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Susan Kistler on Sites for Free Photos for Great Presentations

Hello! It’s Saturday once again. I am Susan Kistler, AEA’s Executive Director, and I contribute each Saturday’s post to aea365.

On April 15, John Nash gave a very well-received webinar for AEA members on Moving Beyond Bullets: Making Presentation Slides Compelling (recorded and archived for member viewing – see also his April 9 aea365 contribution). A key takeaway was the value of incorporating quality, compelling, photos into your presentations. During the Question and Answer portion, attendees asked about where to find free photos for presentations. Below, I am sharing John’s great recommendation (flickr) as well as two others that I have used. These are listed in order of size – but bigger is not always better, it depends on the type of photo you need.

Rad Resource – Stockvault: This free photo site has almost 20,000 photos in its library. Images may only be used for noncommercial purposes, including presentations, noncommercial websites, etc. The photos tend to be of high quality (although there are some less than outstanding ones) and are well indexed. Proportionally, they appear to depict a broad range of racial and ethnic diversity when people are portrayed. This site includes an extensive and varied category of textures and backgrounds that serve as good starting points on which to overlay text in a presentation.

Rad Resource – Stock.xchng: This free photo site has about 400,000 photos in its library. What makes it stand apart is that each one goes through a fairly extensive inspection and review process prior to being accepted for inclusion. The photos are clean and clear and they are highly indexed and thus searchable by keyword and the keywords are both descriptive (such as ‘girl’) and conceptual (such as ‘idea’). The collection can be uneven in terms of coverage with lots of options for one keyword and few for others, but I have had great luck finding the perfect picture here.

Rad Resource – Fickr Creative Commons: This site, a partition of the broader flickr photo sharing site, includes a huge collection of photos that have been tagged with Creative Commons licensing that allows for public use. It can take a few minutes to understand the licensing issues (some allow only for noncommercial use, some allow for no modifications to the photo, some require specialized attribution), but the repository is HUGE with over 100,000,000 – yes 100 million – photos available. One challenge can be that, even with searching, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. You’ll likely end up sorting through more photos than you would with the other options – but the gems are in there and there are so many from which to choose!

Hot Tip: Always be sure to check out the use and attribution expectations on each site that spell out how you should recognize the photographers and the origin of the photographs.

The above reflects my own work and opinions and not necessarily those of the American Evaluation Association.

13 thoughts on “Susan Kistler on Sites for Free Photos for Great Presentations”

  1. Susan, nice list!

    Its good to see new initiatives on web regarding the photo sharing,world will change for good when we all start chipping bit by bit. I have started a project in which I am adding two photos daily which are handpicked by us and sharing it under Creative Common Zero license. Do check http://www.sketchjar.com. If you like the initiative and encourage us


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  8. Susan,

    Great resources! I’ve used several of the recommendations used by John, as well as from books such as “Presentation Zen” and “Slide:ology” for my own presentations, and they always engage the audience much more. Sure, it takes longer to create your presentations (especially considering Photoshopping some stock photos to blend in more with your presentations), but completely worth it!

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