Images are increasingly important on the web when it comes to blogging and creating content. Often times a blog with no images is skimmed over as “just another spam blog” and the reader (or crawl bot) doesn’t give the content on the page a fighting chance. It could be the best content in the world, if the page doesn’t have at least one eye-catching element somewhere on it people are likely to click away.
Sometimes product images are fine, other times a personal photo is appropriate, maybe you put together a fun little infographic. But sometimes you need something a little different and you find yourself searching the web for a graphic you can use in that blog post…
Morgue File is one of the best free stock image sources on the internet. The files on Morgue File can generally be used for any purpose without attribution.
You can reproduce the image, alter the image, use just a part or the whole thing, create derivative works and even redistribute the image. It’s as close to no license as you’re going to get. Note that images might have more stringent licenses. Make sure you check the license for the specific image you plan on using.
Stock.xchng is another free stock image website. It also has an enormous selection of images. If you’re looking for free images, try checking both SXC.hu and Morgue File before making your selection.
The image license on Stock.xchng is quite similar to Morgue File, but a little more stringent. You can use the image in whole or in part and you can alter the image. You can create derivative works. You cannot give redistribution rights and you need to ask permission before using the images for print media.
Again, check the specific license for the image you’re using.
iStockPhoto is one of the most well known stock photo sites on the internet. They have millions of extremely high quality images to choose from. However, it’s also one of the most expensive sites for purchasing stock images and often times you can find the same images at other stock sites for less money.
Stock photos you get on paid sites are almost always far higher quality than photos you’d find on free stock photo sites. Often time’s you’ll only be able to find a good photo on a paid stock photo site.
Generally these sites work on a sliding scale, depending on the resolution you need. The higher the resolution of the photo, the more you pay. Instead of using cash, iStockPhoto uses a credit system. You buy credits, then spend them on images.
Dreamstime is another major paid stock image website. Much like iStockPhoto, Dreamstime uses a credit system. They are generally less expensive than iStockPhoto, sometimes you’ll find the same images on both sites, but notably there is a lot more junk and fluff to sort through on Dreamstime than there is on iStock.
Dreamstime allows you to buy different kinds of licenses for your images. Two common licenses are their “Royalty Free” license and their “Extended License” license.
The Royalty Free license allows you to use the image on the internet, on advertising material, CD covers, presentations and other kinds of single-use media. The Extended License allows you to redistribute the image in web templates, in screensavers, on T-Shirts and other kinds of redistribution media.
Dreamstime also offers free images in addition to their paid catalog. The selection isn’t as large, but there are some nice images available at no cost that can definitely help get you through a single post or a small project.
Clipart is a very different kind of art. Clipart is generally made from vector graphics. It’s created graphics rather than photographed graphics.
Clipart generally isn’t used as the primary graphic. Instead, it’s used to supplement other images. For example, you might look for thought bubbles or “light bulb over the head” kind of graphics on a clipart site. You could also use it to find arrows, checkmarks and other formatting related images.
Open Clipart is one of the biggest free clipart sites on the net. From the home page of this site, they say the images in the public domain, meaning you can use it without attribution in any way you want.
Wherever you find your images, always make sure that you double-check the licenses for each individual image you use. Remember, images can be licensed differently, even if you purchased them all on the same stock image website.