August 7, 2012

Fear and the Image: What's a Blogger to Do?

I'm afraid, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Thanks to a recent blog post from Roni Loren, Best-selling Author, I am terrified to use images on my blog. Every blogger should read Roni's post and be aware of the potential hell involved with using images from the Internet.

Blog posts without pictures are like a newspaper without pictures. Line after line of text is not compelling. Just like a book cover, I often pick a post to read based on an eye-catching image. I simply have too many blogs I follow and not enough reading time.

In addition to this blog, I have a book review blog, Mom in Love with Fiction. Should I not use pictures of author's books from the Internet? I feel like I'm doing authors a service by reviewing their books (free publicity). Should I not use the book image only when it's a bad review? My fear is that is the time the author would have a problem with it.

For my posts here, I often use the site, Public Domain Pictures. But let's be honest, it doesn't have the greatest royalty free pictures. Other times, I get creative and use my own pictures. Case in point, the picture to the right represented my family's ongoing battle with Strep (yes, it is a bit disturbing!). I am by no means a photographer, and I use most of my creativity to write the posts. Now I feel like I need to take a photography class. And Lord knows you don't want me to draw. I have trouble with stick figures.

So what's a blogger to do?

Do I go back through all my posts and delete questionable pictures? I barely have time to move forward in life, much less go back to fix things!

One thing I know for sure... going forward, I will either

* Take my own pictures (I apologize in advance)
* Use pictures as appropriate from Wikipedia (research a topic and click on the picture Wikipedia uses, it will show you the license agreement. Most of the ones they use have a creative commons designation.)
* Use Public Domain Pictures

The talented Juliana Haygert, and a fellow ROW80 participant, wrote an excellent post recently about this topic and listed some Pinterest sites that feature creative commons images. Check out her post here. I'm now following all the boards Juliana recommended. I also found a wonderful site, Inky Girl, with fun writer graphics and cartoons by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (as well as other great information). From her blog...
My Inkygirl comics for writers by Debbie Ridpath Ohi are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License with the following conditions: You're free to copy and reuse my writing-related comic (non-commercially) for your writing-related blog as long as you tell people where it came from. BUT please keeping reading... You don't need my permission to post these comics on your website as long as you include a link back to this permissions page. A text credit would also be very much appreciated, such as "Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl."

No problem. I'm happy to credit her pieces. I used one in a recent blog post, Stages of Writing. It was perfect for my topic and added value to the post.

Oh, and don't assume because people share images on Pinterest that you can share them. I've heard some horror stories about that as well.

For awhile, I used Dreamstime with some success. Unfortunately, they cut you off after you've downloaded so many royalty-free images and you are back to paying. And it's unclear sometimes which images can be used on blogs and which can't. I did have one photographer send me a note to take down an image used incorrectly. I explained that I was confused and even wrote to customer service at Dreamstime. I'm still confused. And, quite frankly, I can't afford to pay for images on a blog. Maybe some day...

Where do you go for images? How concerned are you with being sued for making a mistake and using an image incorrectly?


Jo Michaels said...

MOST photographers won't care as long as you aren't trying to sell their work or pass it off as your own. I'm part of a HUGE community of professional photographers and this is a hot topic for all of them because of theft for profit. I had an image of my daughter stolen and the woman claimed she took it and edited it. I got it taken down but it was a PITA. I never SUED her. Geeze. MOST photographers find it flattering that you want to use their work as an added VISUAL for your blog or desktop. However, despite all that, I KNOW there are some real pieces of work out there who hold themselves to a higher plane of existence than the rest of the measly human race. Meh. They're the RARE exceptions. I only use my own photos and those provided by the authors I interview because I have that skill-set. If I didn't, I would certainly seek other avenues.

You give some good information here and if there's a rogue group of photographers who've discovered an easy way to make money, bloggers beware.

Book cover images should be a public domain item because you aren't passing them off as your own work AND they are sold to you. When you buy a book in the store and have a book jacket, you can do whatever you please with it as long as that doesn't entail reproducing it and selling it for profit, right? Same idea. I don't see why digital books would work any differently.

A photograph, like any work of art (yes, even a book or short story), is copyrighted upon creation unless explicitly stated otherwise; like in the case of inkygirl. That's why those photographers were able to exercise their strong arms.

If you reallllly don't want to take your own photos, but want pictures to enhance your posts, go to this site: and browse. If you find something you like and desire to use it, it's VERY easy to contact the photographer that took it and ask. Just explain what you're doing with it. 9.9 out of 10 will give you a head nod and tell you it's fine.

Just my two cents. Sorry this got long, it's something I know a LOT about.


bookworm said...

Thank you, Jo. And, Tia, thank you also. Answering your question, I only use my own photographs. And although I try to be careful when pinning, I know that at least a couple of my images were taken from my boards and pinned on - shall we say - questionable boards. said...

Tia, I share your concern about using images from the web. After exploring alternatives, I do 3 things: I take my own photos, I use photos from friends who contribute photos for my books and related writings, and I use . Jo, thanks for all your thoughts on this! said...

Tia, btw, why is your blog called "Depression Cookies"? Thanks!

Julie Glover said...

I will be going back through all of my past posts and checking my photos. It's easy to land on someone's past post when running a search engine query. But I'm going to make a goal of getting through a certain number of posts each week, and it will take a while.

Thanks to Jo for the info! I also think book covers, movie posters and still shots, and other ads are usable. I need to double-check.

Best wishes resolving the issue, Tia.

Unknown said...

OMG! More stuff to check?! My head may explode - not my best look. Then again, it may be an improvement today... Thanx for the scoop, sistas!

Callie Leuck said...

I've been using more of my own images since last October, when I took a Nikon photography class. I'm somewhat of an amateur photographer, and the blog gives me a nice reason to practice my photog skills.

So luckily I was pretty OK with the images. I took a few down, just in case, although I really don't think Disney would get worked up over screenshots. (But who knows?)

I've also taken the opportunity to play around in MS Paint again, something I've always enjoyed doing. I've updated a few older posts that are still getting hits with some new artwork, and I'll probably be adding Paint images to new posts going forward (see my current post), in addition to the photography.

I didn't realize Debbie had her art under a Creative Commons license. That's awesome; she's so nice.

Tia Bach said...

Jo, Thanks for the wonderful insight. You give me hope!

Alana, I've heard that. I'm very careful on Pinterest.

Kebba, Thanks so much for stopping by. I will definitely visit

(Depression Cookies is the name of the book I wrote with my mom. It's a coming of age story where each of us wrote a perspective. I wrote the teenage daughter's POV while my mom wrote the mom character's POV).

Julie, I like your plan. I will be doing it slowly, too.

Sandi, It's always something, right? ;-)

Callie, Debbie's stuff is great. I might just have to take up some photography!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by!