Where to Find Free Images for Your Documents

image copyrightsYou are putting together a flier for your business, and you need a great image to accompany it. Where do you turn? Maybe you are working in Microsoft and search their images, but are unable find that perfect picture. Have no fear; there are other options out there!

There is one caveat: Not all images on the web are free for the taking. Many small businesses and organizations will simply do a Google image search and pull photos to use from across the web. The issue with this is that photo could be copyright protected and you have no way of knowing that from the Google search. Getty Images has been notorious for suing businesses of all sizes for using their copyrighted images without permission.

How can a small business find quality images that are cost effective and copyright free?

1. Use a Reputable Free Stock Photo Website

There are a plethora of free stock photo websites; however, you still want to watch the small print for the photo you wish to use. Most free stock photo websites will declare the type and terms of copyright for each image on their website. You want to find photos that are free for commercial use and attribute free.

When using these images in a print document, you will also want to pay attention to the size and resolution of the image you are downloading. Web images are typically 72 dpi (dots per inch), while a photo for print use should be 300 dpi to reproduce well.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

Pixabay.com: Pixabay features free photos that have been created and uploaded by users. All photos are copyright free for personal and commercial use. They are also attribute free, and the site offers a good selection of photos for a variety of topics.

IMCreator.com/free: IM Free offers a curated selection of high-quality creative commons images, icons and templates. You will want to pay attention to whether or not the photo you want to use requires attribution. If so, underneath the photo on your project you would need to add the copyright symbol along with the photographer’s name.

SplitShire.com: Split Shire is run by a graphic designer and photographer who was frustrated by not being able to find good photographs for his projects. He decided to offer up all of his personal photography for the greater good, and his photos are amazing! All of these photos are copyright and attribution free.

2. Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons Search allows you to search multiple websites for photos and images with a Creative Commons license. Make sure you check both of the boxes before doing your search to only include those photos available for commercial use and those that can be modified. When searching for commercial-use Creative Commons photos, you will need to be more vigilant of attribution requirements.

3. Create Your Own Image

Designing your own images and altering images has never been easier for the non-designer. Two great free resources are Picmonkey and Canva. Both offer plenty of features to create images at the free level and offer additional features at a nominal price on the paid membership levels.

If you are planning to print a banner, check out our previous post with banner design tips for the non-designer.

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