6 Ways to Use Other People’s Photos

We’re doing a Lightbox-Along in March, and this month, I’m also providing some photo tips. Previously on CROQ (read in the “LOST” narrator voice!):

(photo by Amy at the Red Chair Blog)

And now, let’s talk about what happens when you don’t have a good photo of your own to use in your blog. This can happen if you are just writing an article with no particular project associated with it, or maybe if you forgot to take photos when you were doing your project. There are some common courtesies you should follow when using other people’s photos.

On Dollar Store Crafts, I often link to other people’s craft projects. I usually post one of their photos along with a short synopsis of the project and a prominent link to the original project. Here are some rules I abide by when using other people’s photos.

(photo by Alexa Westerfield, Swell Designer)

1. Don’t hotlink

Hotlinking is when you point to another site as the source for your image. It’s not nice to leech other people’s resources for your blog. Download the photo from the host site and then upload it to your site to include it in your post, but before you do:

2. Check for photo rules

Blog owners often have rules regarding using their photos somewhere on their blog (usually on the front page). Some will say things like “feel free to use a photo if you use a link back to the original post” or maybe “please don’t use my photos without permission.” You need to follow any rules set out by the photo’s owner.

Check to see if the photo is available for general use. At flickr, you will see photo rules in the column on the lower right side of the photo. If you see “Some rights reserved” you can probably use the photo on your blog without contacting the owner before you post it. You should still let them know you are using it and leave a link to the post where you’re using it, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. If you want to use it on materials that you’ll be selling, you definitely need to get firm permission before using the photo.

(photo by Nikki at Salty Pineapple)

3. Ask for permission

When in doubt, ask for permission before you use a photo. Photographers will almost never refuse your kind request to use their photo on your blog!

4. Leave a comment

Even if the photographer doesn’t require you to contact them before you use their photo, you should leave a comment. It’s probably the only payment they’ll receive, so leaving a nice comment is the least you can do! Information you should include in your comment: where you used it (with a permalink to the post where it’s used), and a nice compliment is optional, but friendly!

(photo from Cover a Composition Book Tutorial by Sister Diane at Craftypod)

5. Give credit and a link

Give credit to the original photographer (by name, if possible) with a link to the original place where you found the photo. Bonus points for also linking to the photographer’s blog (if you found it on flickr, for instance). Link love is always appreciated. You can put your credit below the photo (even in a smaller font is fine), or at the end of the post.

6. Don’t post ALL their photos

If you use another person’s images, restrain yourself. Choose one (or two) to illustrate your point, and refer the reader to the photographer’s site if you want them to see more. If you want to stretch the images into more, crop your favorite details from the same photo and use the detail photos in multiple places in your post. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t just copy someone else’s work for your blog. That’s boring and lazy.

(Still Life: Vintage Enamelware Kettle by Wendy at Momsational)

Additional Resources:


  • Flickr is a community photo-sharing site. My favorite trick is to do an advanced search of my contacts’ photos for the photo subject I need. That way, I spread the love to people I already know, if possible.
  • Stock.xchng is a free stock photo site where you can download photos for use in print or on the web. If you use one of these photos, it’s nice to leave a comment with a link to your blog, since these photographers are providing their images for free. (I have even sent print samples to photographers when I used their photos in graphic design projects, just because it’s so fun to see your work in print.)
  • DeviantART: you can often find good illustrations or photos to accompany your posts here. Remember to check for permissions to make sure it’s okay to use an image before you use it.
  • Find free vector illustrations at Vecteezy.

About Croq

CROQ Zine is a print zine devoted to hip crafting and indie business. Our first issue went to print in Summer 2005.
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