Friday, August 3, 2012

Where to Find Royalty Free Images & Footage by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Even though I'm an author who loves the written word, I'll be one of the first to admit that images are often just as powerful--sometimes instantly--through first impressions. That's why I believe images should accompany blog posts, articles, and are instrumental in video book trailers. It's also why YouTube made such a huge splash and isn't showing any signs of slowing down, and Pinterest is emerging as one of the top Social Media sites these days.

However, since many of us aren't professional photographers, and we can't be everywhere catching every possible image, we often have to rely on photos that others have taken. Therefore, we need to make sure we aren't violating any copyright laws by posting our images. If you take a photo, of objects and places then you have ownership of those photos, but if you take photos of people, you will need to get them to sign a permission release form giving you permission to use and publish their photo. If you choose to use stock photos and video, you'll want to make sure it is royalty-free or in the public domain.

Royalty-Free photos are NOT necessarily FREE!

Royalty-Free refers to the right to use copyrighted material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties for each use or per volume sold, each time it is posted or used, or for a specified time period of use or sales.

Public Domain includes works or intellectual property in which the rights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable.

When I need to use stock photos and videos, here are a few places I go:

Wikipedia - They have lots of photos that have been released into the public domain. I often use them for images of other places I cannot personally visit or things I cannot personally obtain.

Stock.xchng - This is my favorite site for still photos! They often have some great images that you won't find anywhere else. Most of them are free, but once in a while, the author will want permission and you have to email them and ask, or they would like you to give them credit in a byline or link back of some sort.

Flickr - This site has some copyrighted material, but you can do an Advanced Search in the Commons section for public domain images and add to them if you want.

Dreamstime - Free photos that are royalty-free.

iStock Photo - If you have to pay for royalty-free images and video, I like this site the best. You can purchase credits as needed and download the files when you need them. I like this site because of the wide variety of selections they provide in both still photos, illustrations, and video clips.

Free Stock Footage - Royalty-free video footage. You may need to install a plugin to view the video feeds.

ShutterStock - Royalty-free video footage as well as motion animations and still photos. 

Animation Factory - Provides some great motion animations that are royalty-free, as well as PowerPoint backgrounts. 

Pond5 - Royalty-free video, photos and illustrations. Some of the videos are a little pricey, but the still images are $1-$2 ea.

Do you use any sites for images and videos that you would like to share that I haven't listed?


Heather Day Gilbert said...

Jennifer, what a helpful post! I've wondered about this myself. I didn't realize Wikipedia images were okay to use? I've tried to use my own photos, when possible, but you're so right--sometimes I just don't have photos of what I'm looking for.

Andy Scheer said...

Also check out:

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Heather, Most of Wikipedia's photos are in the public domain. If not, they list the type of license it is under if you click on the actual image.

Thanks, Andy.

Marji Laine said...

Great post, Jennifer. I've used the Flickr/Commons many times. Lately, I've noticed comments on some of the pictures that claim people are stealing the work when they use them. I thought, since they have the share key right on the photos, that they posted for that purpose?

Either way, thanks so much for the other options! I love to use pictures on my blog!

Amy Sullivan said...

I always look forward to your posts...they are little mini-lessons.

Just pinned this on my writing board so I can come back to it again.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


They may have not paid attention and posted it in the wrong place, but then that is their fault b/c others wouldn't know their mistake. The other thing that could be happening is people could be getting hold of someone's work and posting it there. If that is the case, they would have to trace it to those posters.

This week someone alerted me that my books were on a pirate site, so I sent the info to my publisher and they forwarded it to their legal dept. It's sad that so many people are dishonest in this world.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


So glad you find my posts helpful. Thanks for pinning it!

sally apokedak said...

Great I found some sites I didn't know about.

My latest favorite is: because they are free with attribution and there are a lot of cool pictures there.

I also: but stopped when weird advertisements showed up on my blog in some browsers. Not sure what that's about and I didn't take time to research it.

and another creative commons site:

Peter Shanks said...

I prefer to use to search for Creative Commons licensed images on flickr. It's got a better interface and it allows you to edit those images that are licensed for editing.

farnendus said...

Your articles are purely enough for me.
free worship video loops

Kawika said...

Thank you so much for your article. I have a site I would like to offer (yes, mine) at where we have over 12.5k clips in HD & SD formats online and ready for immediate download. We never require registration, e-mails, or credit cards. At all the footage is free for everyone all of the time.

We do ask if you use our material to please give us credit and a link to us if you can.

Many thanks,
David Schmerin
Fearless Leader