Pretty as a picture

Border collie and frisbee. Photo: Ksuksa Raykova/deviantART

TOPIC: How to find photos and illustrations for your blog

DUE TUESDAY AUGUST 27: A photograph, illustration or map for each of your blog posts so far. The images you choose must observe copyright. In other words, you must have established that they are available for use under a creative commons licence, or you must have the author’s permission to use his or her work. Of course you can always use your own photos!

READ: Creative Commons FAQ


Most eye-catching blogs use images to enhance their appeal – the Internet is after all a highly visual medium. Acres and acres of text unbroken by occasional illustrative relief are actually tiring to the eye, and tend to turn readers away. Of course there are exceptions, but a text-only blog should be very clean and unfussy if it is to be attractive to your audience. If you’re publishing journalism-style work on your blog, photos, illustrations and graphics are essential. Your Syria posts might serve as good examples: they really need a map so that your readers know where in the world Syria is.

One of the first places to look for good photos to use is Flickr. Head straight for the advanced search page and scroll down to the bottom where you’ll see an option to tick the box “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” (in the photo below). Tick that box, and perform your search.

Once you’ve found a photo you like, click on it. At the top left above your photo, click on the link “actions – view all sizes” (see below).


On the next page you’ll be offered a variety of different photo sizes to download. I recommend keeping a folder on your computer or USB for blog photos, so you have them all in one place.


It’s absolutely vital that you don’t infringe anyone’s copyright. For that reason, you cannot just download any old photo or illo you find using a Google Image search. The cat photo above is an example of one which is not available for use without permission (and probably payment to the photographer). Despite Flickr offering us a range of download sizes, the critical point is the licence: it says clearly “All rights reserved …” (see below), which means you may not use the photo without asking. If you’re crazy about the pic, and absolutely must have it, you need to contact the photographer to ask for permission.


Flickr photos which are available for use will have a licence like the one below, which says the photographer agrees you can reproduce his or her photo, but you must attribute it (i.e. provide a photo credit). In the example below, the photo credit would be “Photo: donnmjck/flickr”. If you can make the photo credit a hyperlink back to the photographer’s Flickr page, that’s even better.

You must become familiar with Creative Commons licences and the rules of using other people’s work. You might also consider licensing your own work, and making the photos you take available for others to use.

Another really good source of illustration is deviantART. Again, observing the artist’s copyright is mandatory. You can usually find information about the terms of use if you click through to the artist’s deviantART page. If there’s nothing there, you should leave a message on the page asking for permission, or email if there’s an email address provided.


LINKS: To see more photos by Ksuksa Raykova, go to her blog (if you have Chrome, it will translate it from Russian to English), or to her page on deviantART.


Copyright on the Internet

Links for CC-licenced music


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