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Where to Find Images for Your Web Site

One of the questions I’m asked most often about web site design is “Where can I find images to use on my web site?”

Here are some sites where you may find images to use. (Disclosure: We receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.)

Free Sources for Web Images:

You cannot assume that any image you find on the web or in a Google search is free for you to use. The image is most likely under copyright and cannot be used legally or ethically without permission from the copyright owner. However, there are several ways to find images you can use for free. Please note that you get what you pay for — the selection of quality images is not as wide as with stock photos.

1. Flickr Creative Commons at http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ You can find images here that you can use as long as you give credit to the image owner. There are several different levels of rights — some people allow commercial use and others do not, some allow you to change the image and some do not.

2. Stock Exchange at http://www.sxc.hu/ has a more extensive selection of free photographs for your web site. I have found that the quality of the photographs on this site can vary widely so you may have to sift through a lot of images to find the ones you want. They also will suggest “premium” photos found at stock photo sites.

3. Dreamstime is a stock photo site that also offers a free photos section

4. Google with Usage Filter.  Google has added a usage filter that it says will allow you to determine which images in its searches are free for you to use. Go to Google Images and click on Search Tools. Then click Usage Rights and select the license you want to search for. By default, the images are NOT filtered by license and not free to use.  It is not clear how Google determines the license on an image. See http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/find-legal-images-google-new-filter/ for more information

5. Bing with License Filter. Search for an image at http://www.bing.com/images Then click on License drop down and select the level of license you want to search for. The safest selections will either be “Public Domain” or “Free to modify, share, and use commercially” By default, the images are NOT filtered by license and not free to use.

Inexpensive Sources for Web Images:

These image sources provide royalty-free images for you to use on your web site. In most cases, you can license an image for $5 or less; you usually need only the small or extra-small size for web sites. Most of these sites work either on a subscription or a credit purchase system, though, so you probably won’t be able to purchase just one image.

1. iStock I use iStock most often because I find it easy to use with a great variety of high quality photographs.

Other stock image sites

2. Dreamstime at http://www.dreamstime.com This web site also has an area of free images.

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