A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

by tpaajanen

Knowing where to find great photos for your online articles is vital, and you shouldn't resort to stealing images from around the Internet either.

Photos and illustrations are a vital part of online writing, to give color and interest to your articles. Unfortunately, this can lead to some problems when it comes to locating just the right picture for the job. If you are lucky, you'll be writing about something where you can take your own photos. Even a non-photographer can manage to take a decent pic when needed to. But that scenario only works if you are writing about something that exists near where you live. So what do you do for anything else?

Too many people just hit Google and grab whatever appropriate photos can be found. Whether you know it or not, that's not appropriate. It's theft, plain and simple so it shouldn't be your standard procedure as a professional writer.

If you find a great photo, you can contact the person who posted it and see if you can use it. Many people are happy to share their photos, so you can still win out with this approach. Except that it's not always easy to find and contact the owner, and the person who posted it may have stolen it from somewhere else in the first place.

Instead, try to search through sources of photos where you know you can use them to begin with. There are many places that offer free photos, or at least photos that are free as long as you give credit to the owner.

When You Take Your Own Photos:

BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro

Absolutely anyone can take better photos! If you can press a button, you can take great pictures. It’s as simple as that. In BetterPhoto Basics, Jim Miotke, founder of the popul...

Photo Adventures for Kids: Solving the Mysteries of Taking Great Photos

Look up! Look down! Move around! Everywhere you go, there are great pictures just waiting to be made! Kids love to take pictures! With Photo Adventures for Kids, you can encoura...

Smart Phone Smart Photography: Simple techniques for taking incredible pictures with iPhone and A...

Maximize your potential to get the shots you want with this guide to photography for both Apple and Android phonesThere’s a saying in the photography world that the best camera ...


My personal first stop for article photos is Flickr Creative Commons. That doesn't mean the entire Flickr site and you should never assume that all photos on Flickr are fair game. The Creative Commons area is specifically for photos that are up to be shared. Most will require attribution, which just means giving credit. Choose the first section for that, and go searching. It can be tough slogging through all the photos, as many users are pretty liberal with their tagging. But I have found it to be the best spot for great photos on all kinds of different topics.

Another variation on the Creative Commons theme is the Wikimedia Commons. They offer a similar situation that requires you give attribution credit when you choose a photo. They have a pretty mixed bag of photos, but I have found it very limited compared to Flickr. Still, give it a shot. It all depends on your subject matter and what you're looking for.

Lastly, I'd like to recommend Stock.xchng. Most of their photos are the staged or studio style which may (or may not) be better suited for you. You can't search by permission level, so look for the little colored balls next to the photo titles. The white balls mean you can freely use the photo, and the varying shades of grey have their own restrictions. Lighter gray means you have to let the owner know, and darker gray means you have to let the owner know and give them credit. When you see the site, it will make sense.

Flickr and Wikimedia allow you to just copy any photo you find, but Stock.xchng requires a login. It's not a big deal and it means you can download the larger photo sizes.

Well, these are just 3 options for photos and they should provide you with some great illustrations for quite a while before you run out of photos.

Updated: 05/06/2013, tpaajanen
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belinda342 on 05/06/2013

I'd like to add Pixabay to your list, if I may. This is a site with a ton of Public Domain pictures available for free use. Just be sure you don't click on the paid ones--make sure they say Public Domain (most of them are).

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