How to Use Licensed Photographs for Free

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s also true that some pictures are worth thousands of dollars. Many bloggers will tell you that it’s a good idea to include a relevant picture with most of your blog posts, but the average blogger cannot afford to pay the expensive royalties for high end photos.

Sure, you could just jump into your favorite search engine and pull out some pictures that way, but you could just as easily run into all sorts of copyright issues should you take that route. Thankfully, there is an equally easy way to get pictures that is 100% legal and 100% free. It’s called PicApp.

Discovering a World of Free Photos

Some of you may already be familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and how it protects the copyright of digital content found online. If you chose to pull and use a protected image from a website without the right permission, you could run into a whole world of legal issues. That’s why PicApp could be a more suitable solution.

How to Use Licensed Photographs for Free

Going through the PicApp library, you will find literally millions of photos at your fingertips. These premium pictures come at no cost to you, thanks to special agreements that PicApp has made with the copyright owners. The pictures come from Corbis, Getty Images, and other similar sources.

By using a picture from PicApp, you agree to the terms and conditions. For example, you must link back to the PicApp site each time.

How Does It Work?

To get a better sense of what PicApp is all about and how it works, watch the brief video overview embedded here.

You can browse through the photo galleries, view the most recent uploads, and so forth. Naturally, you can also perform a search based on your chosen terms. For example, here are the results I got when I searched for a picture of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

How to Use Licensed Photographs for Free

Integration with WordPress Blogs and More

When I click on any individual image, I am provided with more information, like the date and location, as well as the important code options for embedding image in a blog. Here is the pop-up that I got on an image of Roberto Luongo at the poker table.

How to Use Licensed Photographs for Free

The “image code” is regular HTML and should be compatible with most blogging platforms. It also contains a brief snippet of Javascript, search engine optimized tags, and a link back to the image page on PicApp. You can also define your alignment settings and choose from the three available sizes.

Here is a live example of an embedded image using this method. You can also choose to download the new PicApp WordPress plugin for your self-hosted blog.

Sir Ian McKellen And Patrick Stewart Visit Foyles Bookshop

Underneath the standard image code is a special shortcode for blogs. This is a more recent development and it is one that has been highlighted on the official WordPress blog.

One of the key differences is that you get a photo slideshow underneath the embedded image if you use this method instead. This can provide extra value for your readers, since they can view all of the related images from PicApp right from your blog.

An Invaluable Resource for Bloggers

Many bloggers seem to think that they are immune to any copyright infringements. They think that they can get away with using any kind of “borrowed” content that they’d like, but this is just as illegal as software piracy.

If you want to avoid any legal gray areas, the powerful image resource from PicApp seems to be just the ticket. You get access to millions of licensed photos and none of them will cost you a penny. They’re all high quality too, but you are restricted to maximum width of 500 pixels. The WordPress integration, both for and self-hosted blogs, is quite good too.


49 thoughts on “How to Use Licensed Photographs for Free”

  1. Ed Lau says:

    Most images fall under creative commons. The majority of the time, unless you are using images for advertising or otherwise making money directly off them, you can use what you want as long as you give credit.

    1. Kalvster says:

      But under John’s disclosure policy, I guess he can’t. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

      1. Benjamin Cip says:

        I think so, Kalvster

    2. Are you sure, Ed? The Associated Press sued a few bloggers last year for using their images on their personal websites without paying licensing fees.

    3. Wrong! If an image is not declared “Creative commons” by its owner / creator it is not “creative commons”! And commercial use is not restricted to making money directly from images it refers also to using them on a blog / web site that was created, wholly or in parts, to earn money with. I earn a good part of my online income with selling licenses for my own images and I am tired of bloggers and web site owners that just rip them of the internet and don’t pay the license fee! SY

  2. BloggerSpeed says:

    I just knew that there is PicApp. Of course it would give me so much advantage for my blogs since it will save me from hundreds of bucks for every pics cost on my blog. Thanks Johnny:-)

    Greetz, BloggerSpeed,
    โ€œAn Indonesian Underground Blogging and SEO Resourcesโ€

  3. Melvin says:

    good one.. i most of the times just use an image that comes from google search and fortunately haven’t had any problems yet.. but of course its wrong..

    1. Lee Ka Hoong says:

      I’m doing the same thing Melvin. Sometimes I search an image in Flickr too, but I did give credit to the people who shared the photo. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. BloggerSpeed says:

      Have anyone got a penalty from the image copyright owner or the host? I mean the real action of blaming you…

    3. Yes, it wrong! Do you mind if I rip of text / content from your blog and use them on a web site / blog? SY

  4. Steve says:

    I like it quite a bit. I found some photos from an event that happened tonight. I would like to host the images myself to avoid them not being available later.

    1. That is a concern of mine too. There is no insurance policy for that kind of disasterous event, and hosting the images yourself is your safest bet.

  5. Sarge says:

    Very cool image resource! Bookmarked for later. Seems to be a greater range of high quality photos than Flickr photos which I’d been using previously.

    Will definitely give picapp a crack ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Awesome. Thanks for sharing this resource. I always need new images for my website and this should work wonderfully.

