One of the things you have to be careful of when you’re on the mend from a bad spell is accepting too many projects all due at the same time. When you suddenly feel like you’re coming back to life, it’s easy to overestimate how much you can do. Spent a few late nights and my posts are a bit behind, but got the work done on time. My creative time was again limited thanks to playing catch up and taking on new short-term projects, but I did manage a few minutes to let my mind wander. One of the things I played with was stock photos and online photo software. Working with those, I realized many of you may also spend some time trying to get just the right photo for your posts and projects. In case you need them, here are some of the sites I’ve found useful (I’m not advocating any particular site or program, just sharing some of the tools I use – none of these are affiliate links):
I probably use this one most of all, I don’t know why. Associated with iStock, you do have to be careful to select only non-sponsored images if you don’t want to have to pay for them and it is required that you attribute where you found the images. On my site, you’ll see this often as a caption under the photo with links to the original photographer (just a good idea to do anyway because it’s all about helping each other get their art out there), to Photopin and to the Creative Commons licensing information. If you’re not sure about what Creative Commons is, I posted about this a few years ago.
One of the ladies in my new writing group introduced me to this one which works very much like Photopin although they’re associated with ShutterStock. As a result, you usually get entirely different results. Pixabay doesn’t tend to have as many returns as Photopin, but they do seem to be more accurate as to what I’m actually looking for. Whether searches are more targeted there because they have better matching algorithms or because I figured out what search terms to use on one of the other sites is still a matter of debate. Attribution is not necessary when using this site and, if you can’t find what you’re looking for exactly, you can click on an image that comes close and find other suggestions in a slide bar just under the main image.
It seems like everyone has heard of Flickr as a photo sharing site, but you might not know you can search for Creative Commons works there that you can use safely on your site. They also have a very helpful guide through the whole gamut of Creative Commons licensing symbols that you might come across in your search. This makes things overly complicated and frustrating for me. When I find the perfect photo I want to use, I want to know the licensing and attribution requirements and restrictions right up front.
This site is a little different from the others. The ability to search images is much more limited, but you are allowed to download high definition images completely free and without attribution requirements. The photos that are uploaded can be pretty amazing, so it’s worth the effort to browse through every once in a while, but I haven’t figured out yet how to find just the perfect photo for my purpose at any given time. However, it is possible to tag and save photos so even if you don’t know how you’re going to use it yet, you can always come back and find it later.
This one’s a little bit different and perfect if you’re running a more nostalgic type theme. It’s a collection of photos from the public archives, so they’re free to download and free to use without attribution. (Always make sure you double check the usage requirements. Even though I try to get it right as much as I can before sharing, I can sometimes get it really wrong. Also, terms can change over time.) As I’ve mentioned more than once, it’s always nice to attribute where you can to show the photographer a little love, but in this case, you might even have opportunity to incorporate a little extra history into your posts.
Now that you have all these great photos to use, you might want to take some time to adjust them a little. There are a lot of good free and paid programs available. I usually use Photoshop for my projects just because I’ve been using it since the stone ages (you know, the 90s), but I don’t get a chance to play with it as often as I’d like, so some of my skills have stagnated a bit. Plus, it can be a really expensive program for hobbyists. I recently found Fotojet which automates a lot of the processes I mess with on Photoshop without me having to remember the steps. It doesn’t have quite the functionality I want being used to Photoshop, but it has tons of templates for a variety of purposes and downloads images directly to the computer. That makes it easy to make the final adjustments I want in Photoshop. I’m excited to play with this idea a bit more.
How about you?
Everybody has their favorite tools. Which programs do you use? Can you recommend any other favorite photo sites to help us decorate our blogs? Share your ideas in the comments.