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Secrets About Photos and Other Images for Freelance Writers


My cats, Dudley and Toulouse, all rights reserved, by Anne Wayman

Photos and other images are something that freelance writers often want to add to their work. Sometimes clients request this service and sometimes we just want to use photos to attract attention to our own work.

These images come in two varieties, the ones we create ourselves and the ones we get from some other source.

Photos and images you create

When you take a photo or draw a picture you own it. In the United States you own the copyright to it. You can use it on your own writing, or sell the rights to a client. You can sell one time use, all rights, etc. If you sell all rights you can’t sell it again without the buyer’s express, written permission. When your photo includes identifiable people you may need a photo release from them if you plan to sell or use the picture in a public way.

As the creator of the photo or image you’re also entitled to credit. Since I took the picture of my cats I’ve added a credit line to it. I could have included the copyright symbol and the date, but I don’t know how to get those in the caption box here, so I skipped it.

Photos and images you didn’t create

If you didn’t take the picture or create the image, you can’t use it – unless ou buy the rights to it or are otherwise given permission to use it.

Fortunately there are plenty of places to get photos and other images for free. Some require attribution, others don’t.

I use Pixabay a lot. All their images are free and require no attribution. You are free to alter the photos and drawings anyway you like. Currently there are more than 1.3 million images – mostly photos that have been contributed for free use. When you’re feeling grateful it’s easy to tip them by buying the artist a metaphorical cup of coffee. Another site I like is Pickwizard.

Of course there is the huge library of photos at Flickr: Creative Commons. Here the rules are different. You can search for photos and images that allow you to use the art on commercial sites, with alteration or not, with attribution or not, etc. Generally attribution is required but it’s pretty simple.

Additional sites offering royalty-free images can be found here.

If you don’t like these sites you can google up many more with searches like royalty free photos, free photos, etc. Just be sure you’re following the rules.

Keep in mind that I live and work in the United States of America. Each country has it’s own set of laws about copyright. You need to know the law where you work.

What questions do you have about using pictures and images? Ask in comments and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Write, take photos, well and often,

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