A wise person once said that a picture is worth a thousand words, wise words indeed. So we begin our search for the perfect image. Faced with the prospect of handing over extortionate wads of cash, that frankly, even a corrupt despote would be proud of, to professional image libraries like Getty, most of us retreat to taking our chances with the free Google image search. However, I challenge you to type in such innocuous phrases as ‘mother and son’ with safe search off. Unless of course, men in nappies is what you are after, but I don’t think it is quite the blissful image most people associate with the parent-child bond.
Over the last few years a network of sites offering royalty free images for no cost have sprung up such as stock.xchang and Freerange. These are limited to a relatively small pool of images to choose from, unless tacky 80’s-style posed images is your kind of thing; but hey, that’s fashionable at the moment isn’t it. Luckily there is an alternative out there, Creative Commons.
If you don’t already know, Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that provides a simple way for people around the world to freely license their work. Creative Commons was invented to create a more flexible copyright model, replacing “all rights reserved” with “some rights reserved”. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of others. There’s a plethora of licences available for images, video, fonts, skateboarding penguins, that last one is a blatent lie, but you never know. The great thing is that high-quality shared content is available without fear of archaic copyright law.
The tool I’ve found most useful when deadlines are looming is Compfight, the alternative Flickr search tool. Tucked away in Flickr’s native search is a way to filter the results so that only images that are freely available under a Creative Commons licence are shown, but it’s not the simplest system to use and can be a bit slow. Compfight takes all the Flickr functionality and makes light work of the arduous task of finding that perfect image. One thing I would say is that some mean spirited people out there don’t license their work for commercial use, but Compfight thought about this providing a tool to filter these out. When using Creative Commons images make sure to credit the creator somewhere. A link in the footer to a credits page listing their details normally does the trick.
Well as they say, the perfect picture is worth a thousand words, but now it doesn’t have to cost £1000. Below are some links to useful free stock image sites and if you’re feeling decadent I’ve included a few pay-for services for good measure.