The danger of using photo images and what it will cost you

By Sonia Winland

Everyone loves images, but getting a letter from Getty Images is no joke. Has this ever happened to you? The other day I was reminded (not me personally) that using images that are not yours will cost you.

Below I want to discuss the dangers of using photo images and what it will cost you if you aren’t careful.

Google Images is so tempting and full of tons of images ready for the taking, but is it? If you haven’t lived under a rock, you know that using images that don’t belong to you will piss people off. I am guilty of using photos like this in the past, but now I make sure if I give credit where it’s due, or I don’t use an image at all.

Some might say, “Then why post them online in the first place?” I get it, but these days with websites like Pinterest and Instagram, it can be the difference of between a simple email or a bill.

The other day, someone I know received a letter from Getty Images with a bill for more than $800 for using a small part of a photo that belonged to them. Their first reaction was, “WTF, I didn’t know … .” Really? Now they know, and now they have to pay.

Don’t be this guy. They were able to negotiate the fee down, but they still have to pay regardless.

Let’s rewind for a moment: This happened to me five years ago when I was running a campaign for an ex-employer and used a photo of waves. The image came via an IT company we partnered with, and it was already a part of the campaign. Sure enough, a month later, we got a letter from Getty to remove the image, show proof that we owned it, or cough up $700. Needless to say, I was able to get the dogs off my back, but how many of you had to pay?

I know what you’re saying, “Girl, I am broke and don’t have money to shell out to these companies wanting tons of credits for one photo.”  Here’s the dilemma: Do you want to pay pennies now or dollars later? With that said, I have compiled a list of some alternatives, paid and free, to help you find images for your blog posts and how to avoid the big bad wolf.

  • Flickr– Everyone by now should know this website. The key is to look for images under their Creative Commons What if you don’t understand the license part of it all? What images can I use, and what should I stay away from?

If you go to this website for the first time, make sure you understand the meaning of each license. Visit the About the Licenses link for details of what the Creative Common symbols mean, so you understand what you can use and what you can’t.  Be sure to include a link back to the original user. Other options include:

  • MorgueFile:  I have used MorgueFiles for years, and it has tons of images you can use for free.  As always, attribute the photo to the original site, if known.
  • Creativity103: If you are into more abstract photos, this site is for you. Make sure you link back, but I didn’t see many photos, and using their search box tends to bring up photos that bring you back to
  • PixelPerfectDigital: It has a good array of pictures from Financial, Food, Games, Health, Holidays, Technology and more. Click on Galleries to find the free images, or you will end up at Shutterstock again.
  • PhotoPin: I just discovered this site geared towards bloggers. It has great images, but looking closely, when you click on a link, it simply forwards you to (via his affiliate link) anyway.
  • OpenClipArt: This site is full of clip art images that you can use if you’re into this type of images. The cool thing with this site is the ability to edit the clip art itself.
  • PhotodropperWhat I like about plugin is that I can find the images for my post from my dashboard in WordPress. The site offers a video on how it works, and it’s free.
  • Grunge Textures: If you’re into background textures, this site works great. It has tons of textures, paper, rock, rust, stucco and more. From what I found, it has some free images, and the bigger images have a fee.
  • Pixabay: It has free images you can use and heavily promotes other photos via Shutterstock. Make sure you look for Pixaby’s FREE images if you don’t want to pay.
  • Shutterstock: It has thousands of images, and they aren’t cheap. You can pay as you go or purchase a subscription.
  • Openphoto: It doesn’t have a ton of images but has some, nonetheless. And yes, there are free.
  • iStockPhoto(affiliate link): I have used this site for years and am a big fan. Some images are not cheap, and the site has changed over to a credit system for buying images. Some images will cost you a lot of credits, but to get around that, search for images that take less than 5 credits per photo.
  • StockVault: It has a good amount of free images, but make sure you click on its galleries to find them. The download button will be off the left-hand side to get a photo. If you miss it, you will end up clicking on images that will take you back to Shutterstock again.
  • Free Digital Photos: It has a large amount of photos to choose from, and the smallest photo is free. Anything larger will cost you a nominal fee.
  • Dreamstime: It has thousands of great photos and a credit system where you can buy so many credits to buy photos. It is a lot cheaper than for what you get for credits, but that doesn’t mean that each photo isn’t cheap to download. Right now, there is a sale of 60% off on credit pagesLimited time.
  • Unprofound: This website is a bit dark for me, but it has a color palette on its front page that you can click on to go to images in that line of coloring. No registration required, and the photos are free. Just link back of course.
  • PicdromeThis site is public domain, and the photos are free. With this site, you can also rate the photos.

Avoid the danger of getting nasty emails and unforeseen fees that will leave you broke. It is not worth it.

This blog was shared with permission of author Sonia Winland and first appeared on Visit the original link to see all of the images used to illustrate her point.

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