"How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." -Psalm 104:24
Churches Need Images
Whether you have a church blog, website, newsletter, facebook page, or you are just looking to make a flyer or brochure, good pictures are a necessity. We have listed some resources below for finding quality pictures for church.
1. Pictures with people are harder to find, especially you you want them for free. Pictures of objects or scenes are more widely available. (By the way: the reason for this makes sense. Pictures with people are harder to take and often involve paid actors.)
2. You really should not simply "take" pictures from other websites or from Google image search, especially if you are using the pictures on your website or in print.
3. Sometimes you get what you pay for. For that "signature" picture, the perfect shot may be worth spending a few bucks on.
Eight Sources for Images
Now without further comment, here are eight suggestions for where to find pictures.
1. Microsoft Clipart
This is an obvious one, but often overlooked. If you are working in Microsoft Word or Publisher, go to insert and click "clipart." Depending on what version you have, you will find a surprisingly decent collection of images, including photos. These are all free to use. Well actually... you already paid for them.
2. Unsplash unsplash.com
This site is a bit "random." It is not the largest collection, and not churchy. However, the pictures are extremely high quality and very large. And they are totally free. Unsplash finally installed a "search" feature so that you can find pictures using key words.
3. Pixabay pixabay.com
This site is also completely free. There is a search function which instantly pulls up shots that match your key words. Notice that the images that show up on top are actually linked advertisements for pictures that you need to pay for. Tricky, right? But below that first line, you will see the free images. This is the site I use the most.
4. Getty Images www.gettyimages.com
Here is the deal with Getty. They sell pictures, and you pay for them on a sliding scale. So if you are not using them for wide distribution, you can usually get the lowest price.
What about FREE Getty images? Yes! Getty announced that many of their pictures will be free to use for online venues likes blogs. They have created a way to "embed" the image, and it will carry the proper Getty copyright. When you get to an image you like, look for the "embed" icon. It will provide you with the code which you paste into your blog post. It is exactly the same process as embedding a youtube video, if you have ever done that. (The picture at the bottom of this post is "embedded.")
5. Churchart www.churchart.com
This one is a pay site. You pay a subscription, and you can use as much as you want. This site has clipart, graphics, backgrounds, and recently, lots of photos. In order to browse around, you'll need to sign up for the free trial. But I can tell you that we used this site at my previous parish setting, and we loved it.
6. Free Images www.freeimages.com
Ok, back to another free site. All of these shots are free, and there is a nice search feature. Again, notice that the top line of photos will be ads, so look below. As you click on each picture, there may be slightly different usage information. In some cases, you are required to credit the owner of the picture. You can still use it for free, as long as you give the credit.
7. Share Faith www.sharefaith.com
This site may have more than most folks need. For example, they offer hundreds of beautiful video loops which can be used for worship backgrounds on projection screens. However, they also have lots of photos, images, and even pre-made flyers that are designed with a contemporary edge. This is a pay site, and you pay a subscription in order to download as much as you want.
8. Your own pictures!
This is not what anyone wants to hear, because usually we need photos NOW. However... high quality pictures of your church, and your folks will always be more powerful and meaningful than anything you can find online.
Seek out a photographer (or someone with a decent camera) in your congregation who can commit to one weekend. Pick a busy weekend with lots going on at the church, and tell your photographer to take pictures of everything.
Make up a list of hard to find shots, such as the following:
• Intergenerational worship shot with a child and matriarch/patriarch figure
• Teens together (without their parents)
• Closeup of a church bulletin with the church name on it
• Person dropping an envelope into the collection basket
• Greeter welcoming a someone at the door
• Two or three people talking, preferably without food/drink in hand
• Someone praying
• An image of pastoral care
These shots will pay off over and over again down the line!
The photo below is an example of an image that has been "embedded" from Getty images:
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