Finding Open-Licensed Pictures on Flickr

If you’re using photo’s or other images in a presentation, newsletter, leaflet, or anything else, then it’s  important to make sure you are using images which you’re allowed to use. The photo sharing website Flickr makes it easy for photographers to license their photo’s under something called ‘Creative Commons‘ which allows you to use their photo for free, usually under the condition that you give them attribution. This post will walk you through finding Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr.

1 / Search and filter.
First, go to and find the search box located at the top right of the page. Enter a search term and hit return, you’ll be then be presented with oodles of thumbnails.

Now, trouble is, not all of these photo’s are licensed under Creative Commons, so we need to filter them.
Next to the search box just above the thumbnails is a link called ‘Advanced Search’, give that a click.

The very last option on that page is about Creative Commons, tick the first option and click Search again to filter your results.

2/ Check the license
Now have a look through the search results and pick a photo you like the look of.
Once you’ve clicked on the photo, on the right-hand-side of the photo page there will be some licensing information. It should look a bit like this:

To find out exactly what you can do with the photo, click on the license symbols.

In this case, I am free to share and remix. So I am able to use the photo for my own purposes (share) and also edit it should I wish to (remix). But I must give attribution to the author and share under the same license if I do remix. And I can’t use it commercially.

If you’re happy with that license, you can click Back to the photo page.

3/ Download
Ok, so now you’re back to the photo page. To download the photo, click ‘Actions’ (top left) and choose ‘View all sizes’ from the menu.

Choose an appropriate size and download!

4/ Use Creatively


5/ Attribute
As a minimum, you’ll nearly always have to attribute the author.
Online use: Photo by rikomatic
Offline use: Photo by rikomatic on Flickr

If your photo has a ‘share alike’ element to its license, you’ll need to include something like this if you’ve edited the photo:
Photo licensed under original Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
(The ‘coded’ license comes from the top of the license page).

6/ Sit back, relax, and feel gooooood
Now, I’ll admit, that did take a little longer than picking something from Google Images. But, you’ve not broken the law; you’ve played fair; you’ve set a good example; you’re not going to land up in a mess when the photographer comes after you; and your comms/PR people will sleep easier knowing they’ve not got a potential disaster around the corner.
Oh, and you probably got a far more interesting picture this way too.

Creative Commons Credits:
Brompton: rikomatic / Flickr
Feel good: Brandon Carpenter / Flickr

22nd May 2012 Posted in: News by Jon Foster
Copyright © 2011. St John's Church, Harborne, Birmingham. Registered Charity No 1132862. Terms and Conditions. User Login. Photo/image credits.