There are some amazing photos on Flickr that are free to use.
At a certain point in the development of a website or blog, it becomes clear that great photos help your digital projects. There are scientific explanations for it, but it’s not hard to see that better images will keep people engaged in whatever media you’re creating. This is a short description of how you can use Flickr to find beautiful images that you can use in your projects and presentations for free.
How to use Flickr to find Creative Commons Images
Step 1: Go to Flickr.com
Step 2: Click the “search” button in the upper right-hand corner.
(Don’t worry about putting in search terms yet, this will be done in a sec.)
Step 3: On the next page, click on “advanced search” to the right of the search bar.
Step 4: On the Advanced Search page, enter your search terms.
Step 5: Scroll down the page and click the box titled “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”. Click search!
(also select the boxes below if you intend to use the photos commercially or modify them)
Browsing through your results
Flickr will display its best guess at the kind of images you’d want to see based on your search terms. Thousands of photographers post images up to Flickr and many of them are very good. You’ll have a thumbnail view of the first twenty-or-so images on the first page, so find one you like and click on it.
You’ll be taken to a page that shows the image in a larger size, plus some information about the photo/photographer.
Scroll down the page and you will find the copyright information. Click on the Creative Commons logo or the text that says “some rights reserved”. You’ll be sent to a short page that gives you details about how you are allowed to use the photo and if the author asks for attribution (which most do).
Here’s an example of an attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license. This means you can use the original photo for your non-commercial work so long as you give credit to the photographer.
Saving the image to your computer
If the Creative Commons license on the photo will allow you to do what you intended to with the photo, click back to the page with the larger view of the picture. You won’t be able to right-click and “save as” until the next step.
Click once on the photo. The background will drop away and the photo will have a black background. Click on “View All Sizes” in the upper right-hand corner. Pick a size that suits your needs.
You will then see the photo on its own in a plain view. You can click on “Download the [particular] size of this photo” or right-click on the image and click “Save As” to save it to your computer.
Whatever you end up doing with the photos you find on Flickr, please respect the Creative Commons license terms. When asked where you got a photo, it’s easy to respond with, “Oh, somewhere on the Internet.” Do your best to keep track of the photographer’s name or Flickr username and link back to their Flickr page. See my caption below the photo at the top of this post for an example of how you can give credit to the author.
Also, I do realize that there are many advantages to signing up for a free Flickr account (saving photos as *favorites* and connecting with other photographers), but this short guide is meant to get people going that haven’t had much experience with Flickr. It’s a great place for photographers to have their work noticed and for appreciative people to find fantastic images for their use.
What other sources do you use to find images for projects and presentations?