How to embed Getty Images free photos, and, what’s the catch?

The world’s largest photo service, Getty Images, just made many of its stock photos free to use. Here’s a guide on how to find images and embed them in a blog post or web page.

The catch is that the free photos can only be used in a non-commercial context (in other words only in an editorial context like a news blog post) on a website, blog or social media page. The free photos are available for embed and there are some limitations with the embed, as demonstrated in this post, that you need to be aware of.

You need to create a free account with Getty Images in order to explore and use the free photos. Once you are logged in, type some keywords in the search box on the front page and you will be brought to a page with initial search results, along with advanced search options to fine tune your search.

As an example, I searched for “hurricane Sandy NYC,” and here is a partial screenshot of the search page. If I scroll down on this page, there are more search options on the left and more photos in the main area.

Getty Images free photos

As I was interested in finding photos that show the extent of damage Hurricane Sandy caused to some NYC communities, I scrolled down the search options and selected “destruction” from the list of suggested keywords, and the page refreshed to show all photos that are tagged with “destruction.”

Note that due to copyright restrictions, Getty Images does not make all the photos free to use. To check if a particular photo is free to use, move your mouse over that photo thumbnail and, in the popup window, check if there is an embed icon underneath the photo, as shown in the screenshot below:

Getty Images free photos embed

If available, click on that embed icon and you will see, in a new popup window, the ready-made embed codes, as shown in the screenshot below. There is also an option for you to preview how the embedded photo looks like.

Getty Images free photos embed codes

Copy the embed codes and paste them to the HTML editor of a blog post. I’m embedding below the photo of a damaged house in the Belle Harbor section of Queens borough. The embedded photo is clickable and links to a dedicated page on Getty Images; the Twitter and Tumblr share buttons underneath the embedded photo also point to that Getty Images page.

If you click to check out that dedicated page, you will see this photo with a watermark, along with pricing information for people who want to remove the watermark and use this photo for commercial uses such as advertising, marketing, TV, publishing, etc. However, if you want to, you can try right-clicking the embedded photo below and save a watermark-free copy to your computer – that is, I assume, for personal use only.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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