Image hunting techniques for bloggers

On the prowl for a copyright free image? I found this one on the CIA World Factbook web site.

See that little doodad widget over there? No, not there. In the column on the side of this blog where stuff is. Yeah, there. The one that says, “Blog with Integrity.”

What does that mean?

Yes, even a Guru of Negativity can still maintain his integrity.

One of the ways I try to blog with integrity is by respecting intellectual property rights. I try to write my own stuff, and when I use a source, like Wikipedia, I give credit where credit is due. I do this with links and sourcing excerpts.

When it comes to images I try to do the same thing. Stealing isn’t nice so I try not to do it.

Here are some fun techniques I use for finding images for use in blog posts and respecting the rights of others.

Do It Yourself (DIY)

When possible, create your own stuff. Get off your ass and take your own photos. Of course that isn’t always workable or possible. So keep reading.

Search government sites

In most cases, images created by the government are open season and free of copyright. Makes sense since we own the government. (At least in theory.)

You can easily use a Google Image Search (GIS) to peruse these images. (This is just one way to do it.)

  1. Go to http://www.google.com
  2. Search for something (let’s try “paper airplane”)
  3. Search results for “Everything” will be displayed by default
  4. On the left column, click “Images” to narrow your search
  5. Near the top of the page, under the Search button, click the link that says “Advanced Search”
  6. Find the box that says “Domain” and enter the following to limit your search to government web site domains: *.gov
  7. Click the “Google Search” button to search again
  8. This time the results should only be from images hosted on government domains

I found the image on the left in the search results. I clicked it and was taken to a web site owned by the Federal Aviation Administration. I saved the image to my desktop and then loaded it into my blog.

Viola! It’s that easy.

Note: You should keep in mind that not all images on GOV domains are copyright free. You sometimes have to do a bit of research. Find the “policies” link and see what it says. You can usually get a pretty good idea whether an image is usable or not.

I have seen some city and county government web sites that claim a copyright on their material. I’m not sure what’s up with that. In those rare cases I just shrug and move on.

So don’t forget about the government when you’re looking for a photograph. You might get lucky. NASA is a great source for images. So is the CIA World Factbook and the Library of Congress.

Flickr

Photographers on the Flickr service have the option of making their pictures available for other uses (or not). One way of letting others share your work is by using a Creative Commons (CC) license. This is a great way to legally find photographs for your blog.

  1. Go to http://www.flickr.com
  2. In the search box at the top-right, search for something (lets try “mardis gras”)
  3. A bunch of pictures will be displayed
  4. Just like before, find and click the “Advanced Search” link
  5. Scroll down and find the CC section and check the box that says, “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”
  6. Click the SEARCH button again

Now you’ll only be seeing images where the license holder allows sharing. Neat, huh? You’ll be amazed at the quality and also the number of pictures available for most searches. There are some great finds here!

Find a picture you like, click to enlarge, then click the SHARE THIS button. Select the “Grab the HTML” option, choose a size, then paste that code into your blog post.

This will automatically create a link back to the original photo on Flickr. Be sure to leave that to say “thank you” to the photographer for sharing.

Here’s one I found for Mardis Gras that tells a nice story.

Maria and her Beads

Found on Flickr via a Creative Commons search

Sometimes you’ll find an image on Flickr that you want to use but it isn’t flagged as being part of the Creative Commons. Just drop the Flickr member and note and ask permission. I’ve done this many times and it has always worked. Be sure to link the image to the Flickr member’s account and then send them a copy of your post and say thanks.

Open Source Clip Art

If you want clip art rather than a photo, try the Open Clip Art Library for copyright free images. This is where the artwork for Hyppo and Critter came from.

So, that’s just a few ideas. There are many more. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

6 responses

  1. Occasionally, I’ll search creative commons. More of the time, I snag something like a logo or other image from a commercial site–could be that since that’s my job I don’t feel bad about it or it could be THEY’RE GETTING FREE ADS…

    I don’t like the idea of using Flikr (even though you mention the CC possibility there) simply because I have a default understanding that it’s “somebody’s” work. The commercial stuff is, too, but I’m telling you as somebody who knows: the artist doesn’t get credit. We do what we’re told and after several proofs, they print it and make money.

    I’m also quick to grab from wikipedia but I reckon as a wiki, anybody posting there understands that’s up for grabs.

    Like

    1. Wikipedia is a great idea and I go there often, too. A lot of pictures there have been put into the public domain which means you can do what you want with them. It’s still polite to give credit and a link, though.

      If someone puts something in the public domain they don’t have to get credit. It’s still nice to do so, though.

      The Creative Commons isn’t quite the same. There may be restrictions on modification and/or commercial use. (There are additional checkboxes for that on Flickr.)

      Any CC image I find on Flickr is always clickable back to the original artist.

      Like

      1. When I use CC, I tick OFF the “can modify” and the one that’s about commercial use. So, that only loads stuff that’s wide-open.

        I didn’t know that about flickr, although I just used an image from them yesterday that I had to go searching to GET the photographer’s stream. I must be doing something wrong.

        Like

  2. Thanks for the ideas – this has been a helpful post!

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    1. Cool. I look forward to seeing these tips in action on your blog. 🙂

      Like

  3. Thank you for the article. Great tips. I’ve been creating clip art since the 80’s. Check our our catalog at http://artclip.biz Lot’s of great clipart.

    Best Regards,

    Red

    Like

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