By Frank Hutchison and Deanna Tiemann, Guest Blogger

#SpokaneAMA Question: Where do you go to find free photos and images?
First of all, we have to make a distinction between personal and business use of images, whether they are photos or graphics.
Personal use is given greater latitude primary because it’s just too much effort to police but there are exceptions when whoever owns the copyright decides they want to teach a lesson – the students being sued by the RCAA for file sharing songs is a good point.
Businesses need to be more observing of copyright because everyone assumes that businesses have money – so you are a more likely target and more people are likely to see the image.
The caveat on all images is to always read the fine print!
Here are a few websites where you can get images – photos and graphics –for free and use them as you wish for the most part:
The fine print on their website: Our images can be used and modified for websites, web banners & headers, advertisements (flyers, brochures, posters), powerpoint presentations, book covers/pages, CD covers, smart phone applications, etc. You will be granted worldwide rights for unlimited projects and up to 10,000 printed copies for free of charge content and up to 500,000 printed copies for paid content (unlimited online). is sort of special as they have an actual legal AGREEMENT on their website.  The fine print on their website specifies that they “grant to You a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use the Image on the terms and conditions explained in this Agreement and on the Image preview page FREE OF CHARGE.”  The fine print furthers specifies that you will use the images only for non-money making activities and avoid anything that would be harmful to freeimages or the creators of the images.  (See specifics.)
The fine print on their website: When you download a free or purchased image from you automatically receive our ‘standard license’ which allows you to use the image as an illustration for almost any business, personal, educational or charitable purpose. The image is yours to use anywhere in the world as many times as you need and for as long as you want.
If you choose to download an image free of charge you need to publish a credit to the creator of that image wherever it’s used.
If you wish to sell merchandise bearing one of our images, where your customers are likely to buy the product solely or mainly BECAUSE it displays that image, you will need to purchase an ‘extended license’.
The fine print on their website: You can copy, modify, distribute and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission and without paying attribution. However, depicted content may still be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights.
The fine print on their website: Almost all content hosted on Wikimedia Commons may be freely reused subject to certain restrictions in many cases. You do not need to obtain a specific statement of permission from the licensor unless you wish to use the work under different terms than the license states.
Content under open content licenses may be reused without any need to contact the licensor, but
  • some licenses require that the original creator be attributed,
  • some licenses require that the specific license be identified when reusing (including, in some cases, stating or linking to the terms of the license), and
  • some licenses require that if you modify the work, your modifications must also be similarly freely licensed.
  • some files have been licensed through OTRS volunteers. The licenses can be checked at the OTRS Noticeboard.
Again, I would like to remind you that you must always check the fine print to learn what is, and is not, permitted.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.