before we look at where you can get free photos for your blog (without getting sued) let's look at how you can protect your own images online.
How to Protect Your Images Online
Watermarking Your Images
The most obvious way is to watermark your images. But this creates a huge problem - you get a big ugly watermark across the middle of your photo.
Ok, so you could put a smaller, more delicate watermark on, or a company logo, but regardless of which route you choose, your image can be easily stolen and your watermark or logo removed. Anyone with even a basic knowledge of a design editing programme like Photoshop, can do this in minutes.
Disable Right Click
A few years back, this was the hot thing to do. Website designers and platforms made it a selling point - your images would be safe with them as their platform allowed you to disable right click and therefore prevent people from right clicking and saving your images.
The problem with this method, is that the majority of viewers will see your website on their mobile or read your blog on their iPad.
Where are you reading this blog post right now? If you’re not on your phone or tablet, I bet you have read something on your phone in the last 30 minutes!
So why is this a problem?
Because you can simply tap and hold any image online (regardless of disabling right click scripts) and save the image straight to your phone or tablet.
And even if that could be avoided (which it can’t) you can also simply screenshot an image.
No luck there either then!
Nope, not The Flash (hi Barry Allen!!), Flash software.
Flash was a huge part of the web 15-20 years ago and pretty much everything was created with this software.
But then, people fell head over heels for Apple. And Apple products don't run Flash, so millions of iPad, iPhone & Mac users wouldn’t even see your beautiful photographs. Pretty horrific if you’re a photographer, and bad for everyone else too!
Shrink Wrapping Images
The problem with this is that it is also easy to get around, if you know how.
So what can you do to stop your images from being stolen online?
In short, not a lot. Basically, if you don't want any risk of your images being stolen, don’t post them online. That goes for your website, blog and social media accounts.
But that would make for a pretty boring world now wouldn’t it?!
There are however, a couple of things you can do to deter someone from stealing and using your images.
Add Copyright In Camera
Check to see if your camera allows you to edit the EXIF data in-camera. Most decent ones do and you can snap away, knowing that your copyright information is automatically being applied to every photo your take.
Copyright Your Images On The Backend
When uploading your images to Photoshop or Lightroom, edit the EXIF data with a copyright infringement notice, your name, website and email.
Use A Logo, Rather Than A Watermark
If you are a photographer or artist or designer, put a small but visible logo in a corner of your photo. This won't completely stop a thief from stealing it, but it will make their job one step harder as they will then have to remove it.
Besides, a logo is great for brand recognition, so see it as a good thing, not a bad thing!
Upload Lower Resolution Images To Social Media & Your Website / Blog
Photographers in particular hate the idea of doing this! But I promise, as a professional Wedding & Portrait Photographer myself, only you ‘may’ see a slight difference in the quality. The average person viewing your photos online won’t notice a thing.
Add A Free DMCA Badge To Your Website
The DMCA protects all your website photos and videos. You can sign up for a FREE account here or pick the low cost monthly account for advanced protection & services.
The DMCA offer a free takedown service if your content is stolen too. If you use wordpress, grab the plugin, or simply insert a small piece of code onto your website yourself.
Reverse Image Search
If you’re really worried, you can run a ‘reverse image search’ and find out if your photos are being used elsewhere on the web. But if you have many images, this pretty time consuming!
Some people simply don't realise that they are breaking the law by using your content and a simple call or email to let them know will usually result in them apologising profusely and taking the content down themselves.
To use reverse image searching, go to https://reverse.photos/ and upload your image. Check to see if any of your images match the results, click on it and visit the website to see who is using it.
So, now you know how to protect your images online, what works and what doesn’t, let’s get into how you can find free, legal photos for your own website or blog.
Where to Find free photos online
There are actually a ton of different places where you can source free, legal images for your website or blog. This following websites contain are my absolute favourite places for finding free stock images online and are suitable for commercial use.
There are many other sites available, and some are good, some not so good. I know that just like me, your a busy Entrepreneur, so I'm only going to give you the very best!
The most important thing to check is that the image you are about to use has a Creative Commons License.
By far, Canva is my favourite for sourcing stock images as well as creating infographics, blog headers, webinar slides and so much more.
Canva has over 1,500,000 free and premium stock photos which are fully licensed for you to use.
Not only can use their free photos for your website and blog within a graphic or design, you can also create a design that contains a full width image and download it to use in another editing programme such as Photoshop.
Sometimes though, you may want to find free photos from other sources and upload them into Canva, or use them elsewhere.
Here are my top 5 sites to grab your free photos from!
I love Pixabay too! It’s next up on my list as they have a great selection (over 1.4 MILLION!) of free photos, videos, vectors and illustrations and graphics for you to use.
Another fabulous website for free stock photos is Pexels, which you can use for commercial purposes without having to give attribution to the owner.
Pexels have also launched Pexels Video where you can grab free video clips too!
Have you heard of Burst? Neither had I until recently, but I’m so glad I did!
Burst is created by Shopify and is amazing! Filled with gorgeous, high resolution free images for you to use!
If I’m honest Unsplash used to be hit or miss for me. Now though, they seem to have upped their game and their selection of images is great!
Definitely check them out when you're next looking for free photos online!
Freephotos.cc is another beautifully designed website that hosts free photos online for entrepreneurs to use.
The photos themselves actually come from Pexels (see above), but sometime you’ll see something on one site that you won't on another - simply due to the arrangement of the images. Well worth a look!