How to Find Pictures for Your eLearning

I am a visual multimedia fanatic (though my blog doesn’t show it because I am usually writing on this blog at work and don’t want to spend too much time on this so as not to draw attention to myself). I truly believe that all eLearning should have some sort of visual presentation. Our culture has become more and more visual, and let’s face it education and learning must be more than just informative. It also needs to be able to not only catch the attention of its audience but also maintain the attention of its audience. Both are becoming more and more difficult with TV and the internet (and even billboards now!) flashing pictures and images in your head if only for brief moments.

So how can I find good pictures? First, open a Flickr account. Second, add your own pictures to it, esp. if you are a graphic artist or a photographer, and be sure to set them to Creative Commons (attribution, or not). But if you are like me, then you may depend on others for good, quality images. Third, download and install Mozilla Foxfire. Then download the add-on CoolIris though CoolIris has developed a standalone desktop application that searches Facebook!

Well, my main tool is CoolIris for Foxfire. I use this to specifically search for images on Flickr though it can be used for Google images, Yahoo! images, Photobucket, SmugMug, DeviantArt, YouTube, and Hulu. However, Yahoo! and Google are difficult to find the original author (though it can be done). I believe Flickr is the best, and I will show you how I do it.

When I find an image that I want on Flickr, I bookmark it by clicking “ADD TO FAVES” above the picture (right above the top left of the picture). Then I email the owner a simple email stating who I work for and what my purpose is for needing the picture. To do this, you simply mouse-over the graphic beside the phrase “Uploaded on DATE by USERNAME” found to the right of the picture, usually square to the top right. Once you mouce over the graphic, click on the down arrow that appears. Then click “Send FlickrMail.” I usually right click and open in New Tab (so I can still see the title/link). Send a basic email stating who you are, what you do, which image you are referring (Title and Link), and ask explicitly to be able to use their photo in your online eLearning. I usually place in the Subject Line: Permission: PHOTO TITLE. Make sure you use the word permission for legal reasons, and if you have a legal department, find out what you need from them to ensure that your company does not get sued.

About 90% of the time I get a standard yes to using it for training and educational purposes only, even in commericial settings. And almost 100% of the time, they are all shocked that I am asking! Many say that simply because I asked, they let me though they are professional photographers and graphic artists! (So in other situations, they would normally charge). However, if any are set to some sort of Creative Commons licensing, you don’t need to ask but be sure to follow the CC license. Most of the people that I have asked, also what to know in what kind of training the picture will be used and if they can have a copy of the training. Usually I tell them that they cannot have a copy of the training but they can have a copy of the section of the training that their graphic is used, except when I make my training available to the public.

Other great places to get good, free pictures are:

Great Free, Creative Commons Search Engines

Great websites for subscription photos:

Picture Search Engines:

  • PicSearch
  • Riya Visual Search
  • YotoPhoto: Under Construction
  • pixsy
  • everystockphoto.com: We are a search engine for free photos. These come from many sources and are license-specific. You can view a photo’s license by clicking on the license icon, below and left of photos. Membership is free, without advertising, and allows you to rate, tag, collect and comment on photos.
  • StockPhotoFinder.com

MASHABLE Photo provides Online PhotoEditor links, PhotoSharing links, PhotoBlog links, and PhotoMixing and Slideshows.

Am I missing any Free Use Photo Sites? What would you add?