Pixabay – free graphics and photos with no restrictions

Pixabay-logo.svgNothing beats free and Pixabay offers pictures and graphics with the CC0 license which is the least restrictive license possible. Simply put: take the image and forget about it.

Pixabay_screenshotBest yet, these are good quality images.   Pixabay has almost 300,000 images which can be found with Google.

Pixabay does not require attribution although I always require my students to credit their sources even when they are public domain. Pixabay does not require sign-in although they limit your downloads to medium size.  The site comes in Spanish as well as number of other languages.

colored-pencils-168392_1280This is a fantastic site.   My only minor quibble is that they also include Shutterstock photos which are not free. This might be confusing for some students.

If your students need pictures for their projects, Pixabay is a fantastic resource.


Resource: Pixabay

Description:  Thousands of high quality pictures and graphics with no licensing restrictions.

License CC0/no restrictions

Alternatives: Wikimedia Commons

Rating: highly useful

morgueFile – free stock photos

jjffjj_morgueFile_logoMorgueFilemorgueFile includes a collection of free photos with very few restrictions. Many of the photos in morgueFile (why the name?) have that “stock” look associated with commercial sites.

Helpfully, photos can be searched with key words.  Less helpfully, the site also includes links to commercial stock photos which are not free.  Students will need to keep within the free portion of the site.

morgueFile uses its own license which is similar to the Creative Commons license but is slightly more confusing.  The photos are meant to be used for “reference” and not redistributed unaltered.   As I understand the license, if you put a photo on a blog or web site, the photo should have attribution and link back to morgueFile (as I do below) rather than redistributing it from your site.

For in-classroom use, this should be no problem since you are not redistributing the photo.

by Middlewick







Tool:  morgueFile
Description:  stock photos licensed for reuse
License: morgueFile license
Alternatives: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr, Yahoo CC image search
Rating: very useful

Getty Open Content Program — free photos of fine art

Getty Logo




The Getty Museum provide high quality public domain images of their collection available with virtually no restrictions (attribution is requested.)   Kudos to the Getty Trust for their dedication to open content — an effort that more appropriately should be led by publicly funded museums.   Getty_screenshot

Currently Getty provides over 87,000 public domain images which can be found on the Getty Search Gateway with the “Open Content Images” filter selected.

Click on the image below to see the excellent documentation that comes with each image.

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.
Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.








This is a fantastic contribution to the open information movement.  Thank you Getty Trust!







Tool:   Getty Open Content Program
Description:  Public domain photos of the Getty art collection.
License: Public domain with attribution requested.
Alternatives: Wikimedia Commons
Rating: very useful


imgur — image hosting, no account needed

imjur - logoI use Flicker and Photobucket for most of my picture hosting but, sometimes, you just want to quickly upload a photo and link to it.   imgur is perfect for this.

imgur lets you upload photos from your computer or cross-load an image from another web site.  Best of all, there is no sign-in or cost.  I was delighted to see that imgur clearly keeps the copyright with the originator of the photo. Too many sites claim copyright to all their users’ data which is a deal-breaker for me.

imjur - screenshotimgur conveniently provides links to your file for many situations, including all the main social media sites, but I like that I can link directly to the photo, no hassles involved.

The only downside I’m aware of is that photos may be deleted if they go unviewed for more than six months.  For many of my uses, like email newsletters, this is no problem since the document is meant for a single use.

If you need to quickly upload a picture with no hassles or cost, imgur could be a highly useful service.

Tool: imgur
Description: free picture hosting site with no registration
License: open-ethos
Alternatives: Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, other
Rating: very useful

Educational Technology Clearing House – art and photos for schools








The Educational Technology Clearing House provides clip art, stock photos, presentation art and maps, all organized around educational themes. The organization is especially useful, allowing teachers to browse according to subject.

Most of the clip-art (“ClipArt ETC“) is similar to what you find in the famous Dover books/CDs.  In my youth, during the Golden Age of Photocopying, I had great fun with Dover but I don’t see kids using it much these days. Even so, ClipArt ETC attractive and potentially useful.






