Even though I'm an author who loves the written word, I'll be one of the first to admit that images are often just as powerful--sometimes instantly--through first impressions. That's why I believe images should accompany blog posts, articles, and are instrumental in video book trailers. It's also why YouTube made such a huge splash and isn't showing any signs of slowing down, and Pinterest is emerging as one of the top Social Media sites these days.
However, since many of us aren't professional photographers, and we can't be everywhere catching every possible image, we often have to rely on photos that others have taken. Therefore, we need to make sure we aren't violating any copyright laws by posting our images. If you take a photo, of objects and places then you have ownership of those photos, but if you take photos of people, you will need to get them to sign a permission release form giving you permission to use and publish their photo. If you choose to use stock photos and video, you'll want to make sure it is royalty-free or in the public domain.
Royalty-Free photos are NOT necessarily FREE!
Royalty-Free refers to the right to use copyrighted material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties for each use or per volume sold, each time it is posted or used, or for a specified time period of use or sales.
Public Domain includes works or intellectual property in which the rights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable.
When I need to use stock photos and videos, here are a few places I go:
Wikipedia - They have lots of photos that have been released into the public domain. I often use them for images of other places I cannot personally visit or things I cannot personally obtain.
Stock.xchng - This is my favorite site for still photos! They often have some great images that you won't find anywhere else. Most of them are free, but once in a while, the author will want permission and you have to email them and ask, or they would like you to give them credit in a byline or link back of some sort.
Flickr - This site has some copyrighted material, but you can do an Advanced Search in the Commons section for public domain images and add to them if you want.
Dreamstime - Free photos that are royalty-free.
iStock Photo - If you have to pay for royalty-free images and video, I like this site the best. You can purchase credits as needed and download the files when you need them. I like this site because of the wide variety of selections they provide in both still photos, illustrations, and video clips.
Free Stock Footage - Royalty-free video footage. You may need to install a plugin to view the video feeds.
ShutterStock - Royalty-free video footage as well as motion animations and still photos.
Animation Factory - Provides some great motion animations that are royalty-free, as well as PowerPoint backgrounts.
Pond5 - Royalty-free video, photos and illustrations. Some of the videos are a little pricey, but the still images are $1-$2 ea.
Do you use any sites for images and videos that you would like to share that I haven't listed?