Using Images In Your Posts: Sources

Using Images In Your Posts: Sources

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

Don’t Use Images or Hotlink to them without permissionBut 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!


Flickr LogoYahoo’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

CD and DVD collectionsOne 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.


iCLIPART.comYou 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

Create Your Own ImagesThe 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.


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2007-12-16 16:31:45


I use stock exchange quite a lot. It does not have as many pictures as Flickr but I find the quality is higher. It is free too which is always handy!

Comment by jfc
2007-12-16 17:05:54

Thanks David,

Sorry about the moderation delay because of the link.

That looks like a good site too. I’ve bookmarked it.

Comment by Kathy
2007-12-16 20:13:40

Thank you for writing this. It’s very helpful.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-16 20:29:29

Thanks for stopping by Kathy. I’m glad it was helpful to you.

Comment by Mike Huang
2007-12-16 21:41:47

Great post! I always wonder where bloggers get all those wonderful post pics. I’ve been using Google Images to find pics, but it is sometimes frustrating..


Comment by jfc
2007-12-16 22:08:50

Hi Mike,

The other thing about Google Image Search is that often the photo you snag will be copyrighted and that could cause you problems later.

If you stick with the free or paid services that offer you properly licensed images you shouldn’t have that trouble. Plus, they’re usually organized better than your typical random Google Image Search.

Comment by Todd Morris
2007-12-17 03:48:53

Hi Frank,

I usually start out at Flickr, but lately I’ve been using more of my own images. I’ve got about 10,000 pictures I’ve taken over the past few years on a portable hard-drive. Makes things a little easier, not having to worry about things like copyright … although, when I get going with photoshop, hours can easily disappear without even noticing.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-17 09:57:38

Hi Todd,

Given your travels you probably have some good photos.

I know what you mean about Photoshop. I usually don’t fuss over the pictures I use here but when I was selling actively on eBay sometimes I’d futz around with them for hours trying to get them ‘just right’.

2007-12-17 11:54:20

LOL, perhaps overstated but Photoshop might be the greatest time robber since the television! You can definately waste some time there, and it seems I never get better at it

Comment by Lin
2007-12-23 18:20:37

So that’s how you get those awesome images! I was just reading your post on Askimet and wanted to tell you I love the images you use! Very unique and original. I’ve been searching more on Flickr and so far I’m pretty happy with those.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:44:27

Thanks Lin,

Flickr is a good source for Creative Commons photos. Using them is one of the easiest ways, and least expensive in terms of money and time, to get graphical elements into your posts.

Comment by Y. S.
2007-12-24 23:04:34

I use too. (as someone already mentioned)

Comment by Cigars
2008-03-25 10:47:01

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You know, if you had put something remotely meaningful and maybe even a tad creative in your comment spam I would have let it through, at least with your signature link intact rather than replacing it with a link to a blog of mine.

2008-06-30 17:07:16

[…] enough hours in the day to read everything I need and want to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed his series of posts on using images in posts. Frank has some of the most unique and interesting images in posts I’ve seen yet. Great job […]

2008-08-12 11:34:21

You know, the hours I have wasted at flicker and creative commons could have been spent more wisely. I like the idea of using my own stuff. Thanks for the good ideas. Your artwork is great on this site.

Comment by Lorecee
2009-09-08 08:26:25

Frank, I see that you’ve just added a link to your sidebar for some inexpensive graphics packages so I went over and checked them out. They’re a nice complement to your dateless themes and priced right, so if I decide to buy one, I’ll be sure to go through your link. Thanks.

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