Sourcing Website Images

How many websites have you visited recently that are 'text only'? I bet there weren't many. Most websites use images or graphics to break up the flow of text and get their message across more easily. There's truth in the old saying that a picture speaks a thousand words.

How to find website images

Travel sites depend on photos to showcase the beauty of their chosen location.

Cooking and recipe sites want to give visitors an idea what the finished product looks like.

DIY and other how-to sites use images to help clarify their instructions.

And any site selling a product would definitely want to show off their wares.

Even sites that offer services or deal with abstract topics, such as solicitors or accountants or poetry collections, make use of website images to break up their content and improve readability for their visitors.

I had used images on my website before, but until I began building Essentially England I never appreciated how many images I really needed to make the site look inviting! Many more than I'd thought. And unless you're an ace photographer with a huge portfolio, there will come a time when you're looking for website images that you simply don't have.

So what do you do?

You can search for website images online, of course, and there's a good chance you'll get lucky and find something suitable. But chances are that the image will be copyrighted, so you cannot just simply copy it and use it on your site.

So how and where can you find images to illustrate your web pages? And how can you do so without breaking the bank or breaking the law?

Free Website Images

If you know how to use a camera, then free website images are easily within your reach. Take as many as you can, and keep them organised to help find things easily. Building up a portfolio of useful images takes time and effort, but once you have them they can easily be used more than once.

Keep in mind that sometimes a small detail is enough to illustrate your text, so 'cutting up' photos is a good way to make your collection go further. Ask friends and family for help, too, and don't forget work colleagues. If you write a travel site, then they can be great help.

Flickr, the photo sharing website is a good place to find images for websites. Many images on Flickr can be used under a creative commons license, i.e. you may display the images on your site, but you must acknowledge the copyright of the photographer and you cannot alter the images. There are various levels of a creative commons license, so read them carefully before you use an image. I also tend to contact the photographer and check that they're happy to let me use the image, sometimes in exchange for a link back to their site or portfolio.

Another site I use for free website images is Morguefile, which has a very eclectic selection. And their usage license is very generous for anyone building a website.

stock.xchng also has a large selection of free website images. I find them particularly useful for architectural images and food photos.

Free Business Images

FreeDigitalPhotos.net is an excellent resource if you're looking for free business images for your website. It's widely used - so not all your images won't be exclusive - but given the prices for business-related royalty-free stock, this site is well worth checking out.

If you want to use the images for free, you must publish a credit with the image and link back to the photographer's gallery. If you can't or won't do that, or if you want higher-resolution images, you can buy them, too.

The site is very easy to use and has an excellent search function!

Royalty Free Stock Photos

Royalty free stock photos are images you can use under a license. The copyright of the image remains with the photographer, and various types of license are available for different types of usage.

There's a difference if you just want to display an image on your website, or if you want to use this image on a product that you plan to sell.

There are numerous stock photo sites on the web and their portfolios vary, so check out several to see which have the best images for your particular site.

I find Dreamstime excellent for food photography. They also have a huge portfolio of England photos.

An equally useful site is Fotolia, which I use mainly for business images, landscapes and sport.



Most stock photography sites work along similar lines. Usually you create an account before buying credits that you can convert into downloadable images. Images can cost as little as a single credit (approx. £0.30), but if you want an exclusive use license, or want to turn the image into a product, then the costs will go up.

Stock photography sites are also useful if you're a photographer, because you can showcase your work and earn money from your hobby if your images are good and prove popular.


Art Photography and Poster Sites

Art photography and poster sites are another option to find high-quality free images for websites.

These sites make a business out of selling posters and framed art prints. And - of course - they like to show off their products to as many potential customers as possible.

The site I use most frequently is AllPosters.com, which has the most wonderful selection of England images and film posters.











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