Pictures are to posts as lipstick is to women. They catch your eye, provide a mental image for the words, and beautify the face of the blog. They are a vital accessory, and I have long been devoted to their cause. However, I had no sooner started blogging then I was forced to recognize that you can't get pictures from just anywhere. If you google for pictures- you end up using somebody's work (imagine using somebody else's lipstick). Regardless of what you may think about intellectual property-rights and free-loading, the idea of being contacted by an incensed photographer years down the road (when they stumbled on my blog and found the photos they took on their trip to Tahiti were being used without so much as a citation) was not a pleasant thought. Consequently, I discovered the below alternatives.
TAKE THEM YOURSELF
Believe it or not, I do take some of my own photos (unfortunately I am not handy enough with a camera to take as many as I should like). Some bloggers, it seems, take mostly their own photos (kudos to them), but I have only attempted it a few times,with middling success. Another possibility is to use a friend's pictures (and credit them). I've done this before when grandparents or friends took good shots.
You can still go the Google route- and actually contact the photographer for the use of the photo. Down this road I have usually met with success. (I think photographers are typically honored that someone likes their photos and that they'll get a shout-out in a post-script on your blog). The downside is you do need to contact them in advance since it often takes 24-48 hours for the owner to get back to you (hence a possible delay in your post). I have gotten a "no" only once- when the photograph was on the website of a plumbing and water-damage repair company (and they themselves had gotten the photograph from a third source). [People, one of my favorite Gogyohka-Thursdays is waiting in darkness for the right water-damaged-book photo. Contact me if you have one.]
Currently this is where I get most of my photos. If you google "free images" you'll find host sites with a reasonably vast selection. Microsoft has quite a large collection- on occasion Wikipedia has a few historical ones. Also some image sites have free-trials where they let you download a hundred or so before asking you pay.
Yes, I have actually purchased photos before. Companies such as Fotolia or Dreamstime will let you purchase credit packages to be used at your discretion. As a poor college student, this is far from cheap. But when I have cash to spare I'll get a few credits for the rainy day in which I simply can't find a fitting photo in public domain.
I should mention- purchasing photos is a time-consuming and risky venture. I looked through a good 2,000 before selecting the one at the top of this post... and then somehow (I don't know how) I selected the wrong size and bought the XXL version- like the kind you'd print and cover a wall with. (I don't like it THAT much!!!) So instead of costing me $2.50, it cost me a disgusting, gut-wrenching $24. I called the company but there's nothing they can do. It's a done deal. I'm pretty depressed now. (I'm thinking about using it twenty more times just to get my money's worth.)
So do me a favor and please scroll back up and fully appreciate the heading photo.
*Photo of the Metropolian by John Glines. Used by permission.