How To Get Great Photos For Your Blog Without Breaking Copyright Laws

Photos can give a blog that extra ‘pop’

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

I love photography. I’ve been getting into it more in the last few years, even attempting some classes. My wonderful kids bought me a nice digital camera for my birthday about 5 years ago. And now I have a smart phone with a camera as well, so I seem to be snapping away all the time. Many go up on my blog. Many do not, and are sandblasted off the planet with a touch of the delete button. As well they should be. See the photo at the top of this post? It took me six tries to get it clear.

I’m not a professional photographer. I just dabble for a hobby. Plus I think I need new glasses. I am not a dabbler of writing, however. Writing is something I expect to do professionally, and am working hard towards that end. So if someone took something I wrote and claimed it as their own without giving my due credit or monetary compensation, I’d be upset about it.

Professional photographers feel the same way about their photographs. That’s why it’s important to follow copyright laws when you post photos on your blog. This subject really blew up in the blogosphere after author Roni Loren shared her story about being sued by a photographer. She had good intentions, but wasn’t fully informed as to the copyright rules, and it cost her. She was concerned about the blogging community enough to kindly share her cautionary tale with the rest of us so we can avoid heartache.

Read Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics On Your Blog – My Story by Roni Loren

I have to admit I have had one or two photos on my blog that broke a copyright rule (and I’m in the process of hunting them down and removing them) but for the majority of my blog posts, I use my own photos or copyright-free photos. I like the look of older photos so I also use a lot of public domain photos. When Roni’s story broke several bloggers took the time to share some sources for copyright-free photos. If you want photos on your blog they’ve got the info for you to help make it happen:

And of course, you can always take your own photos or create your own graphics:

There are many ways to find photos for your blog and still stay legit, including taking your own. Your blog photos don’t have to be perfect, in fact sometimes they are more interesting if they are not. They just need to be clear. Consider taking a beginner photography class if you would like to get better at taking pictures. With smart phones and applications like Instagram, you can be on the lookout for an interesting shot wherever you go throughout your day.

**Update: In talking with Artist Daughter about this issue, she clued me in on two more resources for free copyright-free stock photos:

If you know of any other resources or ideas for copyright free photos, please share in the comments!

Question: Does a photograph keep you interested in reading a blog? Is it all about the written content? Is it a combination?

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30 thoughts on “How To Get Great Photos For Your Blog Without Breaking Copyright Laws

  1. I am in the process of taking photos for my blog or facebook. I’ve always been leery of using photos because I don’t want to steal someone else’s work. Thanks for all the links for free photos. Also, if your photos include people, consider them before posting the picture. If you don’t have photoshop, PicMonkey is a free site where you can crop people add, and enhance your photos. I don’t include people in my pictures, because the ones I take are family, and I wouldn’t want my picture pasted on the internet without someone consulting me, so I don’t do it. Great post Kristen, thanks.


    • Thanks for the resource, Nita! I like your policy about posting photos. I do the same thing with the photos I take for my blog: no photos of people I know (except for that one of Destined-To-Be-A-Musician grandson – he’s so darn cute!) so as not to invade their privacy. I’ve been taking more photos of things like notebooks, typewriters and the like to go along with the blog subject matter.


    • In answer to your question, photos make the blog more attractive to me. Practically speaking, they give me a way to quickly ascertain what’s being covered and make it easy to mentally outline or catalog the post for future reference. I think certain types of blogs would suffer greatly from lack of photos (crafts, food, art, etc.). Written content is primary, however. I follow blogs with no photos and enjoy them just as much as the more visual ones.


  2. Great post! Thanks for including my link. 🙂

    I personally like simple and eye-catching graphics. But I wouldn’t bypass a text-only post. If the content is compelling and readable (space between paragraphs, legible font, etc.), I’m all over it.


  3. Hi Kristin, thanks for taking the time to put all these resources together! Much appreciated, and I’m busy checking out the links at the moment. I’m curious – which is your ultimate resource for photos (if you are not using your camera, of course)?


    • My favorite resources up to this point besides my own photos have been Wikimedia Commons where a lot of Creative Commons attribution only photos are, and the Library of Congress photo collection website.You still have to read carefully to determine the licensing of images, but I find a lot of good public domain ones there. Plus I like old photos.

      I’m just starting to get into Flickr. The WANA Commons group looks great. I’ve already uploaded many photos to the group and there are a lot of talented author-photographers contributing that have better looking photos than mine. I’m excited to discover the details of some of the other listed resources.

      My top favorites are my own photos though, just because it is fun trying to get a good shot and/or matching up a photo to a blog subject. Thanks for asking, Ken.


  4. Informative post Kristen. I’ve been cleaning up my blog for anything that might be a copyright issue, so it’s nice to have this post as a go-to for future no-hassle photos. Thanks!


  5. I only use my own photos, or those of people I know who’ve given me permission. It’s forcing me to pay attention and become a better photographer. In fact, I downloaded a watermark app for my iPhone (my only camera), to help with my own copyright blah blah.


  6. If I took pictures other than of my food and Squeaks, then maybe I would use more of my own. Instead, I resort to lurking in the Creative Commons section of Flickr. I’m one of those people who misses the photo op of the Statue of Liberty to take a picture of a bird sitting on a lady’s head. So I appreciate photography artists willing to share their wares with this inept photo-taking blogger. 🙂


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  9. This is great advice, Kristin and thanks for all of the links. I, too, have a great digital camera and an iPhone and between the two, I try to provide my own photos for my blog. I’m not great about watermarking them which I should do so no one steals from ME! 🙂

    If I don’t use my own photos, I gravitate toward Creative Commons on Flickr and DeviantART. However, I LOVE my iPhone photo apps (Snapseed is my have) and can make almost any photo look great!


  10. Love this list of resources! When I first started blogging, I struggled to find images I could use. I mostly snapped pics with my cell phone and cleaned them up in Flickr. Then my camera phone went on the fritz and I invested in a digital camera. Now I love taking pictures for the blog as much as I do writing for it. I call myself a blog-tographer. It is so good for the spirit.


  11. Thanks for stopping by and so glad the list is of help to you! I have slowly come to love photography the more I got into it for blogging purposes as well. I have fun but I admire those that have a true talent for it. 🙂


  12. Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break. I love the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look
    when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
    . Anyways, superb blog!


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