Once upon a time, writers worried solely about getting the words right. The “paperwork” Peter De Vries decried involved only rearranging those words on paper until they told the story in a compelling way.
Other people – the production staff or freelance photographers – took over and added any photos to the article, brochure, or book layout. And often those graphic elements were a minor add-on to the text.
Those days are no more.
First, images – from photos to clip art to infographics – have taken over the Web real estate. Images lead to more views, more clicks, more sales.
Plus, editors today expect freelance writers to at least suggest images for your articles – sometimes even to provide them. You also need images for your own Facebook pages, blog posts, Pinterest boards, and on and on. Like it or not, images are as important to writers today as words are.
That said, images present several challenges – and concerns . . .
Where to find images
Any number of sites offer free images – here are two pages with links to dozens of free image sources:
Get ready to spend some time looking – I have invested literally hours searching for a single usable “free” blog image.
Free images for our members
If you’re a Writers-Editors Network member, you have access to hundreds of images you can use in your own or your clients’ work. We purchased the rights for our members and I’ve been uploading them to the WEN Resource + Training Center this past month. They should all be up there within the next week or two. The 162 topic categories range from advertising to medicine to yoga – around 2,000 images in all. (If you do not yet have your permissions for the Center, email me and ask me to set you up.)
Or you can pay for rights to images and graphics through a stock agency …
… which has its benefits. I have found that licensing rights to images usually saves some search time, and often brings a higher quality photo, as explained in by BudgetStockPhoto.com:
“In terms of free when referring to stock photography, the word invariably refers to your not having to pay for the image. That said, there are often some hoops to jump through when using free stock images: they might need an attribution (i.e. a credit/link) where you use the images. They might only be available free of charge for non-commercial or non-profit use. In many cases you need to register (for free) on a website to download the full resolution version of the image. Clearly all of these free websites support themselves in one way or another – this is usually in the form of promotional messages or advertising. Some good work can be found on free sites, but clearly it’s more likely that you will find quality images on a paid site even if only at a cost of a few dollars.”
For starters, here is a comparison of some of the larger stock photo sites:
But while shopping around, take a close look at the new kid on the block:
Images for Impact
When our own FFWA member Jackie Lynn faced the challenge of finding, verifying, and using images for her clients and her own needs, she turned to her husband and business partner, Jerry D. Clement, an award-winning photographer. As the image collection grew in size and usability, Jackie knew the images would be useful to other writers – especially if she added helpful instructions. Thus was born “Images for Impact” under their Faith Works brand.
Recently launched, Images for Impact offers collections of high-quality photographs that are organized by category and delivered in a format that lets you quickly and easily customize your message, logo and other information, using presentation software (such as PowerPoint and Open Office) that you probably already have on your computer.
Their website, where you can learn more, is at http://danasuggests.info/FWimages
The image for this post came from their Impact Collection 1. Each collection contains anywhere from 80 to 130 variations of 50 to 80 original images in five different themes (categories). The categories in this Collection included Backgrounds, Birds & Animals, Electronic Devices, Fountains, and Windows. Other collections to date include Bridges, Flowers, Sunrises & Sunsets, Wine, Doors, Money, Sky, and more.
To facilitate the addition of quotes or original text, which help images go viral and shared on Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media, The Images for Impact collections include a number of images with “quote area” such as this butterfly (which comes in three colors).
But do you have the rights to use these images in the ways you intend?
Read through it, as you want to be assured that you do, indeed, have the rights for your intended use, as outlined in their rights statement.
Not sure who owns the rights to an image you’ve found? You might try using the following free tool to see where else an image appears in order to attempt to trace its ownership and rights availability –
Reverse Image Search
(a Copyscape for images)
One advantage of using an image source such as Images for Impact – Because you know the original source, you can feel secure that you do have the rights as stated – you won’t have to worry that months from now you may receive a copyright infringement notice.
Another advantage: They are new, so the images will be distributed among a smaller universe than those on major image-sharing sites – thus, your visitors and readers will not likely think they’ve “already read this” because the image is so familiar.
Working with images
Graphically-challenged as I am, I have rarely done much to edit any photos. I have used Gimp (a free sort-of substitute for Photoshop) and SnagIt a few times – but not often enough to know what I’m doing.
I do use a free online service, PicMonkey, to resize photos – and highly recommend it.
So when I learned that Images for Impact arrived inside PowerPoint, I was surprised. And not having used PowerPoint (or any other presentation software, for that matter), my first thought was, “Uh-oh; now what do I do? How in the world do I get those images to turn into jpegs so I can use them?”
In fact, I asked Jackie, “Why do you have them inside PowerPoint?”
Her reply: “It’s for the easier customization. No need to PhotoShop or any of those complicated image editing files. I’m soooo into simple …”
Fortunately for me, in addition to the images, each package includes a PDF e-book that goes into detail about how to create custom images with PowerPoint, a two-page set of instructions, and a link to tutorial videos.
I forgot about the tutorials at first, but was moving along nicely by simply asking Google my questions. Then I remembered Jackie’s video tutorials – perfect. I could have saved myself some time and re-dos. I was able to follow along nicely, stopping the video as I did a step, then moving on to the next. Another new thing learned. Lovin’ it!
(The instructions that come with each Images for Impact Collection also tell how to name your images so search engines and people can connect the images to you and quickly identify the image content, thus helping with search engine ranking. Very helpful.)