The “ClipPix ETC” section  is organized into twenty different categories and is very high quality although, I suspect, most students would have better luck finding exactly what they want on Wikimedia.

Presentations ETC is potentially the most useful, providing 20,000 different items for themes/backgrounds/buttons/letters/etc. The themes I looked at were very attractive and imported nicely into LibreOffice Impress. I didn’t test them but they also have themes for the Mac-based Keynote program.

If, like me, you prefer to build your own themes, the site also provides some very nice backgrounds and buttons.

Unfortunately, most of the designed are very corporate-looking, perhaps better for teachers than students. One would have hoped that an educational site would have lots of youthful designs.

The least useful is probably the map collection (“Maps ETC“)  since most are old but they are organized nicely, should you need an old map.

This service is provided by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, part of the College of Education at the University of South Florida. The license for students and teachers is clearly stated on the front page, typically limited 25 or 50 items per project.

Tool: Educational Technology Clearing House
Description: Well-organized photos, clip art, presentation graphics and maps
License: free with quantity limitations
Alternatives: Wikimedia, Flickr
Rating: useful

Wikimedia Commons – first source for Open Content

Wikimedia Commons has almost 14 million free images for you and your students. Wikimedia is the place where Wikipedia images are stored and it’s the first place I go when looking for imagest for a presentation.

When we teach our students about ethical use of media, Wikimedia is one resource they should know about.

One of the best things about Wikimedia is that the images are categorized and documented. There is usually no ambiguity about what the photo is, who is the author and the license for re-use.

The kind of documentation is a rarity with photos you find with Google.

Don’t just consume media, contribute!

Wikimedia Commons is a great way to model collaborative learning to your students. Even with millions of images, Wikimedia still has lots of gaps.

I could imagine a lesson built around creating images for Wikimedia. Students could take pictures of something like a local historical site in your city and contribute those to Wikimedia with all the proper documentation. Wikimedia is also looking for diagrams and illustrations.

Wikimedia Commons

Description: Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository of public domain and freely-licensed educational media content.

License: Creative Commons or public domain

Alternatives: Flickr, Archive.org

Rating: very useful



IrfanView – photo processor

There are a lot of photo editors on market, many of them open-source but I have yet to find one that does what IrfanView does so well — photo processing.

I call it processing because it doesn’t replace a full-feature editing program like GIMP (or Photoshop).

If, for example, you have 600 photos from your students that are all too big and a few too small — IrfanView can resize them with ease. The same for a bunch of photos that all are poorly exposed. Or a directory of photos that all need to be rotated. Or converted from GIF to JPEG.

IrfanView is also a very efficient file viewer where you can view a batch of photos and tweak them one-by-one. You could do this with Photoshop or GIMP but not as efficiently. It also works nicely for batch scanning.

IrfanView is not open-source but it is free for individuals. I include it here because I have not found an open-source program which replaces it.  If you decline to have the adware installed, it is as well-behaved as most open-source packages.

If your library is running Windows PCs, I consider it a must-install.

IrfanView is only for Windows but it runs fairly well in Linux using Wine (a Windows emulator). Reportedly, it can run on a Mac using a Windows emulator.


IrfanView http://www.irfanview.com/
Portable version: http://www.irfanview.com/
a photo processor for resizing, cropping, rotating, sharpening, batch-scanning, creating panoramas and much more. Many features can be done in batch mode.
free but not open-source.
many, notably GIMP.
very useful for Windows users

The Five Best Places To Find Free Creative Commons Photos

MakeUseOf (.com) has a useful article on finding open-content photos.

Looking to add some images to your blog post? Obviously, I sympathize. All of the writers at MakeUseOf are on the prowl for ways to add some visual flair to our articles, but we also have to make sure we respect the rights of photographers while doing so.

That’s why we like Creative Commons content. There are a lot of places that you can find such images, some of which you may have already heard of, and others you probably haven’t. The five websites listed in this article certainly are not the only places you can find free images but they are my favorite. …read more

They mention Flickr, a favorite of mine.   They don’t mention Wikimedia Commons, another favorite.