You would think, an author’s job being to write words, that we wouldn’t have much use for images. But the reverse is true. You’ll need an image for the cover of your novel at the very least, possibly more than one. (The cover of Reckless Rescue uses three different images in fact.)
How about your blog? Your facebook page? Twitter? Think that is mostly writing too? Think again. Research has shown that Facebook posts with an image recieved 104% more comments than those without. Blogs are no different. Then there’s Pinterest. Did you know that no one can pin your blog post (and send it out to their possibly hundreds of subscribers), if you don’t have an image in it.
Far from the days when images were frowned upon because they took up so much bandwidth and made the page too slow to load, users are starting to expect an image in a page, to the point that one without images can seem dull, and even hard to read.
Now you may be thinking ‘But I’m a writer, not a photographer? Where do I get images?’ As if things weren’t hard enough. Many people get around this by using Google image search, finding an image they like, and using it in their page.
But every single one of those images are owned by someone. What would you think if someone found your ebook or blog post, and included it in an anthology/article they were writing without your permission? Well, photographers feel the same way about their images. How do I know? Whether they’re home enthusiasts taking photos of their dogs and kids, or a professional photographer who relies on their photographs as an income, their images belong to them, and should not be used without permission.
So how do I know if an image can be used or not?
It’s safest to assume it can’t. Unless it’s specifically posted on a photo sharing site that allows use of images, then I wouldn’t risk it. Even with many of those sites, commercial use (if your blog has advertising, or is used to sell books, or in any way makes you money), is sometimes different to personal use (using it on a blog that doesn’t make money, saving it as a desktop background for your computer etc). Check the fine print.
It is worth looking at commercial sites for your images. Small, web use images, can sometimes be as cheap as $1 each, and I think it’s worth it for the peace of mind.
The three images used in the cover of Reckless Rescue, and most of the images used on my blog, all came from istockphoto.com, one of the largest stock photography sites around. I’ll admit here and now, that I use Istock because I sell my own work there. I like them for the sheer huge number of images, and because I know, personally, that all the images go through a rigorious inspection process.
Where do you get images for your blog? Do you take your own pictures? Do you like seeing images in blogs?
All this month I’m participating in the A-Z blogging challenge, writing a blog post for each letter of the alphabet, on every day of the month except Sundays. Check back regularly to see what else I have in store for you.
Very thoughtful post. I’ve used the pinterest embed feature which I found out from another blog, and it does give credit to the source, but I’m not sure that it’s ideal. I did have an experience using a photo from a google search, altering it a bit, and then the photographer found my site and was quite upset, so I pulled it down. Photoshopping a photo isn’t the answer either. Best to get permission from the photographer. Often I have received yes’s (oh dear, what is the plural of yes?), sometimes no’s. I have also done searches by using the term “creative commons image” + whatever I’m searching for, and have had good luck with that, but I do like to credit the photographer or site. Lastly, flickr has been great. There is a creative commons section and then I can give credit to the source if I use a photo from there. I also try to take a lot of photos myself, but finding them is another challenge. About half of them are labeled and others are still not!
Yep, always worth asking. Many people are quite happy to allow someone else to use a photo, especially if it’s credited.
I know a lot of fellow photographers are upset at their images being pinned on pinterest, there is a bit of an issue with copyright (and pinterests claims of it), though I haven’t looked into it.
Searching for creative commons is good, and I have heard that Flickr has a section that is allowable to use. Good to see some other possibilities for people to use legitimately.
Thanks Rinelle, this is very useful information. I do use images and wonder whether I’m crossing a line. Certainly if there is a name attached to it I would include it, but I am still uneasy about this. IF the image or photo says ‘exclusive rights and not be used without permission’ I wouldn’t use it. Sometimes on my FB page the images are so lovely and I do download them for future use if there is no acknowledgement from whence they came.
I wrote on Image & Imagination this day ..
Yes, the ones shared on Facebook are hard. On one case, they have probably been made to share. On the other, it’s virtually impossible sometimes to find the original creator. I share them through facebook, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable using them anywhere else.
As an artist, I struggle a bit with writing but I’m much more comfortable drawing. I’m very image oriented and I take a lot of photos for reference. What I like about blogging is it gives me an outlet to share some of my photos.
Blogging based on photos as the main focus is great I think! I’m really loving your blog posts.
The Library of Congress’s website is a good source for free blogging images. It has a deep well of imagery, and because everything they warehouse is public domain, it’s all acceptable to use widely.
I’ve still been struggling with images for my A-to-Z, though, since many of the subjects are fictional beings that have never been drawn, and I don’t have the skill to draw them myself.
I didn’t know about the Library of Congress, that’s great. NASA also has a huge number of public domain images, Blue Marble I think it’s called? Handy for sci-fi type images!
I pay for some of mine and use some I take. But I also get them from government sites. Most government sites will allow you to use them. There are some exceptions, so it always pays to read the media policy.
Yes, reading the media policy is the best place to start. And if there isn’t one, assume you can’t use them, (I really need to get a copyright notice on my page I think.)
I prefer to use photos I’ve taken myself or logos and photos the original photographer has give permission to use. The problem is, I get lazy and don’t pull my camera out when I should. I need to do better with that.
That’s the way to go Patricia. I need to get my camera out more often too.
I’ve learned to photograph for my writing. Many places required it.
Yes, I would guess if you’re writing for others then supplying your own pictures would be part of it. What sort of writing do you do?
I always search for images using the advanced search function in Google Images that allows you to specify ‘available for reuse’ (although I haven’t previously selected commercial as I don’t advertise on my blog – but now I remember that WordPress does. I wonder if that counts.)
I read so many horror stories of people getting sued over Pinterest that I pulled my site down and now pin very rarely and usually my own pictures.
Sorting the pictures for my daily blog is actually one of the most time consuming parts… I used to take pics of the kids but now my son runs off saying ‘no more photos mummy!’
Istockphoto is brilliant for covers – all of mine come from there, some as little as a couple of pounds, all the way up to my Dragon Wraiths second cover which was eighty quid! Eek. (My first cover was photoshopped from an image that someone let me use for free). The only downside is knowing someone else can use the images too. I’ve already seen one image I nearly used on another ebook cover!