If you’re looking for interesting photos to use in a presentation, blog post, report, flyer, website or other material, you should check out Flickr’s large library of photos. Its massive collection is a treasure trove of photos and its Advanced Search feature is your treasure map to help find the best picture for you to use!
Why I’m a Fan of Flickr
Many of the photos I’ve used at The Wonder of Tech since the beginning of this blog have been from Flickr. Even the header photo I’m currently using at the top of my site is from Flickr.
I’m a big fan of Flickr for many reasons:
1. Free Storage
Flickr gives you 1 TB (terabyte = 1000 GB) of free photo storage, still the most generous available. See, Flickr – The Solution to Your Photo Storage Issues
2. Flickr’s large library of photos
With the site’s generous offering of copious quantities of free photo storage, its library continues to grow larger daily.
3. Advanced Search
Navigating this massive library may seem challenging but by understanding Advanced Search, you’ll be finding interesting photos to use in no time.
How to Search for Flickr Photos
Often when I need a photo for a blog post, I turn to Flickr. By using their search fields, I can minimize my search time and maximize my chances of finding a photo I can use.
Searching Flickr isn’t obvious, you might miss some of the best photos if you don’t know how to navigate the site. By following these easy steps you can make the most of your search and find the best photos more quickly:
1. Go to flickr.com and log in to the site. (Flickr is owned by Yahoo and your Yahoo email address and password are your sign in credentials for Flickr.)
2. Type your search term into the search box in the upper right corner of the screen and hit Enter. I used “Philadelphia” as an example.
3. You’ll be shown a grid of your search results.
4. Click Advanced Search in the upper right corner of the screen. You’ll be taken to this page:
5. Fill in the information to make the most of your search. You can refine your search by:
- entire site vs. limited
- Safe Search
- Content type: photos, screenshots, illustration art
- Media type: photos, videos
- Usage rights (see below for a discussion of usage rights)
[warning] At the top left side of the results screen is a drop-down menu for searching according to License Rights. Use Advanced Search instead for the most accurate results. [/warning]
Refining Your Search Results
Because of Flickr’s extensive photo collection (did I mention it’s very, very large?), your search results may contain an overwhelming amount of images for you to sort through, making finding the perfect image a bit, well, challenging. The good news is that you can refine your results to further improve your chances of finding that perfect photo.
In the upper left corner of your results page you can see a drop-down menu showing Relevant as the default option. Click on the arrow to reveal other choices:
I especially like Interesting, though the photos often depart significantly from Relevant. Exploring the Interesting photos can take you on a new path, somewhat like Pinterest Guided Search. Of course, one person’s definition of Interesting can vary from yours but generally the photos in the Interesting section are of particularly high quality.
How to Download Flickr Photos
When you’ve found the Flickr photo you want to use, you can download it to your computer, usually with a choice of sizes.
[tip]Note that if you right-click on the photo, saving the image is not one of the choices on Flickr.[/tip]
To download a photo, click on the photo in the grid of photos on your results page to open the photo page. Click on the down arrow with a line underneath it in the bottom right corner of the screen. Choose the size you wish to download.
If you find photos you like you might want to save them as favorites rather than downloading them. If you’ve signed into your Flickr account, you can save photos to your account as favorites.
To save a photo as a favorite, click on the photo to open the photo page. Click on the star in the bottom right corner of the screen to save a photo as a favorite.
To find your favorite photos on Flickr, click on You at the top left corner of the screen and choose Favorites. You’ll be taken to a screen with the photos you’ve saved as your favorites.
Giving Props to the Photographer
In the Comments section below each photo on Flickr you can leave a note to the photographer expressing your gratitude, complimenting the photographer and sharing your thoughts about the photo. If you use a photo in your blog post you can leave a link to your article in the Flickr comments section.
If you use a photo from Flickr, include credit to the to the owner of the photo in your work.
A Word about Usage Rights
Not every photo available on Flickr is available for all uses. Many photos on Flickr are restricted in use, designated by an “All Rights Reserved” notice on the photo page.
Millions of images are available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license, allowing for a broader use of the photos. See Flickr’s Explore Creative Commons page for more information about Creative Commons licenses.
Flickr’s Advanced Search feature helps you avoid the heartbreak of finding the perfect photo only to discover that the license rights don’t match your needs.
Flickr lets you search photos according to the type of license you need. As discussed above, you can search according to Commercial use and whether you wish to modify the photo.
⇒ Make sure when you arrive on the photo page to check and confirm that the license stated on the photo page matches the license rights you searched.
If you find a photo you want to use but the license rights don’t fit how you want to use the photo, don’t despair quite yet. You can contact the owner of the photo to ask for the license rights you need. Often you may not get a reply but you may get lucky and get the permission you need. The owner of a fireplace photo was kind enough to grant me rights to use his photo for my article: Warm Up to a Virtual Fireplace.
NOTE: Although I am a lawyer, I am only providing tech advice, not legal advice in this or any other article at The Wonder of Tech.
Do you have difficulty finding photos to use? Have you used Flickr to find photos to use? Do you like its Advanced Search functions? Have you ever found the perfect photo only to discover that you couldn’t use it because it was limited to All Rights Reserved? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below!