Saturday, August 29, 2009

When You Need Photos

What do you do when you really need a special photo for a paper or a project you are producing? I go looking for free, or public domain, photographs.
by Charlie Leck

I get questions very often about the photographs or drawings I use on my blog. People want to know where I get them.

Well, that can sometimes be a complicated question. I buy some (

There are a number of sources that will sell you photos for limited use. The higher the resolution the more expensive they are. For web use you don’t need very high resolution photos. I use some high rez photos in projects for customers (ads or brochures) and I need to pay more for those.

By and large, however, there are millions of free photographs available on the Internet – that is photos that are in the public domain and not copyrighted. If you use photographs frequently, you should know about those really good web sites that provide photos you can either copy, save or download for you own use. The Federal Government has lots of sites (like government parks or museums) that allow you to use the photographs. There are private sites that also allow you to use photographs – some in a limited way and others in unlimited fashion. I’ll list a lot of these web sites for you at the end of this blog.
However, I want to tell you now about a really neat web site with hundreds and hundreds of photographs you can download and use in pretty unlimited fashion ( All the photos illustrating this blog come from this web site. Of course, you should give credit to the web site when you use them. You mustn’t ever try to claim or even hint that they are your own photographs. Naturally, you must not try to copyright them in anyway.

One of my Facebook friends mentioned the other day that she needed some particular photographs for a project she had at work. It was one of the few times I’ve not found anything at Photo8. I had to look elsewhere and I ended up going out and shooting some photos for her myself. Normally, I can just look around on the web and find plenty of wonderful photos that are in the public domain.

If you want to see some of the web sites where I go to look for photographs, go to the listing that follows a few of these great photos from

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

photo courtesy This is a lamb and rice dish and I once used this photo on the Sheepy Hollow web site.

photo courtesy

Here are some suggestions regarding web sites you can visit when looking for FREE, public domain photographs (be sure to read the possible restrictions).

America as it Was (vintage postcards)

Congressional Pictorial Direcctory

Art Renewal (classic paintings)

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Lib Beinecke Library at Yale University

Library of Congress (use with caution)

Burning Well

National Park Service

Child Labor in Am (1908-1912) photos of Lewis W. Line

Naval Historical Center

Easy Stock Photos

New York Public Library Digital Col

Every Stock Photo (need to sign up)

NOAA Photo Library

Famous Art Works

Pennsylvania Game Commission Photo Gal

Fashion Plate (pre 1914) UofWashington

U.S. Antarctic Program

Finally Creative (public domain images)

U.S. Census Bureau Newsroom


U.S.D.A. Image Gallery

Gimp Savvy Photo Archive

U.S.D.A. (Natural Resources....)

Google-Life Photos (restrictions)

U.S. Dept of Defense public images

Gov Watch (copyright free photos)

U.S. Dept of Defense Imagery

Heritage of the Great War

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Image Base (David N. Black)

U.S. Government Photo Portal

Images in the Public Domain (SRU)

World War II Poster Collection

Karen's Whimsy (pre '23 scans)

Logo Design Web (author's photos)

Old Book Illustrations

Open Clip Art Library (vector graphics)


Photos of the Great War

Photo Sleuth (Blog)

Pic Finder

Princeton On-Line

Public Domain Depot

Public Domain

Public Domain

Public Photos for Commercial Use

Republic Domain

Secret Museum of Mankind

Teacher Tap

Uncle Sam's Photos

U.S. History Imagines

Web Appers

Zorger (pre 1923 scans)

There you go! If you're looking for photos for your blog, or for your web site, or for your project paper, you should be able to find plenty of things that will work.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these great links!!