Pictures can say a thousand words and it can be more eye-catching than a screen of words. Using photos and other images is important to blogging. It can also be fun to find the perfect picture that conveys your post's meaning.
It is imperative that we use images responsibly. Like any other created work (also known as intellectual property) photos, drawings, digital images, etc are protected by copyright law. That pretty photo or fun clipart belongs to someone. And unless you created it, that image you want to use may not be free to use. Just because it came up on Google images, it doesn't mean you are free to use it.
There is a clause in the copyright law that allows for "fair use", but there are stipulations to what can be used. If you are doing a review of a book, movie, or album then you can use the cover because it provides a visual reference to what you are discussing.
Beyond fair use the easiest way to use images freely is to use ones that are in the public domain or have a creative commons license that the owner specifies how their images can be used. There are a few different creative commons licenses so be sure you understand the agreement before you use the image. I use images that have a CC0 license because I can use it for personal or commercial projects, I can modify the image, and I don't have to provide attribution (though it is still nice to do so).
Where do you find these free stock images? I mostly use a site called LibreStock which searches a number of sites with free stock images. But in truth, most of my images come from Pixabay. Wikimedia Commons is another good source for public domain images. Be sure to read the details with the image as there may be requirements such as linking to a specific site.
A word of caution: Protect yourself when even when using an image from a free stock site. I have read about 2 instances where the blogger claimed to get an image from a free stock site with a free to use license (public domain or creative commons), but then was sued for copyright infringement. They had no record of where they got the image or proof that it was listed under a creative commons license.
Whether is a person taking an image that isn't free, claiming it is theirs and then publishing it on a free stock site under a CC license or the person who owns the photo posting it under CC and then pulling it, it is your responsibility to protect yourself. To do that it is recommended that you take a screenshot that shows the website and license. With this 'proof' you may be able to show that you, in good faith, used the image as the license allowed and that the offending party (the person who uploaded the image or perhaps the website) are responsible. **I'm not a lawyer so it would be best to get the advice of a lawyer if you are concerned about the images you use and your liability.**
According to CreativeCommons.org, CC licenses are irrevocable. If you use an image that is under the license and later the owner of the image decides to stop distributing the image under the CC license, you can continue to use the image. Again, this is why it is important to take a screenshot to show that when you got the image it was under the license.
Of course, using your own images can eliminate this headache. You can dress up your photos with online programs like Picmonkey. So simple staging can also yield a nice picture. I used a pillowcase for the background and some glass rocks for a bit of sparkle.
Another great thing about photos is using them for inspiration. A number of sites, mostly geared towards fiction writers, have weekly photo prompts. Have you used a photo prompt for inspiration?
I have thought about doing a photo prompt that would be open to any bloggers. Would you be interested?
Here's the deal. There would be a photo with a link up and then you could write a short post on whatever would fit your site and the photo. For me, the image might remind me of a favorite book and I would write about it. A fiction writer might create a short story, a mommy blogger might share a family memory the image invoked. After doing your post, you would add it to the linky. Everyone participating would be encouraged to visit the other blogs.
A to Z Challenge I tried really hard to come up with all P words (plus I like alliteration), but I couldn't find anything to substitute for challenges.
Photo challenges can be a fun way to create your own database of photos to use on your blog. I've done the Photo A Day challenge a few times. In this challenge, you are given a word for each day of the month and then you find something to take a picture of that day. Sometimes they are easy, like the flowers, or they can be difficult, like cascade.
I have thought about doing a bookish Photo A Day challenge. Anyone interested?
The challenge really got me thinking creatively. Both to take a great photo, but also to creatively think about the challenge that day.
Post your photos!
Having great photos is just the first step. Even if they don't go into a blog post, sharing them on your social media sites is a great way to encourage engagement. Instagram is all about the picture. But Facebook and even Twitter are becoming more image-centric. On Facebook, if I ask the question "what you are reading? and then upload a cute picture to go with it, I get much more interaction than if I just posed the question alone (plus Facebook shows it to more people).
You don't have to have a fancy camera or much photography knowledge to take a great photo, so don't be afraid to snap a few dozen each day.
How do you use photos in your blogging?
Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.
Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.