Where to find great photos for your post

It is important to include photos with posts to help them stand out, especially the poster image. Here are a list of free websites that you can use to source the perfect pic.

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A nice photo makes a huge difference to a post on the Community. It also makes it stand out more when you share the link on social media platforms life Twitter and Facebook. There is a great article on How to Make your Posts Beautiful and I wanted to add some resources that I use all the time to get good images.

Here is my go-to list of sites to get free, high quality photos. These sites have photos that can be shared under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license which means that you are free to share them however you want and there is no need to provide a link or attribution.


Yes, it sounds strange getting something for nothing. The reason is that the sites hosting these photos sell advertisements so the lower the barrier to sharing their photos the better. It simply means they will get more traffic to their site and more revenue for the advertisers. So, in short, you pay for the pictures by seeing adverts in the sidebar of the site, but they aren't annoying and the pictures are very high resolution.

So, here's the list




Life of Pix

So just jump in and use them. No worries about giving attributing or linking back to the source.

However, there are some great sites where attribution is required so I wanted to go through how I deal with this on one of my favourite photo sites.


Anyone can host photos on Flickr which means there is a huge range of images. The quality and the type vary a lot but there are always gems to be found. There is a range of Creative Commons licenses that apply. I'll explain how to use them using the most common example.

When you go to Flickr, it looks like you have to sign up but you don't, simply enter your search term in the bar at the top.

Link to site: Flickr

Select "Search photos" and hit enter. You'll get a lot of image results, but wait, some of them will be copyrighted and you will be unable to use them. Here's what you do next:

Go to the top left hand side of your screen and click on the "Any license" tab. There are a number of different licensing options depending on if you want to modify the photo or use it commercially. For the community, you just need to select "All creative commons". With this tab selected all the photos will be usable but you will usually have to give attribution. Here's how you check. When you click on an image in the search bar, a page like this will come up.

At the bottom right of the screen, you'll see a link that says "Some rights reserved" - click on it.

You'll be taken to a page that explains exactly what you need to do to use the image.

So,you see that you are allowed to use and adapt the material. However, you must do three things to use them correctly:

1. Give credit and link to the Flickr page.

2. Link to the creative commons license i.e. the the page displayed in the image above.

3. State the changes that were made if any. If you didn't make any changes you don't have to say anything.

So lets put that example in this post:

Image Credit: Manchester Metropolitan University on Flickr used under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

You can see that under the image, I name "Manchester Metropolitan University" and link to their Flickr page. I also explain that it is used under Creative Commons and link to the licence using the license code that is found at the top of the license webpage.

So now all the criteria are met and we can use the images in our posts. If I have a Creative Commons image as a poster image (at the very top of the article) then I normally put the attribution at the bottom, written in exactly the same way.

This is how I work with Flickr but there are many sources of Creative Commons images and the way you can use them in the Community is exactly the same. For example FigShare has a lot of material the you can use under various Creative Commons licenses.

Finally, many Universities have image banks on their website. The one for my University, the Karolinska Institute can be found here. You are normally free to use these photos and photos from any academic institution in the world. Always check what the license is and how you should refer back to it.

If you have any great photo sites that I have missed, please link to them in the comments.

Ben Libberton

Science Communicator, Freelance

I'm a freelance science communicator, formerly a Postdoc in the biofilm field. I'm interested in how bacteria cause disease and look to technology to produce novel tools to study and ultimately prevent infection.