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How, Where, and Why of Image Use

This image from Microsoft Office Images
People read text-only books all the time, but they come to the internet with different expectations.

If you want people to read your blog posts, you must use images and use them strategically. They break up the monotony of text, attract attention, and add color and meaning to your words.

This image from Graphic Fairy

  • Make them relevant to your content
  • Size them so you can put text to the right or left (like all examples in this post)
  • Use full size when doing tutorials or when it's important to show details
  • Don't use images illegally

This image from Stockvault.

Legal Use of Images:
For the first year I was blogging, I thought I could use anything that wasn’t watermarked or didn’t specifically forbid downloading. Then I took an online course that explained that my ability to download an image didn’t mean I could use it legally. It took me many hours to remove images from my old posts, but I knew the Lord would want me to do things right. A Christian blog stealing images just wouldn’t do!

This image from unprofound requires no attribution.

Since that time, I’ve depended mostly on * Microsoft Office Images. If you own Microsoft Office, I encourage you to read their guidelines. See this Q&A which directs you to user guidelines.

Here’s a few other image sources I’ve found:

This is my personal photo.

* The Graphic Fairy offers free images of vintage artwork. They ask for attribution (blog name with link) when their images are used in blogs or websites.

*Use your own photos…take shots of you Bible, specific verses, friends and family in posed positions to match the themes of your articles or devotions.

Mona Lisa is from Olga's Gallery.
*Stockvault  offers free use images for non commercial purposes. Here's their Terms of Use. But be careful to use only the free images. You’ll see premium (not free) images in a band above and below the free images, which can be a little confusing. 

* Unprofound—aptly named, doesn't have the greatest collection, but all images are free and no attribution is required.

* Olga’s Gallery has a wonderful selection of masterpiece artwork that can be used freely for educational and non-profit use but attribution is required. (Terms of Use)

* Free Digital Photos sells images, but you can download certain sizes of most of their content if you give them full attribution with photographer's info and a link to their site within the post. Follow directions for download on their site and it will explain the correct way to do this.
Bible Picture Gallery by William Hole

For Christian Artwork, I've found several legal sites.
* Bible Picture Gallery offers some free images, but you can join for $3 a month or $23 for a lifetime. I opted for the lifetime membership for obvious reasons. They require attribution.

*Bible Revival offers a number of images for free use with attribution. It's hard to find specific images because there's no search tool, but you still might want to take a few hours to look through their lists and download images into a file folder for future use.

* Christians Unite appreciates attribution, but doesn't require it.

Image Source LaVista Church of Christ
* La Vista Church of Christ has a very extensive collection of Biblical images for which they require attribution. They have lovely vintage images from children's picture books on their site plus a list of other free images on the internet.

*John Bell's Christian Art Gallery is an excellent source for non-profit use. Each of his works has a Scripture in it, and you are required to use it as can't cut it or alter it. And I always put a link back to his site.

When doing a book review, it is legal to copy the image of the book cover for that use.

Even though I've given you this list, please be sure to double check their terms of use and make sure your blog or website qualify. Many of these examples are for non-profit use only. Some require you include the artist's or photographer's name. Some allow you to cut and/or alter the images and others do not.

Artwork by John Bell copyright 1998-2007, used with permission
On occasion I’ve asked permission to use an image I find on a site. This requires advance planning so you can get permission before you run the post. And I recommend you save the email/letter giving you permission for your records. 

Finding legal and appropriate images takes extra time and effort, but it greatly enhances your blog posts, attracting and keeping reader interest. 
P.S. Since writing this post, I learned that image use on the left side of the page breaks the reader's concentration. Read about this in my Font post.


  1. I think you had lots of company in thinking any image was fair game, so I think it's great you are teaching other bloggers to use care and be honest. Thanks for the resources too. I am especially excited about checking out The Graphic Fairy!

    I tend to either use my own images or to use Creative Common licensed images from Flickr.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation for Flickr Creative Commons...I've heard of this but never used it. I'll have to give it look. Thanks!

  3. Great list of resources! Thanks for taking the time to put this together!

  4. Thanks for this post! As a new blogger, I have been wondering about this.

  5. Thanks for the imformation - this is extreemly helpful

  6. Hi Gail - I've often felt I need to dig deeper with regards to pictures on my blog. Great advice. I have bookmarked this page so I can come back to it for future resources.
    God bless and thanks for linking this and others up. Look forward to seeing you there next week

  7. Yes, very helpful. I'm bookmarking this, too. Thank you.

  8. 99% of photographs on my blog are ones that I have taken myself - I find it easier than searching about on-line plus it gives me an actual use for all the photographs I take!


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All Scripture references NIV unless otherwise noted.