As you’ve no doubt noticed I use a lot of images in my posts. That wasn’t always the case, particularly during my 200 post blitz back in October. There just wasn’t the time to do it back then. More recently, with the switch to the Visionary magazine style theme, I need to create at least a 75×75 thumbnail for each post and a 300×175 picture for featured posts. Plus, with the magazine style theme I wanted to add a more graphical element to OpTempo to give it the exciting feel I was looking for. The problem was to find sources for the images I needed. In this article we’ll look at a few sources I’ve used.
What Not To Use
But first, let’s look at what you shouldn’t use.
It is not a good idea to ‘borrow’ original artwork from other people’s sites. This may violate copyright law and even get you into some trouble if you’re not careful. There are some ‘fair use’ provisions that may protect you in some cases but these are rather fuzzy. So, to be on the safe side, only use images that are listed as public domain or allow sharing under a Creative Commons license.
It also isn’t a good idea to hotlink images from other sites unless they’ve given permission to do so. Hotlinking means loading the picture from their server, not yours, and it consumes their bandwidth, not yours. Some large news organizations do allow limited hotlinking of photos, primarily as a promotional tool for their site but others do not and can be aggressive about going after violators. Most smaller website owners do not appreciate hotlinking images because of traffic problems it can cause. Some will even replace their original picture you hotlinked with something lewd! You don’t want that!
Yahoo’s Flickr photo sharing service has become quite popular with bloggers. People can share their photos with a Creative Commons license and you can use them on your site. There are several WordPress plugins you can use to display Flickr photos. You can allow Flickr to host the pictures. You can also, in some cases, download them and upload them back to your site as long as the license of the photo permits it. You will need to give credit where credit is due though in the form of image credits and a link back to the Flickr site. Several big time bloggers, such as Maki on Dosh Dosh, use this as a source of photos to spice up their posts.
There are several other free photo hosting and sharing around. I haven’t used them but, if you have, please feel free to leave a comment about them.
Photo and Clipart CDs and DVDs
One of my main sources for the art work I use here on OpTempo are my collection of photo and clipart CD’s and DVD’s I’ve collected over the years. I probably have at least 1.5 million images in the collection since I’ve been buying them since I first got a PC with a CD drive on it back in the mid-90’s.
The one hitch to these collections of photos and artwork are the copyright and usage restrictions on them. Ones released in the past 10 years or so will often have online usage restrictions that won’t allow you to use them online or severely restrict it. Others, such as my source for vintage advertising art I use a lot, require you place copyright notices and disclaimers as well as limiting the size of the clip. If you look down at the bottom of this page for the faint gray print you can see mine.
You can find these collections starting at about a $1 going up to about $50 or so at eBay and Amazon as well as many local stores that sell software. Try to check the licensing agreements if you can before purchasing to see if you can use them online or not.
You know I couldn’t forget to mention one of my sponsors for OpTempo, iClipArt. They have what they call the “World’s Largest Clipart Site” and have a library of over 6.2 million images you can use, royalty free, on your site. I’ve been pulling some images from there since I joined and, so far, it seems to be a great service with a very good selection of artwork and photos.
Right now they’re running a year end special for an annual membership. It’s normally $99 a year but, for a limited time, it’s only $29.95 for a year’s subscription. They have a few restrictions, such as you can’t use one of their images to make Cafe Press products, but aren’t overly restrictive. If you’re wanting something beyond what’s available on Flickr and don’t want to scour around for free images or try to find the right CD for a graphic, they’re what you’re looking for.
Create Your Own
The last option I’ll mention is using photo and paint editor software to create your own images. I use Photoshop and a few other program to create or enhance some of the pictures I use. This helps make them unique to your site and to control the size of the images. If you don’t want to shell out the money for Photoshop you can use various free, open source, editors such as GIMP or lower cost ones like Paint Shop Pro. Taking the time to learn how to use a good photo editor to work with your images is a good investment.
Do you have any thoughts on sources for photos and other graphics for your blog? Leave a comment and let me know.