Play it Safe with Images

Free Image Sources for your web project

Google Image Search
Google Image Search

In today’s web, a good site needs imagery; design, colors, and yes, even photos. Finding them (for free) on the internet for re-use can be difficult, if not downright dangerous. Here, I’ll give you a tip or two on doing just that.

A week or so ago I received a letter from Getty Images‘ Legal Department, claiming my unauthorized use of a licensed image here on my site. (YIKES!!!)

Reading further into the documentation, I realized that they had made a mistake, and a phone call later it was cleared up. However, the mental panic of being targeted for $1000 before it was solved was a bit unnerving. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Firstly, as you should already know, you can’t just grab any image off the net and use it. There are copyrights and licenses in place to protect the photographer, artist, designer, etc. If you do, and you get caught, running won’t help you.

So what to do? Well below are few tips for finding free online images for your web use. 

Top 7 Free Image Sources

  1. Google
    Go to Google & enter the search term. Look on the left side-bar & click “Images”. Here you’ll see lots of images and many filtering options in the left sidebar. You’re not finished yet. Look under the Search box on the right & click on “Advanced Search”. The filtering option almost at the bottom of the page is what we’re looking for – Usage Rights. Needless to say, Google’s Image Search rocks.
  2. Flickr
    One of the cool things about Flickr is that it allows you to search and filter by Licensing. They even allow for uploads to be tagged with their Creative Commons licensing.
  3. CompFight
    A 3rd party interface into Flickr, this tool provides even more advanced search features.
  4. Flickr Storm
    A simple interface that not only pulls in Flickr images relevant to your search, but it also pulls in what it believes to be related images as well. And of course, they have options for searching via licensing.
  5. EveryStockPhoto
    A free license-specific photo search engine with some cool parameters.
  6. Stock.Xchng
    Free image search with relaxed licensing, not requiring attribution. However, be careful of the higher quality, not free iStockphoto thumbnails right next to the free results.
  7. 123 RF
    This place offers both paid and free stock images. The free selection is of smaller sized images.

So that’s that in a nutshell. I hope you now have a launching pad to do some of your searchings for design inspiration, images, etc., and never receive one of those letters!

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