April 8, 2010

PicApp: Free quality images for your blog

PicApp: Quality images for your blog from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHave you noticed that blogging has been getting more professional lately? Part of it is the wealth of classy-looking templates and widgets available for users of WordPress, TypePad and other blog platforms. But it’s also due to plug-ins like Zemanta (which I now use for many of my posts) and PicApp.

I first heard of PicApp last year at WordCamp when I ran into Niran Amir, PicApp’s director of business development. What surprised me is that this service, which offers high-quality, world-class photography to anyone with a blog, is available not for a subscription but for free.

 

[picappgallerysingle id="8457816"]

For bloggers who write about topical subjects, like sports, celebrities, music, theater or the like, PicApp is a must-have. The above image of Katie Holmes, for instance, appears simply by inserting picappgallerysingle id=”8457816″ in brackets, pulled from the PicApp image gallery.

Partnerships with Getty Images, Jupiter and Corbis

PicApp enables bloggers and online publishers to easily embed images into their posts by partnering with top-flight image catalogues like Getty Images, Jupiter Images and Corbis. The service offers access to more than 20 million images, with new images added nearly every minute.

Newbie bloggers are sometimes surprised to learn that you’re not allowed to just grab an image off the Web — or even from Google Image Search — and republish it on your blog. That’s usually a copyright violation, unless the image is in the public domain or comes with a Creative Commons license. But few high-quality CC images are taken at timely events like the Oscars, the NBA playoffs, the Olympics, the front row of a rock concert or a Broadway play.

“As a technology company, we want to provide you, the blogger, with tools that make the usage of images as easy as possible,” Niran. That means bloggers don’t have to deal with licensing or copyrights or any of that legal stuff. PicApp handles it for them as the go-between with the major photo agencies. They make money by driving users to their image galleries and running ads there.

Watch, embed or download the interview on Vimeo (9 minutes, high definition)

Says Niran: “The publisher wins because they get free legal contextual images. The reader wins because they get more engagement with the blogger. The content partners win because they get an environment where images are being used properly and legally.”

PicApp works not only with individual bloggers but with blog platforms like BlogHer that want to offer legal content to their member bloggers. Last year they introduced a slide show and an image mosaic for combining multiple photos.

You can find PicApp as a WordPress plug-in as well as on other blog software.

My one quibble is that the images that are offered in my dashboard as I’m composing a post are often not relevant to the post, whereas Zemanta has grown increasingly sophisticated about matching blog content with relevant outside content. But type a term into the search box, and PicApp usually comes through.

For a young service, PicApp shows a great deal of promise.
JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.