Monday, January 23, 2017

Blog Biz: How to get beautiful photos for your blog posts

Today's Blog Biz post was inspired by a reader who asked why I said some time ago that I was deleting old blog posts. Well, I have many reasons but the biggest is image copyright. I've been blogging for more than 10 years and back in the day, we bloggers just grabbed willy-nilly any and every photo and image we found on the world wide web and used those for our blog posts. So I had (or have since I'm not yet done editing!) dozens of blog posts that have images that were used without permission and credit.

Working mamas, that's called stealing intellectual property.

One of the most worrying and creativity-numbing components of blogging is sourcing images. There are many horror stories of bloggers using images that were protected by copyright, assuming they would just get a warning or takedown notice but instead, ended up paying money due to an image copyright claim—it’s a scary thought.

More and more bloggers have become law-savvy and have prepared several alternate methods of obtaining images to avoid the possibility of being sued by a disgruntled photographer. In all fairness, people who create those images have a right to enforce their copyrights, but no one wants to pay someone thousands of dollars just because they used an image without permission, so it’s best to avoid that trouble altogether.

So does this mean we won't use photos for our blog posts anymore? In this particular age of social media, beautiful images matter. They are what make your blog stand out, they help break up long text, and they make people read your blog. Sourcing beautiful images is key to creating a successful blog, so here are some tips to get the images you need:

Take your own photos.

This is an obvious one but many people seem to forget that their smartphones can take ridiculously good photographs. If you need some snaps of nature or the skyline or your outfit, then why not grab your phone and go for a little walk around the block? If you need to take generic stock photographs of a computer or a chair, then why not just snap some pictures of your house or if your house isn't Instagram-worthy, go to your friend’s home and take a few shots?

Use stock photos.
If you aren’t in a position to take your own photographs, then consider a stock photo service. These can get pretty expensive, but they offer an insanely large collection of stock photographs with comprehensive search functions. I sometimes use stock photos, too, but I use free photos. Yes, there are free ones out there! The ones I used for this blog post are from Unsplash*, just to give you an example. I'll make another blog post on stock photo services! With these services, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find some photographs to suit your blog, but chances are your readers might notice they are stock pictures and be put off by your lack of creativity.

UPDATE Jan 31, 2023: I just deleted all the stock photos I got from Unsplash. Scrubbed my entire blog of their images. Apparently, there are disputes about copyright over some photos on their site. I know because I just got a letter about it. This lawyer's saying his client owns the photos I got from Unsplash. The photographer credited in Unsplash says the photos are his. Not worth the trouble! So no more stock photos for me. I'll just...

Learn to create images.
If it’s not photographs you’re after, then perhaps you need to get involved with the design process and learn your way around graphic design. Fortunately, there are many online tools that let you create your own posters, flyers or other images that are suited for the web or social media use. I just discovered Canva and I've used it for creating my media kit. I plan to make memes and working-mama quotes next! Now if you’re into comic art, creating banners or even mixing stock images to create infographics and other similar designs, then pick up basic skills with software like GIMP or Photoshop.

Hire a freelancer.
If you need a specific image made or a picture taken of a particular location, then there are hundreds of freelancers on the internet that are just waiting to be hired. A quick Google search will reveal thousands of results for budding freelance designers and photographers who are willing to work for less money just to build up a portfolio for when they pitch to higher profile clients. If you’re lucky, you can get a beautifully created image for less than the price of lunch. Yes—please pay. I have a lot of friends who are photographers and graphic designers who HATE bloggers who ask for ex-deals. Please offer them payment. I'm sure they'll be willing to work within your budget if you're really nice. 

I still think that taking your own photos is the best and easiest solution. I use my iPhone 6 and Olympus camera. Some bloggers who have lots of money invest in cameras and equipment (lights, tripods, reflectors, etc) and their investment paid off, especially with gaining Instagram followers. 

You don't have to do the same yet. Just use whatever you have, take photos in a well-lit area, use your phone's filters, use photo editing apps, and master flatlays and your perfect angle. Take your own photos! It’s easy to upload to your computer or website, you have full ownership of the images and you don’t need to worry about infringing on someone’s copyrights. Good luck, mommy bloggers!


  1. True naman po. Pag maganda ang photos nkaka attract na basahin ang blogs especially those na hindi tlga followers. Pero syempre kaming mga mahilig magbasa ng blogs aware na kami sa mga pinopost nyo but still nice photos is a plus. 😉😘

  2. I try to take my own photos whenever I can. I also make my watercolor art as my blog post's image.

  3. Thanks for this Frances! I learned two new things: stock photos and Canva! =)


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