They Laughed When I Used Public Domain Photos To Create Photo Books – But When They Saw What I’d Done…


They could hardly believe it…

The first time I heard about photo books being created I thought to myself "this is horrible!" (I could have sworn that I came up with that idea a few years back!) But, it was inevitable… take a couple of great photos, print them into a book, add cover and wait patiently for…

The Look On Your Friends Faces
When They See Your Photos!

But how many people do you think are actually using public domain photos to create their photo books?

My guess is, probably very few. Now in my humble opinion using public domain images is a cool little untapped resource that you can milk as much as you want and need…

Except for one minor problem…


Most folks have more than enough of their own photos!

But if you don't have your OWN photos then using public domain photos is the NEXT best thing.

You see, using the public domain (free to use images) means you can focus on creating "niche" photo books that a) you can potentially sell, and b) have absolutely nothing at all to do with…

All Those Weird Family Photos
You Have In Your Photo Album!

See what I'm getting at here?

It's OK if you want to create a photo book for your own family, say a wedding book, family reunion, collection of your favourite handguns, vacation to the top of the world (etc) type book… Because that's the kind of book you would normally want to share with family (…well, most families at least!)

But what if you want to sell your photo book online?

Here's where using public domain photos takes the cake. Once you've got some ideas about what sort of theme you want, then it's just a matter of using a site like www.sxc.hu to source the right images.

Having said that – you might need to add some bylines in your photo book to give credit to the photographers whose photos you are using — read the download restrictions regarding what you can and cannot do with your photos.

Sidenote — you don't want a photographer getting all nasty on you claiming you didn't credit her for that photo book you've been selling all year on eBay… You want her calling to say thank you for all the extra promotion I got from your book dude!

Alternatively just fork out the extra expense and grab these wickedly effective stock photos that will really blow your photo book out of the water!

There is a catch though (isn't there always?)

You may be rustling around inside that great photo site I mentioned above and come to a startling conclusion…

A Lot Of Great Photos But Gee,
Thanks But No Thanks!

This is the rub with using public domain photos… there's a LOT of photos out there and it can take a LONG time to source the right photo for the job.

But still, it's always worth a test run.

You might just be able to create a photo book filled with images of a particular niche… like model trains and railways for example. Or poodles at play, or 20 photos of my favourite eatable flowers …

And then when folks order it on eBay you can immediately fulfil the order through Cafepress, Snapfish or Lulu, and get it in the next mail to them…

Actually the whole process of creating your photo book has pretty much been perfected with sites like Snapfish, Photobox or Shutterfly. These guys have nailed it – made it easy and simple to upload your photos, choose a great photo book template, purchase your book and get it mailed.

Whichever way you go, public domain photos are still going to be the cool dude's option…

Here's a few public domain image based sites to boogie down with:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/

http://www.sxc.hu/
http://www.public-domain-photos.com/

Got comments? Don't be shy… go ahead and make my day!

About Martin

Mad-enthusiastic infopreneur, photographer & video funny guy who stops traffic for animals, feels at home in the ocean & is on walkabout right now. See me on Twitter

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  • http://takegreatdigitalphotos.com Great Digital

    nice article..i appreciate your effort in posting this article..thanks for posting..

  • G

    as long as people don't think they can just take peoples photos and put them in a book and earn money from it, because thats stealing, and as a photographyer, we put a lot of money, time and effort into producing our photos which are not for someone else to steel and make money from