How to score photos without breaking the bank

Using quality photos in presentations, reports, web design, and the like is important. We know that photos make an impression in more ways than one, and we know that they should be high resolution. What some of us don’t realize is that we should not be using photos that are copyrighted. It’s really easy to go to our search engine of choice, type in a word or phrase, browse images, and then copy and paste an image into another program. More often than not, the image we chose to use is copyrighted, which means we don’t actually have permission to use it.

As a professional who hails from the nonprofit world, I can tell you that sometimes image choice is limited by budget. The good news is that due to Creative Commons licensing, there are lot of no cost options out there.

It is worth noting that just because an image has a Creative Commons license, it does not necessarily mean there are no restrictions to its use. There are multiple license types, each with different meanings. For example, Attribution means that you must give the owner credit for their work. I would suggest to anyone who uses photos with Creative Commons licensing to become familiar with each type of licensing.

Personally, one of my favorite sites to use for photos is Compfight. Compfight is a search engine of photos that are on Flickr, a large image-hosting website. The site easily allows you to filter the license to Creative Commons when searching for images. When looking for a new image, Compfight is usually my first choice for images because of the filters and options. If I already have a clear concept of the type of photo I want, it is relatively easy to locate an image that fits my needs.

A short list of free stock photo websites I regularly use include:

Death to the Stock Photo

All of the above sites offer email subscriptions, making it easy to add to your image library. To make it even easier on myself, I save images to my library based on origin so I know exactly from where I got them and what type of license they have.

What about everyone else? What sites are you using for quality images?

3 thoughts on “How to score photos without breaking the bank

  1. Great article. I’m working on a major image heavy project now that will require use of hi-res photos – so these resources will be used extensively.


  2. Thank you for the free stock photo resources! I have already incorporated some of the photos into a presentation I am working on.

    Keep the wonderful resources coming! Thank you!

  3. Talk about great timing! We are in the process of updating our communications and marketing policy to include guidelines regarding image usage.

    Thanks for the tips and online resources!

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