By Aaron Earls
Everything is ready for your website—except you need the perfect image to capture readers’ attention. What do you do?
You may think of going to Google and grabbing the best image you see, but that could get you and your church into some legal trouble.
Copyright laws apply to photographs you find online, so you can’t use anything and everything you see in an image search.
Here are some tips for finding the right image for your website.
Take it yourself.
One easy way to avoid legal trouble is to simply take the photo yourself.
If you are an artistic person, think of how you want to visually represent the story and take the photo on a digital camera or even your phone.
If you aren’t artistic at all, Google the term and see what types of images come up. Then see if there are some you like that you can recreate similarly.
Ask photographers in your congregation for help.
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable around a camera, but you know someone in your church is always taking pictures. Ask that person for help.
If you want photos for your church website to represent who you are as a church, use actual photos of people in your congregation whenever you can.
When churches use stock photos of smiling faces, it almost always looks fake and causes visitors to wonder what you’re hiding about the actual people in your church.
Ask the amateur photographer in your church to take grab some pictures of people at a worship service or at your next fellowship event.
A non-professional photo of the real people in your church will almost always look better and more inviting to visitors than a professional staged photo of individuals who have never even heard of your congregation.
Use free stock photo sites.
If you want a photo for a blog post by the pastor related to his sermon this past Sunday, visit a free stock photo site.
Several offer high-quality, professional photos that you can use free of charge.
This article at Buffer has 53 different online sources for free images. It is a few years old, so some of the sites may no longer be working or have changed, but it will give you plenty of places from which to choose.
Know what you’re looking for.
The best places for photos are going to depend on what exactly you need.
If you have an idea or topic in mind, those stock photo sites listed above work great. But what if you are writing about a celebrity or politician? Flickr can be an excellent source.
However, some photos on Flickr are not open to free use. After you search for the term or name you want to find, change the settings at the top left corner from “Any License” to “All Creative Commons.”
This will pull up photos you can use, but there still may be some restrictions on how you use them. Once you open the photo you’d like, it may indicate that it has “some rights reserved.”
Click the link to see exactly what qualifications the photographer has placed on the use of the photo. Most of the time, the photographer is merely asking you to give attribution or credit.
Are there any photo sites that you’ve found helpful? What tips do you have for finding that perfect picture?
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AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.