Finding Flickr Photos

Finding Flickr Photos to Use

Anyone can poke around on the web or use Google to find images, but the re-use of them is highly questionable as a practice. For this workshop, you are asked to use only images that have been Creative Commons licensed with permission for reuse and.or for modification. This page is provided with suggestions on how to find images and will be references from several of the workshops as a reference.

For any image you use, keep a record (in a text file or even on paper) of information for each image:
  • The URL where the image was found
  • The name of the photographer (in flickr this might be the account name)
  • The file name (if you download it-- flickr creates cryptic names)
  • optional- the title of the image

This info will/should be used when giving credit in your re-use of an image.

Upping Your Image Quotient

Hints and tips for finding images you can use, it's a bit more than just keywords in a box.

flickr Creative Commons Search
Keyword search on all photos in flickr that are creative commons licensed. Click the "more..." link in each license category to seatch. You have to know which kind of license to pursue- for any exercise, where we might need to download a copy and make changes to it, use either Attribution, Attribution-Non-Commercial, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, or Attribution-ShareAlike License. If you are just going to use an image or post a blog entry directly form flickr, any category will do- i tend to use the one with the most images -- Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

Let's say I was looking for an image to represent joy or being happy- I might try the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike search on the word happiness.Not bad, some images of smiling kids, etc.

flickr cc licenced photo by Stuck in Customs
Initial search results are ordered by "relevance" meaning closest match to your keywords (it searches titles of photos, the text of captions, and any tags associated with images).

It is sometimes worth clicking the link for "more interesting" which weights the results by how many comments a photo has and how many times it has been favorited. Now compare the results on my search for happiness by re-ordering results by interesting.

This image on the right, is very powerful! Credit goes to flickr user Stuck in Customs

Powerful and fast way to search creative commons license- with options to search on tags or text.

Behold claims to search only high "quality images" from flickr, but uses an image analysis that is more than keywords and text. It offers a feature to search for similar images or ones based on the subject of the image.


Photos For Class
Find photos suitable for classroom or student project use- they use the flickr search engine to find "g-rated" appropriately licensed images (and it looks like they do some curating of those). The downloads provided overlay a properly cited caption onto the image that provides the attribution right in the image.


Flickr CC Attribution Helper
Install a browser bookmarklet tool to generate proper Creative Commons attribution in both text and HTML formats when activated from any licensed flickr page.


Less of a tool and more meant to demonstrate a strategy for finding images for non-literal topics, e.g. things that keywords will not necessarily find. I (Alan Levine) built this using Mozilla Thimble, so it is designed for people to remix, and edit as an interactive worksheet for developing search strategies. It has also been developed as a Teaching Kit with a full set of resources and activities- see Image Seeking for Fantastic Visual Metaphors


TinEye Labs MultiColr Search

A rather creative and powerful search tool; it finds creative commons licensed images based on colors, and not only single colors, but mixtures of colors. This can be useful for finding colors to fit a theme or as just an interesting way to explore photos:

tin-eye multicplor search.jpg

cogdog-watercolor.pngThis site was created by Alan Levine in October 2010, the second incarnation of the original 50+ Ways concept. A 2014 expansion for mobile apps is being co-created with Darren Kuropatwa. Everything here is open to be linked, re-used, re-mixed, re-cast, etc. This particular page was created on Oct 23, 2010 12:31 am and has been edited 7 times. The last tweak was made on Jan 19, 2015 9:34 am by - cogdog cogdog. Share freely, often, and voraciously by linking to