  7. Himanshu says:

    Thanks John for telling about this resource, I use Flickr search for creative common images and I give proper backlinks to those images, this service is definitely going to help me a lot.

  8. Kevin says:

    Thank you very much John. I was searching for something like this, and you gave the right thing…thnx…

  9. Tinh says:

    That is what I am really looking for, thanks John

  10. Excellent resource Michael, thanks for posting it here!
    There are hundreds of ways to get legal images for your blog / web site without breaking any laws, either for free or for a few dollar, unfortunately many people still prefer the easy way of ripping them off the internet without thinking about the consequences, i.e. income loss, for the image creator! SY

  11. James M. says:

    Thanks for this resource. At present I have resorted to editing pictures in the belief that it might at least be not a 100% replica of the original. Am I right to assume that an edited picture is no longer within the scope of the copyright law?

    1. Wrong, you need the agreement of the copyright holder of the original images, just editing (cropping, changing colors etc) it, is not enough. Only if you create a new image (via editing) that is so different from the original image that nobody recognizes it as a product thereof could you claim your own copyright for it. But even that is not a 100% waterproof solution, so either make your own images or get images that are licensed to be used for free / against backlink or spend a couple of dollars to buy an image license, professional images are not expensive anymore! SY

  12. Great source for legal picture. It is surely help many blogger to avoid problem.

  13. great source thanks a lot John, this is definitely gonna give me a great source of pics. I used to use only Flickr and Photobucket all these days.
    My latest post <a href=""Building an online business empire

  14. Jay says:

    Good call. In a similar vein, the folks at have a plugin for wordpress that allows you to embed their licensed stock artwork (photo and vector) in your blog without fee. I don’t know how picapp does with including such licensed artwork, but at least here’s another option. And you don’t have to worry about either the source art disappearing or the quality ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope this helps

  15. Dean Saliba says:

    I’ve been guilty of looking at Google Images in the past. I’ll certianly check this out. Thanks.

  16. Well if you are a small blogger than you can hide yourself even by using copyright photos. But when you become famous and maximum people will come to know about your blog than you SHOULD NOT use such practice.

  17. I’ve tried using the common images in Flickr and had a really hard time finding anything worth using. I’m sure some of that is because I just don’t know how to use it very well.

    This site looks like a much better alternative. I can’t wait to start having premium images.

  18. Looks good, but I don’t know if I like having to link to the site every time I use one of their images.

    1. That is the price you pay, that or a few dollars for a proper image license ๐Ÿ˜‰ SY

      1. There are plenty of places to get free images without having to link back to someone.

  19. Becky Fox says:

    Awesome! I’ve been trying to find more free pictures for my Knoxville Weight Loss blog. This is excellent. Thank you!

  20. Alvin Tatum says:

    This is good to know. I’m sure no one wants someone blaming them for using their photo. Thanks.

  21. Kevin Pasco says:

    John you may have just became my new best friend. This is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for my blog.

  22. This is tool is indeed v. valuable for bloggers. You’ll be increasing picapp’s no. of back links but it’s worth it if it increases your reader’s stay on the blog.

  23. debrafrieden says:

    A legitimate resource for imagery which does not infringe on the rights of photographers or owners of material is a positive tool for bloggers. I support any tool that provides a non infringement of copyright or violations of the DMCA.

    1. Look also into Crestocks wordpress plugin, it even earns you aff-commision ๐Ÿ˜‰ SY

  24. This sounds great. I was always struggling with finding the right photo for my posts.

    I will give this service a whirl..

  25. Now bloggers do not have to deal with copyright infringements ๐Ÿ™‚ I for one never gave credit back to the pic owners because it takes extra work.


    1. “I for one never gave credit back to the pic owners because it takes extra work.”
      WOW, that is a statement, mind if I visit your blog, take some text and then not even mention you as the source? SY

  26. I use They are an excellent source of royalty free photography as well, and you do not need to link back to them either. They come strongly recopmmended, do go and give them a try, guys!

  27. EarningStep says:

    so this is about image copyright , i can say that this is nice feature to prevent our lovely original image stolen by others

  28. Having photographs for free use is the effective way for bloggers. I always try to look some free photgraphs for using and now this is the fantastic way to use licensed photographs for free.

  29. oes tsetnoc says:

    i think we should respect those people who take the photos. instead of trying to modify the photos and removing their name or whatever, its better to but the photos. Everyone needs to survive.

  30. Laura says:

    Sounds great – but I too am concerned about the fact that the photos would not be on my own server. I posted on PicApp’s blog and am awaiting an answer.

    1. That is a really valid point, for that reason I would go with the crestock plugin, as they sell the images also on higher resolutions, they are really interested to keep the images up! SY

  31. Looks slick.
    High quality photos on a site can mean the difference between an engaged visitor, and a 5 second visit.

  32. oes tsetnoc says:

    i most of the times just use an image that comes from google search and fortunately havenโ€™t had any problems yet

  33. chester says:

    Definitely gives the webpage more vibrancy and professionalism

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