Free Digital Photos

Photos and videos make your online content come alive – and your social networking more engaging.

An image often IS the story with social networking.  However, with content marketing you usually need a photo to give your story that extra something that will get it consumed and shared.

If you do not have photos of your own that you can use, you have two choices – purchase them or use services that offer their photos for free in exchange for an attribution link.


US Copyright law states that if you create original content and publish it – which includes publishing on the web, then you hold a right to that published copy.  This holds true whether your content is a photo, a video, or a publish article, such as a blog post, no matter if is a photo you take yourself or with booth photography services,  learn about Inside Out Booth services here.

Reputable businesses do not download images from the web that belong to others. This is a practice that could prove to be very embarrassing – and potentially worse if legal action is taken.

Most of us are happy to share much of our web content if we receive a link of attribution back to that original content.  It is a common practice to ask for permission first, though that is usually not necessary if you are only using a short excerpt.

Of course, if you want to be absolutely correct in your practices you should consult with an attorney.

Free Digital Images

The inspiration for this article was recently learning about from my colleague John Jantsch. has an abundance of photos that you are free to use if you provide a link of attribution back to its creator.  Yet, locating that attribution link on their site can be a little challenging.

Here’s some help.

As you prepare to download the photo you will be looking at the screen below.  Click on “How to Publish a Credit” to copy the attribution link before downloading the photo.


It will open another window like this with the link and the HTML code if you prefer that approach for embedding the image.

Then simply reference the source with a link as I’ve done at the end of this post.

The link provided doesn’t take you to the exact photo, but to the portfolio of its creator. So, you will have to search that portfolio if you want to download that photo too.

Another source for free photos is Flickr’s Creative Commons.  Here you get images that have been uploaded by professionals and amateurs alike.  So, it may take some searching to find what you are looking for.

To get to the Creative Commons go to the Explore tab on Flickr and follow the drop-down menu.

You can save some time by using, as they serve up photos that are highly targeted to your search terms.

However, the photos at Creative Commons tend to be real photos from everyday life – sometimes capturing exactly what you had in mind, such as the photo I found for this article on Social Media Tips for Local Retailers.

Look at those colors. That’s about as real as it gets!

Paying for Stock Photos

There are a number of sites that offer subscriptions for unlimited use of their stock photos – or you can buy unlimited use of photos one at time. offers this, as does iStockPhoto, Shutterstock, and BigStock.

In fact, all of those pay to play stock photo services advertise on

I use these images in my blog and in my presentations.  You can see an example in this post on 5 Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Outstanding.

There are many factors that will determine the best type of photo for your online publishing.  You may want a clean and refined photo for your website or one that is more edgier and real for your blog.

Now you have plenty of sources to choose from – some for free and some for a fee.

What are your favorite sources for digital photos?

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Until tomorrow,  Jeff

 Photo Credit: Photostock