Finding Photos Online (the Right Way)

The Internet is filled to the brim with photographs, graphics, and videos. So many millions of photos of puppies and celebrities and beaches, and the Web just keeps stretching to accommodate them all. Although most of us know how to quickly download these images without paying a cent, that doesn’t mean that it is legally or ethically acceptable for us to do so. Few things in life are truly free, after all.

Do you know who created those images? Did you ask permission to use them? Are you aware if you’re violating copyright laws? Finding images online is easy, but if you’re planning to use them in a creative or commercial project, you need to understand the ethics and legal logistics of using photos you’ve found on the World Wide Web.

finding photos online

Finding Photos Online

Can I use images I find on Google for my blog or website?

Can you?  Not unless you have permission from the photographer. Just because an image is on the Internet and can easily be taken, doesn’t mean that it is free. With a little more time and effort, you can start finding photos online the right way and using them responsibly.

Why shouldn’t I download photos from Google Images?

When you use someone’s property without permission (including images and videos), you are stealing. If you are caught, you could be sued. Unlikely, yes, but you never know. If you aren’t caught, you still have to stomach the fact that you have stolen creative content and violated copyright laws. Ethically, legally, and professionally, finding photos online through Google and using them for you own gain is a bad idea.

I’m a horrible photographer. What if I can’t take my own photos?

No problem! Your first option is contact the photographer of a photo you like and ask for permission to use it. You will probably have to wait a few days or weeks for a response and they might ask you to pay a fee. Of course, there is always a chance that they will say no as well. Your second option is to use a stock photo website. Stock photo sites often offer royalty-free images, which means that you receive nearly unlimited use of the image as long as you follow the site’s licensing agreement. Stock photo websites are easy to use and you can download your photo right away.

Why is a stock photo website preferable to taking images off Google?

  • It is legal.
  • It is honest and ethical.
  • It is nearly as fast.

But aren’t stock photos cheesy, bland, and generally awful?

Some are, yes, but don’t let that dissuade you! Just as there are tons of images available on Google, there are tons of stock photos available online. Some are awkward and amateurish, while others are carefully crafted and gorgeous. Take your time finding a company that prides itself on curating beautiful, quality images and go from there.

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If you’re interested in finding photos online that are legal to use, shot by professionals, and not at all awkward or cheesy, check out Lightstock, the only stock photo website for the faith-based community. Affordable and easy to use, Lightstock is an online resource that makes finding photos online simple. Every photo on the site is personally curated and approved, so you’ll find a smorgasbord of quality images. To learn more about the process, create your free account, and begin downloading images and videos, click here.