12 best places to get free images

Mike Williams at TechRadar.com gives a very useful roundup of his top twelve sites for sourcing free images. His focus is on images for the web, but the sites are equally useful for speakers. See my earlier post, 'Preaching with images' for other suggestions. I thought I'd researched image libraries fairly well, but a couple of Mike Williams's suggestions are new to me. Some of his suggestions, such as Free Media Goo and Pixel Perfect Digital, are for small sites that I don't find worth my while visiting because I'm usually looking for very specific subjects, not just a nice image. I like the look of Unprofound, which is new to me, and I'm very surprised that I have no recollection of coming across OpenPhoto before. It doesn't strike me as a particularly well-designed site, but I've found enough images in various categories to persuade me to make it part of my regular hunting grounds.
photo © Sarah Klockars-Clauser for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike
photo © Sarah Klockars-Clauser for openphoto.net

Mike Williams at TechRadar.com gives a very useful roundup of his top twelve sites for sourcing free images. His focus is on images for the web, but the sites are equally useful for speakers. See my earlier post, 'Preaching with images' for other suggestions.

I thought I'd researched image libraries fairly well, but a couple of Mike Williams's suggestions are new to me. Some of his suggestions, such as Free Media Goo and Pixel Perfect Digital, are for small sites that I don't find worth my while visiting because I'm usually looking for very specific subjects, not just a nice image. I like the look of Unprofound and will definitely dig around in there soon. But I'm very surprised that I have no recollection of coming across OpenPhoto before. It doesn't strike me as a particularly well-designed site, but I've found enough images in various categories to persuade me to make it part of my regular hunting grounds.

It's perhaps worth a word about how to get the images as it's not immediately obvious (or at least, it wasn't to me!). At the top of the home page is a category cloud, including the unhelpful 'no category', which is a good enough starting point. Clicking on one of these brings up some image thumbnails and a subcategory cloud. Some of these have further sub-subcategory links. When you find an image and click on the thumbnail, you get, as you'd expect, a larger preview image and a block of information to the right of the preview. At the top of the block are links for edit, download, back and forward. I'll come back to those in a moment. Then there's the photographer's name and location. Click on the name for other images by the same person. Under that it the title of the photograph, then tags for the images. These are hyperlinked, but rather bizarrely as a block, not individual tags. So if you click on them you are running a search for that set of tags - and it's an OR search, so the results include any images which have at least one of the tags from your original image. Under that is the date of the image, then the licence. I'm delighted that all the images are covered by a Creative Commons licence. Finally, there's a count of the number of times the image has been viewed and a list of the categories in which it appears.

Now, back to those four links. Edit is available to registered users; I presume only for the image owner. Back and forward navigate within the particular photographer's images, not in the category as you might expect (you can also use the left and right cursor keys on your keyboard). Download is the one you want, obviously. If you hit D on the keyboard, rather than clicking on the link, the image will load, full size, in a new tab or window (as long as popups are enabled - you may get a bar appearing asking for your permission). Clicking on Download takes you to a page that looks very similar, with the same size preview image. Now in the block to the right of the image is the number of the image in the OpenPhoto library, the copyright information and a link to the raw image. This is what you need: right-click on the link and then 'Save link as...' or 'Save target as...' Under the image are four editable text fields. The first gives you the url for the image on OpenPhoto.net. The second gives you the photographer's preferred attribution. This is in html, which assumes you will paste it into your blog. If you're including it in a presentation, remove the html tags (in <> pointy arrows) and change &copy; for ©. The third field is the html for pasting the inline image into your blog, that is the preview image with the attribution in a black bar on the bottom. The final field gives the url for the full-size image, which you might want to link to.

For any image library, I recommend strongly that when you save the image, you include enough information in the filename to be able to know the correct attribution to use when you use the image. For example, the image above will be saved as 'openphoto_22372_Sarah_Klockars-Clauser_CCatt-sh-al' (source, image number, photographer, CC licence: attribution, share alike). Sometimes I also keep text files in the same folder with the information I need. Most image album software has the ability to tag images. I find it a good idea to tag stock images with the name of the image library it came from and the copyright licence type.

HT Jane Hart

© Tony Watkins, 2020
The Tony and Jane Watkins Trust oversees and supports the ministries of Tony and Jane Watkins in Christian training, education, and communication. It is a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 1062254.
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