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:
Under the following conditions:
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.