Thou Shalt Not Steal (Online Images)

Ah, graphics and photos. That blurry area of intellectual property where a Google image “search and save” can land you in a lot of hot water if you steal, even accidentally. I blog a lot – for myself and my clients. Plus I do presentations. And I like to use photos to capture attention. You should too – all the recent statistics say that posts with media (photos, videos, etc.) get more attention. In fact, one study says tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. (this and 41 more cool stats available on HubSpot’s post here.) So how do you create content without stealing?

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT AN AFFILIATE WITH ANY OF THESE COMPANIES – I LIKE THEM SO I USE AND RECOMMEND THEM. I am not getting paid anything for this – it’s just my own two cents.

FREE: Pixabay

There are a few free sources and a few inexpensive sources that I use and recommend. First, the free. Pixabay has a good selection an is really free. I recommend getting a free account so you can simply download everything. Note the size options when you download and also the ability to follow the photographer if you like their work. Finally, after every download you have the option of buying the photographer a coffee via PayPal. I think this is quite nice – it allows you to give back for exceptional work. There are over a million photos and illustrations to choose from and the search works well.

Sample Pixabay Image: bull-frog-2525989_640

Sample Pixabay Image: bridge-2527577_640

I searched for “phone” and more than 3,500 images came up. The quality of images to choose from was great. There were several filters including category, orientation, and color as well. Ads for paid images from Shutterstock appear along the top row (caution, these are not included as free!) but if you ignore them it’s not distracting.

Pixabay Search: Phone

Pixabay Image: telephone-586268_640

PAID: Envato Elements and Adobe Stock

I used two paid services and I have good things to say about both – they are different and have pros and cons. But first, a word about paid services in general. I pay a flat monthly retainer for both services (it happens to be $29 each in this case). Generally speaking, if you do a lot of work with graphics (blogs, presentations, design work, etc.) subscribe rather than paying by-the-piece for art. It just makes sense. I downloaded 78 photos the other night before I found the “right” one for a PPT deck I was working on. I kept swapping and trying different ones until I was happy.

Envato Elements:

So for projects when I need lots and lots of images, I start with Envato. Earlier this year, Envato (whom I loved for their templates anyway) introduced a flat-rate monthly program: $29 unlimited downloads of ALL web templates, graphics, fonts and photos. Not too shabby since I was already paying $20 or $30 each for some of their templates! So for the PPT search I mentioned? Because I was using Envato, the 78 images didn’t cost me anything more – it was all included for my $29 a month fee. They are up to about 250k photos now – not a ton but certainly a good selection. I think their quality is higher than the free images at Pixabay. The search feature and filters are good too, with more than 5,000 results returned.

Envato Search: Phone

Adobe Stock:

Adobe is pretty amazing. Tons of filters, the results are super professional and polished, and it has just about everything you could ever want or need. It’s also my last stop because it costs money. I pay a monthly fee of $29.99 for up to 10 images that I can bank (up to 120 images max) for projects. These images are worth it. They are beautiful.

Adobe Stock Search: Phone

My search for “phone” yielded 1.5 million results: that’s more phone photos than the other databases had in total. 

Moral of the story: DON’T STEAL IMAGES OFF THE INTERNET. There are plenty of images available from sites like this for free or (very inexpensive) so it’s just not necessary to take the risk. Want help? Talk to a professional – at Mainspire we’ve been doing this for a long time. We don’t steal. We are more than happy to help sort out intellectual property assets and build your brand library. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And we love doing this type of thing!