Where to find images

We highly recommend including images in community posts. If you are struggling to find something suitable, here are some ideas on where to start looking

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We recommend including at least one image to upload as the poster, but images in the body of the text are also great. 

Where to find free-to-use images: 

Images in the public domain, images with a CC-BY licence and images that are copyright free can all be used without permission, although acknowledgement of the contributor and/or source is usually necessary. If you are ever unsure about the permissions of an image, check before using it – they are normally given in the image description, or contact us and we can check for you.      

1. Check the image library on your phone 

This is a great, often forgotten, source of free photos. You could have documented field work or lab experiments (and the experimenter!) without even realising it. 

2. The US Geological Survey multimedia gallery for videos, photography and audio

Their image repository lets you explore Earth through photography, including rocks, national parks, earthquakes, climate change, and more. There’s also imagery dating back to the 1800s when the USGS was surveying the country by horse and buggy.

All items in the gallery are considered in the public domain unless otherwise noted.

3. Public Health Image Library 

The Center for Disease Control hosts the Public Health Image Library offering an organised collection of public health pictures, covering influenza, laboratory science, environmental health, natural disasters, microscopy and much more.   

Most of the images in the collection are in the public domain, and can therefore be used without permission as long as the original institution and contributor are credited. A few images are copyrighted and will have restrictions on usage, so do check. 

4. Did you know that NASA has an image library?

The NASA Image and Video Library lets you search, discover and download more than 140,000 images, videos and audio files, including historical images, photographs of current missions, astronomy, Earth science and spaceflight pictures and much more.

As long as NASA is acknowledged as the source of the material, their images can be downloaded and used without permission for non-commercial activities.

Search the NASA image and video library here, and for more information on usage see their media guidelines.

5. Similarly, the National Institutes of Health have an image gallery 

Images posted to the NIH Image Gallery are free-to-use with credit. They have a Flickr site where you can view images and other media relating to NIH research, people, labs, historical events and more. Here’s a link to their photo-stream

The National Institute of Mental Health also has an image library. This is a database of copyright free photographs and illustrations, containing images of biomedical research and research tools as well as images specific to mental health and its treatment.

Search the NIMH image library here.

6. Have you come across Pixabay before?

Images on Pixabay are copyright free and can be used, copied, modified and distributed without permission or giving credit to the contributor (even for commercial purposes). 

Their image categories include: animals; architecture; education; food; medical; music; technology, traffic, and much more. The poster image for this post is from Pixabay.
7. And of course, there’s always Wikimedia 

Wikimedia has over 40 million free-to-use media files.  Here is a guide to using Wiki content outside Wikimedia. 

Be sure to let us know if we have missed anything or if you have any other suggestions. 

Ruth Milne

Past Springer Nature Staff Member, Springer Nature