You’re a blogger. You want amazing, high resolution media like pictures and videos to incorporate into your blog. But there’s one problem: you’re a blogger, not a photographer.

How do you access high quality images that are relevant to your content, and visually engaging to people? Even tougher – what if you want to do it legally, and without paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars in image licensing fees?

Well, we’re here to tell you that yes, there is a way. You don’t have to empty your life savings into image licensing fees, and you don’t have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars, and invest hundreds of hours into learning the skills and tricks of the photography trade. If you don’t know the difference between a DSLR and a point-and-click, and you couldn’t tell your mother the difference between the aperture and shutter speed settings on the camera they got you last year for the holidays, fret not! We’re going to cover some of the best paid, and free image options out there for bloggers at present.

Paid Image Licensing: Stock Imagery

The idea behind stock photography is that professional photographers take their pictures, edit them in post-production, polish them up, and then license their work on a per-use basis. This is appealing to stock photographers because licensing their photos can become a source of passive income, and they can make money while they sleep (who doesn’t like that), and it’s appealing to people out there who aren’t gifted photographers, because they’re able to access and use visually engaging images produced by others legally.

Often times, licensing fees will vary based on the intended use of the licensee. If someone wants to license an image for non-commercial use, or educational use, the fee will likely be significantly cheaper than if they want to license for commercial use. This variation is in place so that if a stock image becomes an iconic part of some company’s brand, the photographer is compensated appropriately. It’s also in place so that evil corporations don’t take advantage of a poor photographer’s (yes, they can be starving artists, too). If a photographer’s image will genuinely help a company profit through it’s existing marketing and distribution channels, the photographer ought to be compensated appropriately, no?

Three Optons for Paid Stock Photography

1. Getty Images

Getty images is by far the most popular, best known stock photography site on the internet. This is the most central hub of professional photographers, and Getty has an extremely rigorous selection process. If you’re a big company, or you have serious resources to invest in top-notch stock photos for your site or blog, this is absolutely the right place for you to come.

Licensing fees for the same image can vary from $49 for the most basic, stripped down license to more than $2,500 for full on magazine cover and product / packaging usage. Can you see what we were talking about when we said serious resources?

2. iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto is the second most popular stock image hub on the net, right after GettyImages. iStockPhoto has an excellent reputation, though it is generally not as popular amongst the highest grades of professional photographers. Freelance photographers love iStockPhoto because it is easier for them to get their work in front of a large audience, and have a shot at making passive income through image licensing like the Pros do at GettyImages. Licensing fees can vary widely again, with the same image going for $95 all the way up to $1845 with full extended licensing options.

Although the pool of photographers on iStockPhoto is more biased towards freelancers, the image quality is outstanding, and you can find some real deals on iStock if you look closely enough.

3. ThinkStock Photos

ThinkStock brings an interesting spin on payment to the concept of image licensing, allowing consumers to purchase monthly subscriptions and “image packs” in sets of 5, 25, 100, and 250.  A month long subscription including 25 image downloads per day will set you back $299, and a year long subscription with 25 downloads per day goes for $2,388.

ThinkStock may not be ideal for big companies looking for image licenses to slap on products, but it’s a really interesting option for content publishers who publish high volumes of content, and need high grade, professional looking images for all of it. Larger blogs and sites might consider investing this much money into a year long subscription if they’re satisfied with the image selection, as it costs about as much as it would cost to hire a professional photographer for a serious photo shoot, all equipment included.

Three Optons for Free Images

But what if you’re a smaller blog, or are satisfied with using high quality photos which might be slightly lower quality than a serious professional photographer would put out (though still good quality)? Can you find these images and use them legally? How do you have to handle attribution?

We’ve got three good options for you to consider here:

1. WikiMedia Commons: Photographs

WikiMedia has a host of images licensed under the Creative Commons all of which you can search through on the site. Though you might not find stunning professional grade photographs here, there are some really funky public domain photographs from the 1800s, and some real finds if you put the time into searching. Anything that’s public domain is available for your use, so search away!

2. Creative Commons: Images

Creative commons allows you to put search modifiers on images, videos etc. from lots of different sources. If you click on the “Google Images” box, and put “technology” into the search bar, click enter, and you’ll come up with all of the images indexed in Google Images licensed under the creative commons. You can also click a simple box to sort for images available for commercial use with modification depending on how seriously you want to search around, and this is one of the quickest, best ways to find the kind of images you need for regular content publication because there are so many sources to select from.

Anant highly recommends this search method for bloggers and small businesses starting blogs.

3. Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr, the internet’s most popular image sharing site, has a filter you can set up to search for images from a number of commons databases, including the creative commons, and also the US Govt. Works commons, where all of the images are purely public domain. Attribution rules are pointed out on the site, and those familiar with Flickr’s interface may prefer to go through Flickr Commons searches for their free images. Our favorite option is definitely the creative commons, though Flickr has a definite allure, and a huge pool of images to select from.


There are plenty of options you, as an individual, small business, or large corporation can make use of to source highly engaging images to match with your written content and/or sales copy. We’ve covered three of the best paid, and free options here to give everyone a sense of what’s out there. Anant specializes in finding resources for enterprises which are free to save them money, like open source software, or public domain images. If you’re curious to learn more about how you can save money by making use of open source software and things like public domain images, feel free to get in touch with us directly here.