Where can I find photos for my blog or website?

You’ve crafted your blog post and now your need to illustrate it. “Where can I find a photo for my blog?” your wonder. Well, one solution is the plethora of stock photo sites out there but then you run the risk of your blog looking like everyone else’s.

I mean, how many times do you go to websites and see the same vacuous images of hip young office workers, clustered around a Mac on a conference table in a light, bright, conference room? Everyone’s smiling and they’re solving world hunger (or more likely making world hunger worse).

We’ve all seen those images yet many of us wonder at the incongruity having been in those office buildings where the reality is dark spaces with artificial light and an older, greyer collection of people staring in abject boredom at a meaningless PowerPoint presentation.

So stock agencies give you plenty of often technically well executed images but lots of people use them and they’re becoming obvious to readers who inevitably start to question whether the article or blog is also ‘stock’.

A better approach to unique photos for your blog

Another, and I think better, approach is to reach out directly to photographers and ask permission to use their images.

Now photographers are creative people and they also have bills to pay but many, including myself, license at least some of our images under a creative commons license.

I personally use a CC BY-NC license. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon my work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge me and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

I don’t approve of free images for commercial use – after all, if you need the image in order to make money you should be prepared to pay something for that image. But many bloggers just want an image to illustrate their blog, and are not trying to use the image to sell anything.

Such was the case last week when blogger Adrian Selby reached out to me asking if he could use/purchase a digital image to illustrate a book review on his blog www.adrianselby.com.

Since Adrian wasn’t asking to use the photo for the cover of one of his own books, but to illustrate his review of The Vorrh by Brian Catling, I was more than willing to help Adrian get the image he wanted to use in return for a photo credit.

And it was a simple exchange. Brian essentially said, ‘Hi, I’d like to use one of your images to illustrate a post.’ and I essentially replied, ‘Sure, here it is, please credit me in your post.’

Unique images to illustrate your blog post

So if you’re looking for a unique image to illustrate one of your posts or to use on your website and you find a photo you like on a photographer’s website, send them a note and ask if you can use it. I think most people are just expecting a “No” so they don’t even ask.

While I know many will say “No” I’m confident you’ll find many, like me, who will say “Yes” and you’ll have that unique image that sets you apart.

Of course, it’s best to reach out ahead of your deadline. You’re asking for a favor so give the photog time to respond.

The photo Adrian requested was a shot I took of an abandoned logging railway, cut through a jungle.

We came across the abandoned narrow gauge railway in the Brunei Jungle. I didn

We came across the abandoned narrow gauge railway in the Brunei Jungle. I didn’t walk to the far end but I understand it ended at an abandoned logging camp.

And if you read his review of The Vorrh you’ll understand why he requested this photo.

Want to use one of my photos?

All of the photos my my gallery are available to you under the CC BY-NC license so if you’d like to use one to illustrate your blog post, make a request through my contact form.

Of course, my photos are also available for commercial use, for a fee, so let me know what you’d like to use and how you’d like to use it and let’s see if we can make a deal. Again, just make a connection through my contact form.

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I was playing around with an image I captured of a St. Peter Street balcony in Photoshop (CC 2015.5) today, messing around with some filters when the image went berzerkoid on me. I’m actually intrigued by the way my image was morphed by the software so I decided to keep it and post it here. Below it you’ll find what I was actually trying to get to.

I usually try to compose all my images both vertically and horizontally if I have the time. Far too often I know I’m unlikely to return and, if I do return, the scene is unlikely to be the same. In this digital world, the cost of taking and storing the second composition is negligible so I really don’t see a downside. Often when I’m looking through my pre-digital slide or print collection I find myself lamenting just having the one orientation. I find it limits what I can do creatively with the image.

I captured this scene while strolling through the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, back in June of 2015. The house itself sits on St. Peter Street, about a block from Preservation Hall.

The red umbrella makes a statement in this balcony scene from St. Peter Street in the French Quarter. This abstract was a happy accident in Photoshop.

The red umbrella makes a statement in this balcony scene from St. Peter Street in the French Quarter. This abstract was a happy accident in Photoshop.

Here’s what I was actually aiming for:

The red umbrella makes a statement in this balcony scene from St. Peter Street in the French Quarter

The red umbrella makes a statement in this balcony scene from St. Peter Street in the French Quarter

And here’s a horizontal view of the scene:

The red umbrella makes a statement in this balcony scene from St. Peter Street in the French Quarter

The red umbrella makes a statement in this balcony scene from St. Peter Street in the French Quarter


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Early morning, Cayucos Pier, California. I guess 8:53 am counts as early for a November Saturday morning in this part of the world as there were few people out and about. There was a chill in the air but it was by no means cold.

I recall only one person walking their dog along the beach that morning, and there was no one on the pier at all.

Shortly after taking this image we packed up our gear and headed a few blocks down Ocean Avenue to the Top Dog Coffee Bar for a warming latte and then next door to Pieman Pies for breakfast.

Cayucos Pier in the early morning sunlight.

Cayucos Pier in the early morning sunlight.


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At the time of writing, fire crews are working around the clock battling the Soberanes wildfire to the south-east of Bixby Bridge and slowly approaching Big Sur. I would imagine right now this area is cloaked in smoke.

When I took this image, it was mid-November. Summer fire season – June to September – was over. November falls into Santa Ana fire season – October to April. So in California, especially after the drought of the last several years, fire season lasts all year round! Yet another reason to live in Texas.

Still, we didn’t have to deal with that as the sun set over the Pacific and a chill started to descend from the hills. We stayed a while, using ever lengthening shutter speeds to catch the light trails as cars crossed the famous Bixby Bridge. I was trying to capture starbursts from the headlights but this was the only image from several attempts that was successful.

Bixby Bridge was built in 1932 and remains one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world. Between 1998 and 2000 the bridge was retrofitted to make the bridge more earthquake resistant. Caltrans spend additional money to preserve the historical look of the bridge which I, for one, appreciate.

Before the bridge, there was no coastal highway. Inland the terrain is rugged and there are few roads or trails. The ruggedness of the area is one of its main attractions, but it’s also a major factor in hindering the fire crews from bringing the Soberanes wildfire under control.

Cars approaching Bixby Bridge on California State Highway 1

Cars approaching Bixby Bridge on California State Highway 1

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It’s been a while since I last posted to my blog – busy days and nights.

Earlier today I was scrolling through a Lightroom catalog and this image taken beneath Cayucos Pier, early in the morning last November struck my eye. I decided to process it in Black and White to give the image more of a timeless feel.

In the top of the image you have the pilings marching into the distance while a wave is crashing to the left. But in the center of the foreground, the reflection of the pilings and pier decking are a twisted, chaotic mess, caused by the way the water was pooling in that particular place.

Under Cayucos Pier

Shot taken early in the morning under the pier at Cayucos, CA.

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