Charity images - find FREE photos for your website

by Andy Pearson in February 2nd, 2021

Every charity website needs photos to help illustrate content, provide meaning and create a connection with the audience.

In this post, we share our favourite 8 sites for getting free photos and offer guidance on how to use them to best effect on your website.


Where to get free photos

The CC0 1.0 licence means the images are dedicated to the public domain and the creator has waived all legal rights to the work. There is no need to make any sort of attribution when using these images.

Unsplash

  • Crowd-sourced professional quality images from a growing community

Pexels

  • Multiple photographers
  • Simple & slick interface

Life of Pix

  • Multiple photographers
  • Search images by content type

Fancy crave

  • Well categorised and tagged
  • Downloadable content type photo packs
  • 2 new images a day

Gratisography

  • Well categorised
  • Wide selection of content

Wikimedia

  • 25 million free media resources
  • Different images have different restrictions
  • Most allow you to use images without getting permission

Foter

  • 190 million free Creative Commons images from many various online sources
  • Different attributions


Creating Impact with Images

Images will have a big impact on your communications one way or another. Use these tips to help ensure your charity photography is working well and having a positive effect rather than becoming a distraction.

Chose images that communicate a message

Images attract attention but if they are not well aligned with your message they can be a distraction.

Before using an image ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the main point of your content in a single sentence?
  • What is the most interesting nugget in your content?
  • How do you want the viewer to feel when reading your content?
  • Would this article be best illustrated with a photo, diagram or illustration?
  • Would it be that bad if you just didn’t have an image?

Maintain your brand identity

Always check your brand guidelines to make sure you’re not stepping too far off-piste. If you don’t have clear advice on image selection in your brand guidelines firstly, consider writing some. Secondly, just run a sense check on the nature of the image against your organisation’s mission statement, core values and other written guidelines.

  • Is your brand colourful and playful?
  • Do you normally use hard-hitting, moody imagery?
  • Do you prefer images with people, landscapes, concepts etc.?
  • Do you have an illustration style for diagrams and suchlike?

Use editing software

It’s good to get into the habit of editing images to keep them consistent and make them your own, but be careful not to overdo it. Stick to the basics! Here are a few reasons to edit images.

  • Keep your visuals on brand
  • Make space for overlaid copy
  • Adjust colour hue to suit your style or the point you want to make
  • Focus attention on a particular part of the image
  • Add impact with a dramatic crop
  • Add annotations
  • Optimise image size and format for the web

There is a lot you can achieve with free image editing tools, some of which come as standard with your computer. Simple actions like cropping an image to remove a distracting area or enhance certain colours can make a big difference to storytelling.

Both PC’s and Mac’s have basic photo editing applications built in. Here are a few resources for how to get the most out of them.

If you want a little more flexibility and control then here are a few more options.


Best photo editing tools

Gimp

  • Widely used
  • Cross-platform
  • Open source.
  • Been around for over 20 years.
  • Free

Photoshop.com

  • Simplified version of PS available to use online.
  • Free

Canva

  • Super simple
  • Lots of free options for the basics

Fotor

  • Has a special feature for creating Social media cover images
  • Mobile companion app.
  • Free

Pixelmator

  • A powerful image editor with painting, layers, masking and other advanced features.
  • ~£10


Optimise Images for the Web

Here is a quick 4 step checklist to follow when adding images to your website.

Get the proportions right

Some image fields on your website or social media channels may crop your image to predefined proportions in order to display the image neatly with respect to the other elements on the page. Knowing these proportions will ensure your image is not cropped when uploading it.

image proportions
Get the format right

The three most common image file formats are PNG, JPG and GIF. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one will depend on the content and size of your image. 9 times out of 10 JPG will work well but it’s worth knowing about the others too.

[Add image table]

Get the file size right

Modern cameras create huge photos. Despite improving internet speeds and higher definition screens there is still no excuse for serving unnecessarily large images on your website as they are the major cause of slow page load times.

Dimensions, format and image quality combine to make up the file size (in KBs or MBs) of the image. You can’t have everything so you need to balance these.

Most of the images on your website should look fine with these attributes:

  • Dimensions: < 600px wide
  • Format: JPG
  • Image quality: < 60%
  • This should result in a file size of < 100Kb, that’s good.

Full-width banner images might need to be nearer 1200px wide but even these shouldn’t exceed 200-300Kb.

Give images good titles

When saving out your images, consider the title carefully. Think about what describes the image in the context of the content and the website. This information can then be copied into the alt text field when uploading the image onto your site.

Alt text on images can improve your SEO and website accessibility. Get into the habit of always adding alt text to images when uploading online. This can be found in the image details section of the upload modal box.

Google uses this information when viewing your site images, and if for some reason your images don’t appear (e.g. low bandwidth), this title will appear next to the broken image icon. It is also used to explain images to visually impaired readers who are using a screen reader. Depending on the browser, some image titles or alt text fields may also appear as you hover over an image.