Choosing Photos for Your Blog & Naming Names // The Windows of Heaven. Copyright by Al Young. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Al Young Studios.
The Windows of Heaven. Copyright by Al Young. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Al Young Studios.

For my end-of-summer blog series on Unnamed Women of the Bible, I’m very pleased to feature The Women of the Bible Art Collection by Al and Elspeth Young, used with permission.

I first came across Elspeth Young’s painting of the young widow of Zarephath, and thought it was perfect for my blog. The only trouble was that it was unattributed — no title, no acknowledgement of the artist, no permission line, no related link. I couldn’t use it that way, so I went searching and was delighted when I was able to identify both the painting and the artist and found a whole series of paintings of women of the Bible, with permission to post on my blog. Thank you, Al Young Studios!

If you enjoy these paintings, please don’t simply copy and re-post; instead, please give credit where credit is due and use them only with the appropriate copyright notice and link. You can find more information on the Al Young Studios website as part of their frequently asked questions.

I know that in addition to writing a blog post, it’s an extra step to find just the right illustration with the appropriate permission, but I urge all writers/bloggers, if you’re going to illustrate your blog post in any way, please make sure you have permission to do so.

Author Roni Loren learned this the hard way, and tells her story in Bloggers Beware: You CAN Be Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story. It wasn’t enough for her simply to apologize and to remove the photo. Besides, why not take the opportunity to acknowledge and encourage one another as part of our on-line community? It’s well worth the time and effort to name and be named.

So for blog photos, I turn to:

  1. Photos that I take myself, even though my equipment and skills are admittedly limited
  2. Friends who give me permission to use their photos
  3. Wonderful finds like The Women of the Bible Art Collection which allows for sharing online
    Photos and illustrations in small sizes suitable for my blog are free, although attribution and a link are required, which I would include anyway as a matter of course. Larger sizes and/or use without attribution are available for a fee.
  5. Creative Commons
    There are a number of different Creative Commons licences which can be confusing, so on the safe side I usually search for photos that allow for commercial use and modification. Those aren’t actually issues for me right now since my blog is non-commercial and I don’t generally modify photos, but I like having a broad category of use just in case I do decide to crop a photo or if my use changes in some other way.
  6. Author Media offers more links for finding legal photos for your blog.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: Do you have some favourite photo sources that you can share?


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7 thoughts on “Choosing Photos for Your Blog & Naming Names

  1. I’ve been a lot more conscious about picking photos. I wish there were more sources of good, free photos that span a broad range… free especially important.

    I attempt, if I know the source, to at least attribute where I found the image. Since I’m not “selling” anything, IIRC, it falls under “fair use” in those cases… If it looks, though, like someone’s hard work went into it… I’ll skip it and aim for something else… it is a challenge, though… thanks for the tips, April.

  2. I was pretty bad for this, which is why my posts for the last while haven’t had photos. If they do, they’re usually very generic photos like a book cover where I can’t imagine the people I’m taking from having a problem sharing. I would like to try to monetize my site somehow soon and I would definitely have to be smarter about my photos in that case.

  3. THANK YOU April. As an image-maker I know what it’s like to be taken for granted or worse. So refreshing to see this post about picture use! 🙂

  4. Thanks, all — you’re very welcome. I think the whole area of permissions and fair use can be quite confusing, and I’m still learning and glad for company along the way.

  5. I like using museum-quality images on my blogs. A handful of our greatest museums and libraries have taken the lead in opening their digital collections to creative use by the general public. Always check to make sure the image is truly open access (some are unavoidably affected by copyright, etc.). As always, it remains common courtesy to acknowledge—and link back to—your source when using the images.

    National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC):

    The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD):

    Yale University Library Digital Collections:

    Yale Center for British Art:

    Other digital collections at Yale:

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art:

    The British Museum:

    British Library:

    There are others, too.

    I recently used some extraordinary images from the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts when publishing a blog series on The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel:

    I really appreciate these links – thank you so much for taking the time to share them! – April

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