Finding Beautiful, Legal, and Free, Images

Awhile back I went to a This American Life live event. This American Life, of course, being the popular radio show and podcast that takes a theme and brings you thought on that theme. It seemed an odd thing to go to a live event of a radio show. One of the highlights of the night was when we watched an animated version of a story. Instead of simply having someone stand up and share his story, the producers teamed up animators with the storyteller.

The result was a fun, simple way to hear the story that made me curious to watch and hear more. Afterward, I found myself retelling the story to a bunch of people over and over again partly because it was so cool - the animation and the story combined - partly because the story was so funny and I could remember it. 

It turns out, that was a smart idea on the producer’s part. 

When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of it a few days later. But, if you pair a relevant image with the same information, people will remember 65% of the information three days later. (Thanks, John Medina of Brain Rules!) 

That’s a very compelling reason to include something visual in all of your posts on social media.

But here’s the thing, legally, you can’t just do a Google Search for a picture and then put it up on social media. That’s doing a disservice to the photographer who created it, the subject who's in it, and breaks a whole bunch of laws. So there are three ways to get images to go with your blog content, tweets, or social media posts.

Go out and take a picture.

 Find something compelling and take a picture of it. You always have a camera on your phone, so this is always available to you.

Conduct an advanced Google Search. 


  • Type in the search phrase

    • Choose “Images"

    • Choose “Advanced Settings"

    • Under “usage rights” Choose the option “free to use, share or modify, even commercially

    • then download the image you’d like to use

  • Go to a free stock image site.  

My favorite is Bonus! Unsplash just put out a mobile app which is so helpful when you need images on the go! You’ll find gorgeous photos by generous photographers who will allow you to do whatever you like with their images. Here is a gallery of images i've used in the past from Unsplash.

In a few minutes you'll have gorgeous photos that are completely legal and free to use to make your social media images have a professional edge to them. 

Make Some Posts With Great Images

Go out and make a post with a great image! Use #Downstagemedia so we can find and comment on it!