Top 3 Legal and Free Image Sources

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Top 3 Legal and Free Image Sources

Every website should have a blog, and every blog post should have a picture. Humans are extremely visual creatures and the use of visual media significantly increases almost all of the important numbers.

Blogging already takes up valuable time though, so if you don’t have a suitable image it can be all too tempting not to use one, or to just use the first on which turns up in Google’s image search.

However, as the competition to be seen and heard in a crowded online space increases, people are becoming more protective of what is theirs. So, your attempt to save a few minutes can turn quickly into a costly fine of several thousand pounds.

It’s important then, to know where you can find photos and pictures to use to liven up your blog posts without incurring the wrath of the copyright lawyers. Here are our three favourite image sources:

Flickr’s Creative Commons

While not all images on Flickr fall under the Creative Commons license, there are millions of photos which do. What this means is that many Flickr users have chosen to make their photos available for use, free of charge, dependent on a few conditions. Mostly you’ll be required to add in an attribution, but make sure you know the exact terms of each license type first. Flickr does a very good job of making this clear and simple to understand, so there should be no confusion.

Google’s Image Search

Google’s mission is all about helping people find the exact information they want, at the tips of their fingers, and to this end there are a lot of advanced search filters and functions which make it easy to narrow down your findings.

For example, if you needed a photo of a cat for something, it’s easy to just do a Google image search for ‘cats’, but there’s no way of knowing how each image is licenced. Unless that is, you know the correct filter.

Go to your advanced search settings using the ‘cog’ button:


Here you’ll see Google’s detailed image search filters and operations. If you look right at the bottom of the page, you’ll see an option to filter by usage rights. By default, the images are not filtered by license, but by using the dropdown arrow, you can choose whichever licence type which is right for you.

It’s really that easy. By default, Google assumes your images are not free, but if you mark a page with a Creative Commons license, or as being in the public domain, you can provide your images to the public too.

Make Them Yourself!

This is the most fun method, and the safest. It’s also personable and really creates a strong identity and allows readers to get to know you. For instance, if you needed a picture of a cat, why not use a picture of your own cat, or a family member’s? Need a general image of someone working hard? Get stuck in and ask a colleague to snap a shot of you bent over your keyboard.

Cat photos; here’s one I made earlier:

This is a photo I took of Zeus – he’s my cat and it’s my photo, so is fine for me to use however I like.

Since you naturally own these images you can use them for whatever you like – but don’t forget to include your license, so someone doesn’t accidentally misuse your picture!

Written by Alice Rees, who doesn’t mind if you use her cat photo.


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