This post was last updated on December 5th, 2019 at 02:27 pm.
Free photos are not that hard to find, and they can really give your church website a refreshing lift. Research shows including visual content (e.g. photos, graphics, and videos) on your church’s website and social media pages is more effective than text alone. Visuals attract more people, increase sharing, and communicate your message in a way that’s easier for people to remember. But where do you get all these pictures?
Hiring a photographer to do a custom photo shoot is ideal. However, due to budget and time limits, that’s not always feasible, especially for smaller nonprofits and churches with limited resources. If you’re lucky, you have a friend or church member with a fancy camera (or even a smart phone!) and editing skills who’s willing to volunteer their talents.
No such luck? Free photos to the rescue!
Although this option is cheaper than hiring a photographer, the cost can still add up quickly. Each photo can cost anywhere from $5 to $20. Not to mention some stock photos are just plain cheesy. And yes, you can get sued for copyright violation if you use any old picture you find in a Google search, so don’t even think about it.
What’s the secret?
Free photos. Free stock images. Yes, you read that correctly. These are pictures that the photographer has agreed to let others use for free via a Creative Commons license. Remember to pay attention to whether these free photos can be used for commercial use and whether the photographer requires attribution.
Free stock images for your church website
These are my favorite sites for finding free photos and stock images. I included a photo from each so you can see examples. Not all the photos on these sites require attribution, though it’s nice to credit the photographer if you can. The search term I used was “puppy”. Because who couldn’t use more cute puppy pictures in their life?
Compfight is my go-to for finding Creative Commons images. Essentially, it’s a search engine for flickr, so there are tons of photos available. My favorite part is the “Copy & Paste HTML” section which makes it super easy to credit the photographers behind your free photos.
Foter has a decent selection of photos, it also has handy copy and paste code for giving the photographer proper credit.
Pixabay does require you to sign up for a free account. In addition to free photos, this site also has vectors, illustrations, and videos.
Unsplash has a large selection of really high quality free photos. I learned about this one fairly recently and am looking forward to trying it out.
Lightstock is NOT a free site, but if you create an account — it’s free to sign up — you can download their free photo and vector of the week, and also their free video clip of the month. Plus, if you do pay for a subscription, you get access to even more free downloads. I like this site because it’s specifically geared towards the faith-based community.
Here’s Lightstock’s free photo and graphic for this week.
Where do you get photos for your church’s website and social media pages? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!