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Copyright-Free Images for Student Work

by Lori Gracey
copyright-free images

Finding copyright-free images for students, or teachers, to use in their digital projects can be a challenge. And yet we know that the addition of images to any project is important for learning and retention. TCEA members and staff had some recommendations recently in the Community for where they go to find exactly the right, free, legal picture.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • New Old Stock Photos – This site has a number of vintage images that are great for use in history, sports, and science. The images from WWII and NASA are particularly wonderful.
  • Unsplash – If your students need beautiful, artistic images and photos, they’ll love this site.
  • Photos for Class – This is a free website that allows students to search for and download images that are safe to use in schools with the Creative Commons license. And it has an automatic citation tool that comes with each photo.
  • PxHere – While a terrible name for a site, the photos in this collection are stunning!
  • Google Advanced Image Search – Teach your students how to use this powerful tool. It gives you enormous flexibility in tailoring your search results. In addition to specifying the image’s color, size, and file type, you can choose Filter Explicit Results to block inappropriate pictures. You can also specify the usage rights to include various levels of reprint permissions. Once you have set the parameters, a search bar will appear. Fill in your search terms and note that the toolbar at the top of the window shows your image preferences for that search. You can easily adjust these settings for a new search using the toolbar’s drop-down menus.
  • FindaPhoto – Rob Lora from ChamberofCommerce.org describes their tool as a ” free tool for easily searching through millions of stock images.” 
  • Freepik– This is a great website that offers free stock photos and other images, icons, templates, banners, clip art, etc. you can use all year long.

TCEA members are a brilliant, sharing, collaborative group of educators. And they had some great recommendations for sites to find just the right illustration or photo.

  • Kristin Robinson of Palmyra-Macedon Central School District recommended Pixabay. Not only does it offer stunning photos, but it also has copyright-free videos.
  • Amy Gwizd of Dearborn Public Schools offers Pexels, another site with both images and videos.
  • “The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released 375,000 images from the Met Museum for free… I imagine some of these will not necessarily be appropriate for all ages, though,” says Jonah Juarez of Hudson ISD.
  • From Randy Rodgers of Seguin ISD comes the site Creative Commons and their search engine.
  • Matthew Kitchens of Burleson ISD offers this advice: “NASA content – images, audio, video, and computer files used in the rendition of 3-dimensional models, such as texture maps and polygon data in any format – generally are not copyrighted. You may use this material for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits, computer graphical simulations and Internet Web pages. This general permission extends to personal Web pages.” Read the specifics from NASA Media Guidelines here. Here is NASA’s Image and Video Library.”

And finally, if you’re looking for even more sites that are usable by your students, our own Miguel Guhlin has an exhaustive list of not only photos, but also audio, fonts, videos, and editing tools. And he’s created a Wakelet that you can add to, or, if you have a free Wakelet account, you can make a copy of.

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