Find Free Photos for Your Blog

Finding free pictures for your blog can be tricky (at least if you want to do it legally).  I have searched all over the place and found lots of sites to buy pictures (like ), some free photo sites…but it seems like all the free stuff out there just looks cheap.

Believe it or not, the best place that I have found to get good quality legal photos for your blog or website is through Flickr.com.

But how can you tell which pictures on Flickr you can use and which ones you can’t?  After all, isn’t it a place where anyone can just dump images whenever and wherever they please?  Yes, it is…but there is a very easy way to find good pictures that you can use and modify.

All you need to do is go to Flickr and click on the “Search” Box:

flickr_search

Now choose the “Advanced Search” option:

flickr_advanced_search

Now scroll down the page to the section for called “Creative Commons.” You will find a few check boxes as seen here:

flickr_creativecommons_checks

These boxes are indicating

  1. Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content – This is saying that you want to only search content that specifies the license along with the photo. You want this because this will tell you the way that you are allowed to use the images. Without this information, you would have to guess…and maybe guess wrong.
  2. Find content to use commercially – This will display only photos that are licensed in a way where you can use them to make money. If your goal is to make money, you want to check this box.
  3. Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon – This will show only images that you are allowed to modify. You may want to manipulate the crop or color, or you may want to use a part of the image as a part of a bigger project. These images will permit you to do just that.


A search for the keyword “Obama” using those search terms yields 41,339 results, mostly of the President Barack Obama:

flickr_obama

Most of the pictures that you will find using a Google image search when you are looking for political images will actually be owned by the Associated Press (AP). The AP has very strict usage terms on their images. Many people want to fight this, saying that people can use these images based on fair use, but when you are trying to make money, fair use because an issue that only a jury can really decide…and really, how many of us really want to find out that way?

Ok, back to the pictures…

If you open one of the images, you will find something like the following:

flickr_obama2

Hey, what a great example…all I have to do is say that I got this image from Beth Rankin on Flickr (notice how I link to her picture), and I have used her picture in accordance with her licensing agreement which she made using Creative Commons on Flickr.

So, how do you know what their licensing terms are? Well, in Beth’s picture above, I circled the “All Sizes” icon. Click on that to see all the different sizes that the image has been uploaded at, along with some other useful information. It will display the different image options along the top, but it will also display the Creative Commons licensing terms using icons at the bottom of the image:

flickr_cc_graphics

Simply clicking on those icons will give you an explanation of what manner the owner of image would like it to be used. In the example above, the icon of the man with the circle around it indicates that that author would like to be linked to when using the image. That’s it. All you need to do is give a link back to the original author, and you’re free to use the image however you would like (in this case). Different authors and pictures have different terms of use, so be sure to read it each time you use one, but it is usually pretty easy stuff.

So, that’s it. Not too hard, and there are tons of pictures out there under this Creative Commons license. Have fun looking around and finding the perfect image for your project!

Photo by The Suss-Man (Mike)

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About Luke

My name is Luke, and I’m the Online Media Manager for a technology company, photographer, husband, and father. You can see a snapshot of some of my work at LukeCoburn.com. I cheer for the Red Sox and am completely in love with my wife and four little princesses.

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