Finding Photos for Non-Commercial Uses

Where can you find photos that are acceptable to use in non-commercial, educational publications? NOTE: Just because a photo doesn’t have a copyright sign by it on the web doesn’t mean it is copyright-free. Unless you are given permission to use it, assume it is copyrighted.

Here are some  examples photos you can use for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided you follow the guidelines given with them. Even, if the source – such as some of the USDA photos – doesn’t ask for a specific credit line, I give some type of citation as a courtesy.

USDA/ARS Image Gallery

Find photos of everything from animals to crops to food to insects to plants and more. You will be asked to voluntarily cite your intended use of the photo to help justify this service. Here’s an example of a photo from USDA/ARS Image Gallery:

Photo courtesy of USDA/ARS Image Gallery

Photo courtesy of USDA/ARS Image Gallery

NCI Visuals Online

The National Cancer Institute maintains this photo site and contains images from the collections of the Office of Communications and Education, National Cancer Institute.  Most of their images are in the “Public Domain” (free to use) and are labeled as such. They specify how their images are to be cited here.

While most of their photos relate to various aspects of cancer, they offer a fairly extensive collection of photos relating to “Food and Drink.” Here’s an example of a photo from NCI Visuals Online:

Photo source: The Website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)itute / Renee Comet (Photographer)

Photo source: The Website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov) / Renee Comet (Photographer)

USDA/FSIS Be Food Safe Photo Gallery

These images relate to food safety topics. USDA/FSIS allows and encourages reproduction of the photographs for educational purposes without further permission. You may NOT graphically any of the Be Food Safe Photos.

Here is an example of a photo from Be Food Safe.

Photo Source: USDA?FSIS Be Food Safe Photo Gallery

Photo Source: USDA/FSIS Be Food Safe Photo Gallery

USDA/FSIS Kitchen Companion Image Library

The same guidelines would apply as cited for the previous USDA/FSIS images. Here’s an example from this image library:

Photo Source: USDA/FSIS Kitchen Companion Image Library

Photo Source: USDA/FSIS Kitchen Companion Image Library

CDC Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

Sections of this website that might work for extension projects might include: Environmental Health, Everday Activities and Health Behaviors.  Guidelines for use and a fair use statement of public domain photos are given.

Photo Source: CDC/CDC-DPDx; Blaine Mathison

Photo Source: CDC/CDC-DPDx; Blaine Mathison

NPS, U.S Department of Interior, Yellowstone Plant Images Collection

These photos are in the public domain – just give the  proper credit line as cited here.

Here’s an example from this photo gallery:

Source: NPS Photo

Source: NPS Photo

Bugwood Network

BugwoodImages is a grant-funded project that was started in 1994 by the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Images may be used for educational/non-commercial usage provided the citation guidelines are followed.

Here’s an example of an image from the Bugwood Network:

Source: Jennifer E. Dacey, University of Rhode Island, Bugwood.org - See more at: http://www.insectimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=0580012#sthash.egtnbRFg.dpuf

Source: Jennifer E. Dacey, University of Rhode Island, Bugwood.org – See more at: http://www.insectimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=0580012#sthash.egtnbRFg.dpuf

NOAA Photo Library

Most of the photos in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce Collection are in the public domain. Credit must be given as described here.

Here’s a sample photo from the NOAA Photo Library:

wea00167

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce. Photographer: Grant W. Goodge,

USDA SNAP-Ed Photo Gallery

The photos in this gallery are food-related. Some include people of various racial and ethnic diversities.  There are also images of outdoor physical activity.

Here is an example from this collection:

G_Shot32_BB5_2.tif

Source: USDA SNAP-Ed Connection

MyPlate Graphic Resources

USDA’s MyPlate graphic is available in a variety of background colors as well as black and white.  You are welcome to use the image as long as you use it as a whole. Here’s an example in a color you don’t usually see.

myplate_magenta

Creative Commons

This is one of my favorite photo sites … as it helps me search for photos that let me “modify, adapt, or build upon.” I can even search for photos that can be used for commercial purposes.

The website warns that “You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link.”

I feel the “Flickr Image” is the most helpful image source to use. Here’s how to use this site:

  1. List what you want to find in the search box.
  2. Check how you want to use it.
  3. Click on the “Flickr” box and start looking for images.

Here’s a screenshot of what that would look like:

creative-commonsAfter you’ve found a photo you like:

  1. Hover over it until a black band appears at the bottom.
  2. Click on the arrows on the right hand side to get to the “lightbox.

Here’s a screen shot of what that looks like:

sunflower2

Source: Screenshot of Sunflower 1 by Ton Rulkens, http://flic.kr/p/7DqYnT / CC BY SA 3.0

Next “right click” on the photo and click on the size of photo you want to download – here is how that looks:

sunflower3

Source: Screen shot of Sunflower 1 by Ton Rulkens, http://flic.kr/p/7DqYnT / CC BY SA 3.0

That will bring up a screen that looks like this – proceed to download the photo.

sunflower4

Source: Screenshot of Sunflower 1 by Ton Rulkens, http://flic.kr/p/7DqYnT / CC BY SA 3.0

IMPORTANT: When you use the photo, you must give appropriate credit. These guidelines developed by the Australian Creative Commons Team are some of the most comprehensive on the web.   They provide examples and include a chart of how you might attribute a Creative Commons (CC) work in various mediums.

These four items must be included in the attribution:

  • credit the creator;
  • provide the title of the work;
  • provide the URL where the work is hosted;
  • indicate the type of license it is available under and provide a link to the license (so others can find out the license terms);

For more information about using CC photos (especially note why you should always use the latest version of the CC licenses), read these CC  FAQs

Please share any favorite photo image libraries you use for non-commercial, educational works!

Posted by Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension Educator

This entry was posted in Social Media, Web-based Learning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finding Photos for Non-Commercial Uses

  1. Monica Bland, Extension Educator says:

    Great resource and very timely. I am working on a project that requires many images and it’s always a challenge to find free images to use. My search time just got reduced. Thank you!

  2. Megan says:

    Great resources! One other site I use frequently is stock.xchng at http://www.sxc.hu/ This is a site more like a commercial stock photo site but all are free. Some have restricted licenses, such as sharing the work with the author, but all have needed have been usable in my Extension work. Thank you!

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