How to Find Amazing Images for Your Presentation

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Images are a basic element of good presentations, and yet, unless you know where to look, finding what you want can be frustrating, time-consuming and at worst, impossible.  Today I’ll be sharing some of my favorite sites filled with free images, explaining terms like “royalty free”, and showing you how photo credits work.

Free Image Websites

Juicy stuff first!  Here are my “go to” sites.  (And no, not getting paid for any of these endorsements :) .)

1.  unsplash.com

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According to their website, Unsplash has over 300,000 images.  They are all free, and they are beautiful. You don’t have to sign up or join anything.  There’s a row of general search categories at the top of the page, and a row of related tags under each photo, both of which will help you find what you’re looking for if you’re not sure how to search.

Unsplash makes it easy to give photo credit, which I will discuss in more detail below. When you download a photo, a window will pop that gives you two options. Choose #1  - simply copy the line that includes the photographers name and the word “unsplash” and add it to your photo, as I’ve done in the bottom right hand corner of this photo.   (See below for detailed directions on how to do this).

The downside to unsplash.com is that ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community are underrepresented.  So, for example, if you type in “woman”, most are Caucasian. However, you can type in “Latina woman” or “Black woman” with much better results.  But, if you type in, e.g. “gay wedding” or “same sex wedding” almost nothing comes up. So if you’re looking for diversity, you may not find it.

2.  pexels.com

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Pexels is another great site.  It’s very much like Unsplash, with all the same pro’s and con’s, but with fewer photos - 40,000 as of this writing.  Check it out.

For photo credit, you are given option #1 from above:  simply copy the line that includes the photographers username and the word “Pexels” and add it to your photo, as I’ve done below.

You can also donate to the photographer via Paypal.

3. gratisography.com

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I have something of a love-hate relationship with Gratisography, lol.  “Gratis” means “free” in Spanish, my second language, so I like that. And they have a lot of really goofy, absurd and unusual photos.  If you’re looking for a little comic relief, this is the place! They also have a lot of “normal” photos, but not near as many as the above sites.

My complaint is the rather misleading interface.  The search button at the top of the page actually takes you to Shutterstock, which are images that you have to buy.  Second, if you type in a word that doesn’t have any relevant photos, Shutterstock images come up, and again, unless you’re paying close attention (and not getting excited about a cool image that just appeared), you’re back at Shutterstock.  Sure enough, Gratisography has “teamed up with Shutterstock to provide you access to millions of images.”  

To download, you’ll need to open the photo and save it to your computer.  For photo credit, no suggestion is given, but if you like, you can add the word “Gratisography” to the photo, as shown below.

So, Gratisography is not quite the seamless experience as Unsplash or Pixels,  but with such a large variety of unique and often hilarious images for free, you can’t really complain.

3.  Wikimedia Commons

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Wikimedia Commons is a whole different animal.  It works like Wikipedia in that anyone can add to and/or edit it.  As such, it’s huge - containing over 1 million files! - and is available in multiple languages.  You can also find audio clips and videos here, which I will discuss in a later post. As you might imagine, it’s a little more complicated to use, but worth the effort if you’re looking for something very specific.

“Complicated” essentially means there are many more ways to search than in the previous sites.  If you go to the link above, you’ll see what I mean. You’ll first see all the “subcategories” you can search by, e.g. century, continent, dimensions, and many more.  If you scroll down, you’ll see all the subjects you can search by.

So, for example, I can choose to search by “historical images.”  From there, I can further narrow my search “by country” and from there choose, e.g., Nepal.

Alternatively, you can simply type in what you’re looking for in the top right hand search box.  Type in “women” and you will be astounded at the variety of types of photos that come up, everything from line drawings to historical images to women from across the world.  Type in “Asian woman” and there’s a wider variety than on the previously mentioned sites.

The biggest downside is that many of the photos are not taken by professionals, so they’re not necessarily the greatest.  But in my opinion, what you loose in quality you gain in variety.

When you click on downloaded, you’ll be given several options.  The easiest way to go is simply click “full resolution” and then download the photo to your computer.  For photo credit, copy the “attribution” line and insert that into the photo.

Most of the photos on Wikipedia fall under what’s called a Creative Commons license, which means they are free:

  • to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work

  • to remix – to adapt the work

        Under the following conditions:

  • attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). [Although some Creative Commons licenses do not require attribution - it depends on the license.]

Why go through the trouble of giving photo credit?

One, because you are generally asked to do so when you get a photo for free on one of these sites.  Seems like a fair trade to me. Plus, it’s a way of acknowledging the effort and energy that went into that photo.  It’s a way of saying “thank you.” It’s good karma. If you wrote a book, you likely wouldn’t appreciate people quoting you without giving you credit.  It’s the same idea. I’m not always able to give photo credit, but when I can, I do. Besides, learning how to write text on a photo is a handy skill to have.

If you’re working on a Mac, it takes less than a minute.  Open the photo in Preview, go to Tools, Annotate, Text, and in the Text box paste in the line you copied earlier.  You may need to change the font color so that it shows up better on the photo. I usually stick with either black or white.  If you’d like, you can reduce the font size. Then drag it to a corner and save.

In Powerpoint, insert a photo, click back on the home tab, click “text” in the ribbon above.  Click on “arrange” to bring the text box to the front and type in the credit. Adjust the font to a small size and change the font color to white if the black doesn’t show up.   To move the box to a corner where it’s not intrusive, click inside the bordering box, and then click on one of the edges with the 4 point star that comes up, and drag the box to where you want it.

In Windows, you can follow the directions here.  

What about “royalty free” photos?

Unfortunately, royalty free does not always mean that you can get the photo for free.  Sometimes It means that once you buy it, you can use it for pretty much anything without paying royalties, i.e., more charges depending on how it’s used.   Whether you have to make that initial payment seems to depend on the site where you find it.

Time well spent....

Dedicate some time to becoming familiar with these websites and the technical aspects of using images.  It’ll be well worth the effort and save you a lot of frustration in the long run. If you found these links helpful, hit a share button and make life easier for your friends.

And, if you have a slide deck that you’d like to get some feedback on, go here and we’ll get right to work.