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How to Find Free Legal Photos and Images

There is an outstanding article at Christianity Today's entitled:

The Copyright Blues
How to make sure your church isn't in the wrong when it comes to copyright

Wallace warns us against using photos that aren't ours to use.  Why?  Because photographers get paid for these photos and if you use them without paying, you are stealing.  Ouch.  But you knew that already . . . but just chose to ignore it. 

In fairness to you (and me) some photographers have the philosophy that any publicity they get is good for them.  Others are even more gracious (or stupid financially) and "just want their photos to be used for the glory of God."  So what do you do? 

Well, there are at least four things you can do.  I will give you examples of how I have done this.  See Wallace's article for many more practical hints of free ways to do things!  It is very helpful.       

  1. You can use some free photo sites like Stock.XCHNG.  See the energetic discussion at Church Marketing Sucks to a post called Stock Photography Sucks.  Most people commenting think stock photography is the way to go.  
  2. You can buy CD's with photos like Emergent/YS Worship Image Gallery of 700 Images from 2003. 
  3. You can take your own photos.  I posted one on Taylor University's Wikipedia page.  (At Wikipedia, you have to have taken it yourself or it has to be proven to be in the public domain for it to be posted).  You can also do your own art!
  4. You can ask permission.  I have done this with Taylor University photographer Jim Garringer.  Check out his photos of the great social justice leader John Perkins from last month at Jim's site.  You may win some friends.  The artist may think, "Finally someone appreciates me!" and you do! 

I know you didn't want to be reminded that using all of those photos was illegal.  But make the positive decision to: check out some legal free options, take some photos yourself, hug your favorite photographer, learn PhotoShop or some other artistic thing, and open your wallet.  The results? Artists will get a little richer.  You'll still get great creative stuff.  And you will model for others the right way to do this kind of thing.   

The answer to your question is "Yes, I do need to look through my blog and see if there are illegal photos." 

Grace and peace to you (and me).

Other related subjects:

I have written about video clip usage at Guidelines for Using Movie Clips in a Sermon and How to find movie clips to use in your sermon

I have written about finding song lyrics and music at CCLI's SongSelect - Why Every Church Should Pay $179 and Get It