Photos are essential for creating powerful, engaging and persuasive slides, but you need to find the right ones. The secret to finding free images and photos is to know how to use Microsoft’s tools effectively and where to look on the Web.
But you can’t legally take any photo you want from a website! Most photos are copyrighted. Therefore, you need to know how to get and use photos legally.
You often see sites offering royalty-free photos, but you have to pay for them. That may be the way to go if you want the largest selection to choose from. At the end of this post, I’ll give you my recommendation for low-cost photos.
Find photos in PowerPoint–this is no longer available
Many people don’t know how to find photos in PowerPoint.
- Choose Insert> Insert Picture > Clip Art or Insert tab>Clip Art/Online Pictures. The Clip Art task pane opens. In PowerPoint 2013, a window opens.
- In the Search box, enter a keyword to search for. For example, enter sky.
- In PowerPoint 2003 and 2007, click the down arrow of the Search In drop-down list to specify where you want to look. You can leave Everywhere check box checked to look on your , in MS Office collections, and on Microsoft’s Web site.
- In 2003, 2007 and 2010, click the down arrow of the Results Should Be drop-down list. Here’s the secret. Uncheck everything except photographs. In PowerPoint 2013, add the word photo after your search term.
- Click Go and you’ll get only sky photos.
Find public domain photos on the Web
You can find lots of photos, especially beautiful nature photos, that are in the public domain. This means that you can use them for any purpose, private or commercial. You just can’t copyright them, since they in the public domain.
One site with a great collection — and an excellent explanation of what public domain means and what to watch out for — is PD Photo.org. This site has gorgeous photos that you can use. Here’s a beach picture:
The U.S. government has 3 sites with extensive collections of great photos:
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a great library of water photos. Here’s an example:
You are supposed to give them credit as in, “Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.” Of course, you don’t want to do this on a photo that you use as a background for a slide, but you put it below a photo or even on your last slide in a bibliography.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pictures/Graphics site has lots of great photos and drawings. Here’s an example:
They request a credit such as the following: Credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- NASA has an extensive photo collection, but it’s not very easy to search and many of the photos are taken for their technical characteristics, rather than their beauty. Nevertheless, you can find some great shots. The main site is at http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/.
Try their Earth from Space page. Here’sa great photo of noctilucent clou ds (they also explain what those are). They also want you to acknowledge NASA as the source (as I’m now doing).
Free photo sites
There are a number of other sites that offer free photos, with varying rules about how you can use them. Some are sites that let photographers contribute their own photos. Be sure to check the license–there’s usually a page that explains it. In some cases, each photo has a license description.
An excellent site is freeimages.com (formerly stock.xchng). This is a huge, well-trafficked site. You can upload your own photos, and find zillions that you can use. The site is easy to search, as well. You need to check the allowed usage for each image.
Another site is morgueFile. It offers free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits.
ImageAfter lets you search by category or color. These photos are free for most uses.
RGBStock is a website with a collection of free images. It’s searchable, too.
Picdrome contains a small collection of free photos. They aren’t searchable but are categorized.
CJO Photo is another website with free photos that aren’t searchable but are categorized.
Do you have a favorite site for legally getting free images? Leave a comment!