Many people are visual and understand concepts better when they see graphics or images. Certainly websites that include some photos make the user experience nicer. But short of hiring an expensive photographer every time you want a photo, posting photos on your website can become a nuisance searching for copyright-free material. Because of this, we feel that we should let you in on some little secrets of where to find copyright-free stock photos on the web.
Microsoft is a haven for stock photos. Just go to their clip art, free images, photos and sounds page and you will find many categories which include over 3,000,000 (three million) graphics! Because of Word, Publisher, and Power Point, Microsoft offers the images online, as there are too many to put on a disk. Plus they are regularly adding new photos so you might just find what you need.
Stock.XCHNG claims to be the “leading free stock photo site”. And they probably are because we have searched for hours and days for our own websites and we always come back to this site. With close to 400,000 photos and thousands being added everyday, this is certainly a large database from which to choose stock photos for your website. The beauty about this concept is the free part. Artists (graphic designers, photographers, hobbyists) want to get their work out in the public domain so they are willing to let webmasters use their images.
They upload the photos to the site so that you can see thumbnails (tiny versions of the images) and you search for the ones that best suit your content. The site does ask you to read the “Image License Agreement” and adhere to their very liberal rules. Basically, you can use the picture how you wish, even to create a new graphic, but within reason. Obviously sites that are unlawful or are adult in nature may not use the photos.
Also, the artist may request that you contact him/her and let him know where you used his photo. A credit link may also be requested but in our opinion, it is just common courtesy to provide the link whether required or not. The artist is decent enough to give his work away for your benefit so placing a link to his site is not a real hardship on your part.
Also, consider small, hobby-ran websites by photographers who openly promote the use of their photos, free of charge, on the internet. Some of the people on our team run such sites as we believe in sharing photos we’ve taken and decided not to use.
Another way to find good copyright-free stock photos is on purchased CD libraries. Many online companies sell CDs with thousands of images that can be used on websites.
And if you are willing to pay a dollar or two for photos, there are sites where you buy credits on account, then choose a photo which is not too expensively priced. Some examples of these sites are “iStockphoto”, “BigStockPhoto”, and “fotolia”.
Getty Images was probably one of the first companies to offer photos but they tend to be too expensive for the average webmaster. Before the web, they catered to print media where photos were king and newspapers and magazines paid top dollar. Generally, you would use them if you have a serious project that requires professional photography.
Finally, your own computer hard drive is probably rife with photos and clip art that you can use on your website. Take a look at some of the programs you have installed like Corel Draw, Publisher, Word and others. They have sections with images and these can be used in your creations.