PICTURE POST: How to source Creative Commons images (in pictures)

There’s nothing that ruins a piece of text as the lack of a decent image.

A picture can tell a thousand words.

So, thank the Lord for creative commons.

It’s a place to go when there’s no photography budget and you need an image in a hurry.

Creative commons licences allow for images to be re-used so long as certain conditions are met.

One of the best places to look for them is Flickr.

Here’s what you do looking for a picture:

1. Go to Flickr.com.

2. Let’s say we’re looking for a picture of a computer. Search everyone’s uploads for the terms ‘creative commons + computer.’

3. You’ll have a stack of thumbnails to look through.

4. Make a selection. Click on the image you want. This is what it will look like:

5. Double check the creative commons licence. That’s on the right hand side of the image. Half way down.

6. Click actions. That’s just above the image.

7. Choose a size. Download it.

8. Use the picture creatively.

9. If you can’t find it using the general search have a look at opting for searching for The Commons…

10. Now sit back and have a slice of cake.

Creative commons credits:

Cake http://www.flickr.com/photos/danieldslee/5646762765/

Computer http://www.flickr.com/photos/lselibrary/4028604399/

Join the Conversation


  1. I love Flickr, have just started using it to source photographs for work projects. I really admire the sharing ethos, and it offers so many images that you just wouldn’t be able to source or afford otherwise. Creative commons rock!

  2. There’s an easier way. Run an advanced search by selecting the box near the bottom to only search CC content. Saves the scrolling time and frustration when the pic you want is reserved.

  3. Great stuff, Dan.

    Of course, Flickr isn’t the only source of open-licenced images; one of the best is Wikimedia Commons (the media repository allied to Wikipedia), where all of the content is under licences which make it available for reuse.

    It’s worth remembering that many such licences require that attribution (usually a name-check and link back) be given to the photographer (as you do, above). Failure to give attribution can land you in hot water!

    Few such images would be available for free reuse if people and organisations didn’t generously release their images under an open licence — I wrote a blog post describing how to do that.

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