In the coming months you'll be creating lots of communications for ministry and outreach over the holidays. As you do this, the following list of resources will help you with new images, photos, and an incredible way to create videos. All of the resources below have free sections, however, be careful because many of them also offer images for sale to finance their sites.
I didn't include standard, Christian sites because most of you already know about these and many of the images we use today are not your standard old-fashioned clip art images, but thematic photos. I did include some basic clip art resources, but also a number of very contemporary photo sites.
I also included some smaller, new sites—if you like the material on these, be sure to download it ASAP—some of these sites don't last long, but have great images available while they do. Also, download the images before the site owners realize how much work it is to keep up the site and start charging for it, as I've seen happen on some sites.
TIPS on image collecting and organizing images and media
- It's never too early to start collecting and organizing images for the upcoming holidays (and after Christmas it seems like Easter comes quite quickly). Here are a few tips to help you keep from getting overwhelmed.
- Create folders on your computer for the different holidays and the images you'll save.
- After some preliminary searching, decide on a theme, a look, perhaps even a color scheme for your upcoming holiday.
- Use down-time to look for images ahead of time so you'll have them when you get ready to put your communication projects together. Doing this ahead of time makes actual production go much more smoothly.
- If you have a laptop at home (this is what I do), browse through these resources while watching TV. There are thousands of images available today and it can take many hours to go through them to find just the right ones at the right price (free) for ministry projects. When I do this, I don't feel so guilty for watching TV.
Photos & other media
In many communications and on websites today the trend is towards using photos and not clip art (though there are times in church communications when clip art is still incredibly useful). Many church communicators think they need to buy photos, but the sites below have some excellent ones and all the photos are free and copyright free to use.
http://pixabay.com/ This site has an incredible collection of high quality photos that are all free to use under Creative Commons license. This site also includes simple vector graphics and illustrations. It has a useful search box that you can also sort your searches for photos, vector, or illustrations only.
http://www.imcreator.com/free/ Fairly new site, contemporary, high quality images. Many require attribution, but are free. Also has icons, website templates.
http://picjumbo.com/ very nice, contemporary photos, many of them free. Has a good listing of categories for searching. Not a huge site, but useful for up-to-date subject matter.
http://publicdomainarchive.com/ Interesting collection of images—some taken by the site owners others from public domain resources. Some are free, some for a membership fee. Worth checking back often as they post new images each week. They don't have a good search function.
http://nos.twnsnd.co/ New Old Stock—advertises itself as lots of uploaded old images or images in the public domain. Made me feel really old to see the space and astronaut images included. No search function; and not particularly holiday related, but some great images and fun to scroll through.
http://magdeleine.co/browse/ "handpicked, free photos for your inspiration" very nice, contemporary photos, free to use attribution required. One nice feature they have is a search tool that you can search based on colors.
CLIPART and Image Resources
http://www.clker.com/ simple clip art images for the holidays, with an emphasis on very simple images, but often that is exactly what you need. You have to scroll past some ads, but thousands of images here. One other useful feature is when you click on an image, they include a number of similar ones, e.g. search for "Santa" and on the download page are dozens of other Santa images in many different styles.
The program also has a built-in simple editing program, SVGEdit. For example if you download a line drawing of Santa, you can open up the program and with one click change the color of the image to a red, instead of black line drawing.
http://thepatternlibrary.com/ Fascinating collection of patterns—not a lot of them, but definitely worth looking at and downloading—you can do so much with them later.
www.animoto.com I LOVE this program! It allows you to create incredible videos (think alternative announcements, etc.) by simply adding images and captions, hitting a button and then the program turns them into great videos with amazing graphics and transitions. When you first look at the program you may wonder why it is listed as "free" but scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see a section for "non-profits" where you church can get a free membership.
I know there are many other sites, PLEASE send me the ones you like and I'll do another collection of them, email to: email@example.com.