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As a freelance web designer, I have many clients who have blogs attached to their business website. They blog to provide information to their clients, keep them up to date with their latest news and events and to add a little bit of extra Google love to their website. Adding some attractive, high quality photos to their blog posts will certainly add a touch of class, but they must be aware of image copyright.

Search Google images and you will find pretty much any image you could ever need, but just right clicking and saving the image to use on your blog will almost certainly be in violation of someone’s copyright. Someone took that photo and they own the rights to it. How will they ever tell? Well with free tools such as TinEye, it’s really not that hard to see where photos came from and who is using someone else’s images. Many people do “borrow” other peoples images without asking and it is the way of the digital age, but whilst the chances are low, there is in fact a chance you could get into some serious hot water for using a copyrighted image without permission.

Fortunately there is an alternative that wont land you with a nasty lawsuit or threatening emails. There are several online databases of free images that you are allowed to use, even commercially, for no cost at all, because the photographer has nicely receded their rights to the image.

So next time you need a professional image but don’t want to pay, check out some of the resources below.

Just remember to read the licening agreements of each site to make sure you comply with any restrictions that may be in place as each site will have it’s own set of rules.

1. free images (formerly Stock.XCHNG)
Check this site out first! You need to register to download the images but once you are set up, there is a stack of decent images to use on your website or blog.

2. Openphoto
plenty of photo categories to browse through. Some are not the best quality but well worth a look to see if anything is good enough.

Easy to search the images and some nice shots on there too. As with anything it can take some time to find that perfect image tho!

4. Pixel Perfect Digital
Again, some good images on here if you take the time to have a look around.

5. Flickr
Flickr is the biggest photo sharing website around, and is used by some awesome photographers so there is a good chance you will find something great on here. To find images that are free to use, go to the Advanced Search Page, then select “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”.