When it comes to finding images for our youth ministry media, we all know Google Image Search. We all love Google Image Search (GIS), but when you learn to live by it, you’ll likely die by it, too. The problem with GIS is that everyone uses it. You do a search for “prayer” and find that one picture in the first 25 that might actually work for a youth ministry context and 5,000 other youth pastors do as well.
GIS is an incredibly robust tool, but instead of selectively delivering the creative, quality, unique art that you’re looking for, you have to fade through thousands of possible answers to find the right one. Today, we’d like to share six other image sites that are better than Google. Take a few minutes to explore and bookmark them, you’ll thank us next time you have to find a unique image for your ministry.
Of course with any image search engine (especially Google), let the browser beware. There’s always some unexpected images that you may come across in your searching even with the most innocent of search terms. Use the proper discretion.
6 Great Image Sources on the Web
1. Stock.xchange (http://www.sxc.hu/)
395,174 free HQ photos for non-commercial use. This was the first alternative to GIS I discovered, it’s got great categories to help you find some creative backgrounds for posters and PowerPoints, check out the “texture”, “abstract”, and “minimal” backgrounds for some good wallpapers. You do need to sign-up to download the higher quality images, but it’s free.
2. Flickr’s Creative Commons (http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons)
The nice thing about Flickr is there are literally millions of photos to choose from. Unfortunately, not all of them are high quality or artistically shot. If you search under the creative commons filter, you can be certain that the artist is willing to share their work (though check on the occasional limitations). To check for a larger size image, click on the photo, then look for the actions button directly above the image, look for “view all sizes” to see other options.
3. CreationSwap’s Free Gallery (http://www.creationswap.com/gallery/free)
CreationSwap’s a great idea. Graphic Designers working for ministries share their more generic work with others. Some sections of the website charge a nominal fee, but the free gallery has a surprisingly good selection of Christian images, designs, and PowerPoint slides. It’s a great place to look if you don’t have much time and are looking for something more general.
4. Every Stock Photo (http://www.everystockphoto.com/)
Every Stock acts as a search engine and aggregate for free stock photos around the web. You enter a search term and it’ll pull results from a number of sites offering nearly 15 million free photos. Thankfully, each image uses Creative Commons licensing, so you know the artist is willing to share (again check for end user limitations).
5. Free Pixels (http://www.freepixels.com/)
Free Pixels offers a smaller selection than some of the other sites, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in consistently beautiful images. It’s a great site to find extremely creative and unique images. Best of all there’s no registration required!
6. Unprofound (http://www.unprofound.com/)
Unprofound offers a good mix of photos created and shared by Graphic Designers. It’s a lot like Free Pixels in its size and uniqueness. Images are entirely free to use for non-commercial purposes and again, no registration required.
If you still use Google Image Search
If you still want to use GIS, make sure that you familiarize yourself with the advanced search filters located on the left column.
Selecting a size larger than 1024×768 will make sure you find a high quality image that won’t over pixelate on your projector screen (go even larger if you’re going to print it).
You can also narrow by color schemes by selecting a base color under the “any color” section.
Finally, if you don’t want to click on each image to see the exact dimensions, you can click on the “show sizes” option located towards the bottom of the list of options.
That’s it for now, what image sites have you found helpful? Leave a comment below and share your favorite link.
About the writer: Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown is an Assistant Professor of Student Ministry at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. He attended Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. Before coming to LBC, he was the Sr. High Director at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion, PA. Aaron serves as the Project’s editor and web guy.