Images are a big part of any event marketer’s job. You need them for your brochures, website, news stories, blog posts, social media feeds—well, you need them for everything.
Even if you use low-cost stock photo sites such as Shutterstock, iStockphoto, and Adobe Stock Images, all these pictures can add up to a pretty penny. On the other hand, many of the royalty free photos available on sites such as Compfight are not always professional looking, and copyright ownership can be questionable.
Are your only choices professional images at a high cost, or free photos that do not look very good?
Absolutely not. There is some excellent photography available for free. Most of these photos can even be used for commercial purposes. The following are a few of my favorite photo sites.
The List Awaits...
Excellent collection of searchable photos under Creative Commons Zero licensing, which means you can use the photos for commercial purposes without attribution to the photographer.
A Beautiful collection of searchable photos using Creative Commons Zero licensing. This site also categorizes their photos, which helps you quickly find what you are looking for.
Sign up for their mailing list to have a photo collection sent to you monthly at no charge. They also have a premium version which starts at $15 per month. That gets you two photo collections each month, starter bonus packs, and unlimited downloads. The images on this site do have some restrictions, but they present those restrictions in “plain English” so there is no confusion.
Vivid searchable images with licensing restrictions clearly spelled out for each photo. They even supply you with ideas for how to use each photo in your design.
Searchable images broken down by category for easy pickings. This site is owned by Getty Images, so you know there will be some beautiful professional pictures in there. Their licensing information page says attribution must be given for non-commercial uses (think blog posts and other social media).
If old-timey photos are your thing, this site contains curated public domain image links. The owner of this site states that all images, to the best of his knowledge, are in the public domain and free of copyright.
This site is your gateway to all government photos such as space photos from NASA, National Park images, and great photos from the Fish and Wildlife Service. This collection of photos is a great example of your tax dollars at work so be sure to have a look through them. Most photos are in the public domain and require no permission to use (if images do have a copyright assigned to them it is noted in the photo description). Many photos do require attribution.
Many are familiar with this haunting photo “Migrant Mother” by renowned photographer, Dorothea Lang. It is available through the Library of Congress (entirely free, without any restrictions) as part of the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection, an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944.
While some photos do not require that you credit the photographer, it’s just good practice to give credit where credit is deserved. Wouldn’t you like it if someone were to do the same for your work?
When in doubt, get permission. If you are unsure about the licensing options on the photo you want to use, contact the person who owns the copyright. Tell them how you want to use the photo and ask if it is okay.
For more information on Copyright and Fair Use for Images Online, check out this article by Social Media Examiner.