Monday, November 26, 2012

Pictures Could be Worth a Thousand Fines

By Stacy S. Jensen

Do you use photos on your blog? Yes.

Do you know what happened to Author Roni Loren? If the answer is no, take time to read her post from July: Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog — My Story

Think I’m trying to scare you? Yes, I am.

Loren, a romance writer, shares an expensive lesson about how her random use of photos resulted in a photographer asking her to remove his picture and demand compensation for its use.

This doesn’t mean you have to pay for photos. It means you should have permission to use a photo. Just because a photo pops up after a Google search, doesn’t mean it's free. There are plenty of low-cost or free ways for writers to use photos on his or her blog.

The work around to the “can I use this photo on my blog question:”
  • ·    Take your own photos with a camera phone or a real camera.
  • ·    Create graphics using iPad or Android apps.
  • ·    Ask a friend going on vacation to take pictures and give you permission to publish them on your blog.
  • ·    Visit free or low fee sites for stock images. Writer August McLaughlin shared a list of sites to search for photos in her post Blog Images Made Easy: Tips From a Non-Graphic Artist 
  • ·    Use word clouds to create a graphic.

I’ve seen some bloggers use a specific style of photo with blog posts like pictures of children, flowers or dogs, instead of finding a photo to convey a specific blog post message. Others sort through stock photo resources for the “just right” photo to go with a blog post. Be sure to read the fine print for agencies on how you can use and alter the photo for your publication.

Flower drawn in the Art Rage app for the iPad. Special tools needed — the app, a finger, an iPad and iPhoto to crop the image.

I’m somewhere in the middle in my blog photo search.  My first choice is to use my own photos. Then, there’s no question about who owns them.

I’m too disorganized to use stock photo sites most days, due to the time involved to search for photos or my inability to remember passwords for multiple sites.

During the A-to-Z Challenge in April, I found myself desperate for a picture of an elevator. I didn’t like the options a stock agency had, so I asked my brother-in-law in another state to snap a picture for me at his office. He did. In less than an hour, a photo arrived in my inbox and was ready for a blog post.

When my sister traveled overseas, I asked her to take random photos to use on my blog. When I use her pictures, I give her credit.

Credit doesn’t make it okay to use a photo. You need permission to use a photo or DO NOT use it.

I enjoy how photos enhance blog posts and add to the message a blogger is sharing. Of course, I’d rather see a blank spot than read that my favorite blogger was sued for using a photo without permission.

Where do you get photos for your blog posts?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler.
Blog: Twitter: @StacySJensen