Flickr: The Creative Commons

With a bit of work it’s possible to gather Google images that are free to use. It’s also possible to do the same with flickr, which often comes up in a Google search. If you are going to use flickr it’s a good idea to sign up for a free account (hint – just use your Yahoo account if you have one).

Advanced Search

I’m using the topic Philippines to find images. Before selecting images go up to the Advanced search link (top right-hand corner, and yes it is sort of hidden).



The Commons

If you are looking for old, turn-of-the-20th-century images, The Commons is a good place to start. Images in The Commons come from museums, libraries, and archives. Usually there is no known copyright holder to worry about, but you should still cite all images you use.

Flickr-The-CommonsThe Creative Commons

If you are looking for more modern images:

  • leave the Search in box defaulted to Everyone’s Uploads
  • scroll down to Creative Commons
  • check the Only Search within Creative Commons-licensed content box.

You can now rest assured that the images you find are free to use.


Do the Right Thing – Cite It!

Citing images can be a challenge but look for all the components and do your best:

  1. User name – use the real name if one is provided and role (i.e., Photographer)
  2. Title
  3. Date
  4. Activate share pop-up box
  5. The paperclip icon provides an easy link to copy
  6. This is the actual link – use this link as searching for this image would be difficult from the homepage, e.g.,


SToto98. (2010). Philippines – Palawan – El Nido [Photograph]. Retrieved from


Reference librarian at Bank Street College Library.

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