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10. Using photo-sharing resources

After text, creating and using stills is the most common technique to illustrate news. There are many resources available online, but only some are free for use… and they’re not necessarily free.

Finding a picture on sharing platforms

There are many sharing platform, the most famous ones being: FlickR, PicasaWeb, Photobucket, Zooomr, Fotolia… Some of them offer free pictures you can use, other require payment. As our job depends on selling information, it’s only fair we should respect copyright laws defining pictures commercialization. Don’t steal pictures from their owners – they’ll always find you in the end and they’ll rightly ask you to explain yourself. Besides if you’re lacking in money, there are many free for use high-quality photos.

Creative Commons

Let’s consider FlickR, one of the sharing platforms nourished by web users who choose to upload their production under the Creative Commons license. This license comes in six types, from complete free use providing you credit the author to restricted paying use disallowing photo editing.

Besides this system, copyrights laws are used in most of the world: the author of the photo must grant you permission to use it, for a limited time and in limited places, and you must pay him.

Let’s get back to Creative Commons. On FlickR, the “Explore” tab offers a “Creative Commons” option. By clicking it you’ll gain access to millions of pictures licensed under CC. By browsing the first category (Attribution 2.0 Generic, or CCby-2.0), you are sure to be able to use AND edit the pictures you spot.

Picture editing

After making sure you can edit the picture you’ve chosen, you may use editing software to make the photo fit with your content. Either your computer already comes with such software, or you can get Paint.net or GIMP from the Internet (they’re free).

GIMP is certainly the most complete. It allows you to resize your pictures: large pictures will take more time to load. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. In the “Image” tab, choose “Scale image”
  2. Modify width and/or height (the image will be automatically resized and keep its proportions)
  3. Once you’ve chosen the size, click on “Scale” to see the result, then save your picture (File)

FYI regular screen size is 320 pixels for a mobile photo, 1024 pixels for a laptop, 1440 for a widescreen computer. On the Internet, good width is between 600 and 800 pixels.