The general rule with images is this: buy them or take them yourself.
Be very careful with “free” images. Make sure you read the fine print. Very often free images are only free for non-commercial use. If you’re dead set on using free images just make sure they are free for what you want to use them for. My preference is to buy them or use ones I’ve taken myself.
I’ve asked a number of clients over the years where they’ve gotten their images and a somewhat common and alarming response is: Google images. When you search Google there is the “Images” tab and these clients were just saving those images and using them on their website. Those images ARE NOT free. Most of them are copyrighted and cannot lawfully be used on your website. Google is simply indexing images used on other sites just as it indexes websites.
You can get sued for using images that you have no right to use. I’ve had several clients tell me of incidents like this (fortunately, I had no hand in it). Be careful and play it safe.
You can spend a lot of money on images. The range is wide. For most needs inexpensive images are the way to go. Many image websites have a monthly fee that allows you to download so many images per month and then you pay for any others. I use stock.adobe.com. Sorry, that’s all I got right now. I used to also use a place called the Dollar Photo Club, but they have been absorbed by Adobe.
At Adobe we end paying about $3.29 per image. This is a good price. If you want to see how good a price it is go check out prices at Getty Images.
Taking Your Own Photos
Why not? It’s kind of fun and a good smartphone camera is just fine. It doesn’t cost you anything…well except the price of the camera or phone, the coffee shop you’ll stop at on way to take photos and the place you’ll have lunch at when you’re done. Still fun, though.