(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)
Something I had a lot of trouble with when I started my blog was to find some great images to go with the articles. In fact, I am still not very good at adding images to my posts. But I am trying to improve on that subject. Whenever I can, I am using the pictures me and Mrs. The Poor Swiss take. But for many subjects, I do not have original images. I am a poor photographer myself and Mrs. The Poor Swiss do not have images for all the subjects I am writing about.
The most important thing about images is that you need to have the rights to include them on your blog. You are not allowed to simply take an image on another blog and use it without getting the rights for the image. Even if you cite your source, this is not enough. Fortunately, there are many sources of images for which you have the rights to use them. Once you know where to look it is actually pretty easy to find free to use images for your blog. I have to yet to find a single collection that always gives me the best result. So I am using several options to find the images.
In this post, I will list the best options I am using to find great and free images for my blog posts. As we will see, however, some free images are not always usable on your blog either. You need to be careful about copyright laws when you use pictures that you did not take yourself. Actually, the same laws also apply to pictures you took yourself!
My first option, and my favorite, when I look for pictures for my blog is Unplash. Unsplash is a website where photographers can share their pictures. What is absolutely awesome about this website is the all the images are entirely free of charge. You can do all you want with the images. You can use them on your blog, modify them if you want and even do not have to cite the author. And all of this for free.
Another great thing about Unsplash is that all the images are curated and reviewed. That means that they make sure that the people sending the images have the correct rights to send them. And they also make sure that images are of good quality before getting included in Unsplash. This is very important because you do not want to waste your time looking for pictures in a collection of bad quality images.
There is only one thing that is lacking in Unsplash. They are great for images of people and landscapes. However, they are not so great for images of objects or simply views inside the house. They are not lacking in quality here, just in quantity. That is why I am also using other services.
Another great thing about Unsplash is that you do not even have to create an account to download the pictures. And there is no annoying captcha to download, it is the smoothest of the sites to download an image.
When I do not find what I need on Unsplash, I go to Pixabay. The principle is the same than Unsplash. It has a bit more images than Unsplash (1.2 million against 800 thousand). But I feel like it has much more illustrations and images of things than Unsplash.
Unplash shines really for landscapes pictures. Pixabay shines more for illustrations and images of things. Images are also curated on Pixabay. And images are generally of great quality and are quite beautiful. On the other hand, I feel like the quality is sometimes lacking on Pixabay compared to Unsplash. But this is highly subjective of course.
You do not need an account either to download pictures from Pixabay. However, if you do not have an account, you will have to answer to an annoying captcha every time you download an image. It is no big deal. But this makes it a bit less practical to use than Unsplash.
Another great resource for images for blogs is Rawpixel. Rawpixel is a team of artists publishing their content together. They have some very good content. And they are especially good where Unsplash is lacking. They have many pictures that are directly made for blogs.
Unfortunately, you have to register on their websites to download pictures. But it is free, even for commercial use, as long as you do not download more than 100 images per month.
You can find many of their images directly on Unsplash. But it is often better to look directly at their stuff when you know what you are looking for.
Finally, I want to talk about Canva as well. This is the tool I am using for making all my featured images for my posts. I am really bad at doing this kind of thing and Canva is helping me a lot at making it much easier. Canva is not really an image collection. But it contains many images that you can use for your cover images.
On the other hand, you cannot use these images simply for putting them on your blog. Actually, you can. But you need to create a cover containing only this image and export it. This is all but convenient. I only recommend using these images for your covers. And the collection is fairly small, I do not always find images there. Finally, there are also many images that are not free on Canva. They may not be expensive. But in many cases, I do not think one needs them. So I generally download them in one of the other three sources and then upload them to Canva.
Unfortunately, an image being free does not mean that you can use it under all conditions. Some images from these websites are actually not usable for websites. In fact, even the pictures you take yourself are subject to these laws. The law protect many things even when they appear in pictures. This protection is decided by copyright laws. And these laws may be different from country to country.
First of all, people in a picture are actually protected separately from the person that took the picture. It is not legal to take pictures of people in the street and use them on your blog. You always need to be careful with pictures of people. If there is a single person on the picture, you are likely safe since the photographer on these websites would have asked the permission of the model. However, if there are many people, you need to be careful.
Obviously, trademarks are also protected. You cannot simply take a picture of a logo and use it in any pictures. If the picture is not used in commerce and does not create consumer confusion, you can generally use it even if it contains a trademark. Where it becomes very complicated is that some logos and trademarks are actually copyrighted. In that case, you need permission to be able to use a picture with copyrighted material. You can read this article on the subject for more information.
In many countries, the law protects even some landmarks. For instance, in most of Europe, the law protects landmarks as artworks for 70 years after their creator’s death. That means you can use a photograph of anything starting 70 years after its creator passed away but not before that time. Now, there are some twists. In most European countries, if the landmark is in the picture but is not its main focus, you can have them on a picture. This is called freedom of Panorama. However, some countries like France and Italy do not have this freedom of Panorama. The United States also has Freedom of Panorama for buildings but not for artworks.
Finally, sometimes it gets even more complicated. The Eiffel tower from Paris is a very good example. Its creator died in 1923. So it is not protected anymore. However, they installed the night lights on the tower in 1985. That means you can use a picture of the Eiffel Tower during the day. But it is illegal to use a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night! This is simply insane! There are many complicated examples like this.
As you can see, copyright laws are extremely complicated. You need to be extra careful about using free pictures. I am really no expert in the matter. In ambiguous cases, you should consult the law or even an attorney.
These sources of images have greatly helped find images for my various blog posts. I am also using them for my article covers. Now, I am always able to find good images when I do not have pictures of my own to use. I am still not great at adding pictures into my posts. But I think I am getter better at it and this is partially thanks to these services. I hope this will help you to find great images for your blog as well!
For this article, I also looked more into copyright laws. It is a very important subject. It can cost a lot to use images from which you have no rights. And it is more complicated than I thought before. I will need to take a second look at all the images I have taken from these sites to make sure I can really use all of them. You should always be extra careful about using images from the internet, even from free image collections.
Even though all these images are free, you should not forget that there are artists behind them. And a lot of them are working hard at producing content. If you really like their content, you can consider donating something back to them. Unsplash does not have a donation option. But there is a link to the website of the author and you may be able to donate from there. On Pixabay, you have a direct option to donate, it is a button with coffee. On Canva and Rawpixel, you can switch to the pay version. Or in any case, you can credit the authors. What is great with these services is that we have a choice!
What about you? Where do you find great images for your blog?