As designers, we know that finding the perfect image is key. The right photo can be the focal point for your work, get you more clicks, and inspire other aspects of the design. While it may be tempting to do a quick Google search and grab the first image that catches your eye, we’re here to say: don’t! For all of the ease that pulling an image off of Google may seem to provide, the pitfalls are not worth it.
First, there’s the quality control. Not only is the image likely not readily available for public use, but where’s the quality assurance? High resolution is the goal, but some searches offer blurry photos that not only won’t look good on your blog post. They also definitely won’t translate to print materials either, so the ol’ search-and-grab is not your friend.
The second pitfall is an even bigger “yikes!” We’ve heard some horror stories about people get into tricky legal situations when using an image without checking the copyright. Even if someone’s intentions are good, like using an image on your personal blog, the last thing anyone wants is to get a scary letter in the mail demanding payment, attribution, or taking down the work altogether. Photographers and stock photo companies can find their work to ensure it’s being used legally.
Don’t Fear the Fine Print
Copyright infringement? Public domain? Creative Commons? Restricted permissions? There are a lot of terms to know, but chin up! Here’s the good news: there are many helpful resources out there to help navigate what this all means. The most obvious solution is to take your own photos, but that may not be feasible for all of your projects. If you’re new to this issue of legal versus illegal image use, you’re not alone. That’s why there are many articles on this very topic.
Here’s a helpful article from Search Engine Journal that puts it simply:
“You can’t just do a Google image search to find the images you want. That’s how you risk copyright infringement. However, there’s a neat tool within Google Images to help you quickly find all the images you can use.”
So Where Can I Get Good Photos?
We’ve gathered some go-to resources for you. This Forbes article offers 33 sites with free photos. Not bad, right? As a bonus, each website is given a line or two about how you may use them—commercial projects, personal use, or however you like.
Looking to shell out some bucks for high quality stock photos, graphics, and videos? Here are some sites we recommend:
Your choices are endless. Search away!
These user-friendly tools are available to everyone, so your creative project doesn’t need to be put on hold. We’re lucky to have resources available to us. Let’s keep your work far away from legal pitfalls and instead bring fantastic (and worry-free!) images to your audience.