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The Digital Student: - Images & photos

Images and photos

When you leave university, and want to use images in your communications, you will find that most of the images you find on a Google image search are not usable without breaking copyright. Whilst at university, you may be asked to produce a piece of work for public communication purposes, in which case you also need to be aware of the copyright status of the images you use. 

The websites below provide access to thousands of photos that you can freely use in your work. It is important to check the license of each image carefully as some will require attribution and some may not let you adapt the images as you require. It is really important to avoid copyrighted material in anything you intend to publish or share. 

Don't forget - if you are using any images in written academic work or presentations, it is good academic practice to still cite your sources. 

Confused by image licenses? Make sure you check our handy guide

Filtering your web searches for usable images

Most search engines allow you to filter for creative commons licenses and re-use. Check out Flickr, Google Advanced Search, Bing Advanced search and Creative Commons Search.

Free image and photo websites 

These websites offer thousands of public domain and CC0 images that are free for re-use and modification. Check the details of each website carefully as some will need attribution as part of the licence. 

  • Most no attribution needed.
  • Fully searchable
  • Excellent & comprehensive collection

Access Pixabay

  • All photos free to use
  • No attribution required (but it is appreciated!)
  • Searchable, categorised

Access Pexels

  • No attribution needed
  • Royalty free and safe for commercial use
  • Searchable, high quality

Access Picwizard
  • No attribution needed
  • Searchable, categorised
  • Can test-drive images before downloading.

Access Picjumbo

  • Attribution needed for some images – check after selection
  • Basic search functionality

Access Imcreator

  • Most do not require attribution.
  • Searchable.

Access Freeimages

  • No attribution needed
  • Fully searchable
  • Big range

Access Morguefile

  • No attribution needed
  • Some searchability
  • ​Quite arty.

Access Unsplash

Images of Empowerment
  • Attribution needed (all are CC-BY-NC)
  • Searchable/in collections
  • Celebrating women’s lives and their work.

Access IoE

  • Attribution needed
  • Not searchable but categorised
  • ​Most images are quirky with a sense of fun.

Access Gratisography

Noun Project
  • Searchable icons
  • Attribution needed if used over 100px
  • Most basic downloads are free

Access the noun project

  • All photos free to use (CC0)
  • No attribution required
  • Searchable

Access pxhere

Museums and art galleries

UK museum collections increasingly provide digital images which are often free for educational or scholarly use. Check the following websites for more information:

Further culture and heritage images

Some of these images may still be in copyright, so check each website for further detail of how you can use these in your work. Click 'more' under each link for more details of how these images may be licensed for re-use.