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How to get photos for your website/blog/lens

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Joined: 30 Nov 09

How to get photos for your website/blog/lens

There seems to be confusion about which pictures you can or cannot use for design of your website, lens or whatever. Here is a short (ok, then, its not short) description to help you understand what the rules of the game are:

1. Pictures are copyrighted material almost without exception

Just like you can't someone else's article or copy, you can't just go around copying other people's pictures. That means that somehow, from somewhere, you have to find images to decorate your blog/lens/website without copyrighting problems...

2. The RIGHT way

The RIGHT way to get pics to use on your website is to buy the right to use them. There are (essentially) 3 kinds of licenses to pictures.

The first, and the one you want to use is "Royalty-free stock photography". Royalty free stock photos tend to be VERY general in nature, and vary greatly in quality. The whole idea of royalty-free stuff is that ANYONE can buy it and similarly ANYONE can use it. In other words, when you buy the right the use the picture, you are not simultaneously limiting someone else's right to use it as well. You are not buying the photo, you are simply buying the right to use it amongst anyone else that has bought it as well. You do NOT have to disclose (or attribute) the source of the photo.

The second, and very desirable way is to find Creative Common license pictures. These are FREE to use, but you must attribute the photo to its creator. A good example is many NASA space photos - anyone can use them as long as you attribute the glory to where it belongs. Attributing can be done simply by saying somewhere "Photo by: xxxxx". That's all there is to it. The downside of common creative license is that there is not a hell of a lot of choice in this category.

The third and most expensive category is royalty-yielding editorial stock photos. These are purchased based on publication volume, time of publication, and a ton of other potential issues. The right of use for other users can be limited. These photos generally include things like Tiger Woods sticking his, ummm, club into a fan, or Barak Obama eating ice-cream. They are generally topical and "news" like. You do NOT want to go there, and you do NOT want to piss off any of the agencies selling these photos. Just don't go there.

3. How to get royalty-free stock photography

Again... two ways: one is the right one, the other one is a bit sneaky:

Right way: Buy the right to use it. You can get very good photos for about $1 a pop. The pricing generally increases with the resolution and size of the photo. For web you usually won't need anything but the smallest size photos, thus the cheapest. You can use the photo many times and anywhere you like. Once you've purchased the right to use it, you can use it over and over again.

Sneaky way: Copy the royalty free photo from somewhere it is already used. Since these photos ARE royalty free, it is hard to to track the use of them, not to mention if you the rightful purchaser. The downside is that when you find a nice photo, how do you KNOW that it really is royalty free stock and not the property of someone else. Make it easy - buy the photo. By the way, I am in no way promoting photo piracy or unauthorized use of photos (I can see my lawyer committing suicide already).

4. OK, then, but where from

Just google "Royalty free stock photos". There are heaps and heaps of sites offering per-photos and size purchase. My favorite resource is The good thing about them is that you buy "credits" and each photo costs a certain amount of credits based on the photo and the size and use of the photo (which you get to choose). Those credits persist over time. Most other sources tend to the subscription model where you pay per month, even if you don't use the service. There is also a FREE site called, but I have not tried it (I just found it now).

There are literally MILLIONS of photos available for a very low price and using them wisely will make a huge difference to the look of your website. As a bonus you will know you'll never get into trouble if your photos are legitimately purchased with a very low price.

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Character is what is left when Charisma is all used up
You are hosting with WHO? Make the
Posts: 2171
Joined: 01 Jun 09
Hey Markus, great post! I'm sure that alot of members will find it really helpful.
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Posts: 289
Joined: 29 Nov 09
Hi great post I have read it before but not this clear that said I am giving away photos of my own on my web site just to get marketers to check it out and get return traffic. The site is not finished yet so you can get the pictures with out signing in for now I have more but have not uploaded them yet.
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This topic was started on Jan 06, 2010 and has been closed due to inactivity. If you want to discuss this topic further, please create a new forum topic.