Finding Free Photos From Flickr to Use on Your Blog

How to find photos you can legally use on your blog from Flickr

Flickr is a photo-sharing website that contains thousands of photos uploaded by people from all over the world. Some of the pictures on Flickr are free for you to use on your blog. Those photos are protected under Creative Commons licenses.

Flickr homepage

Licensing on Flickr

Before you can use the photos you find on Flickr in your blog, make sure you fully understand the Creative Commons licenses. Once you understand the legalities of using photos taken by other people that have Creative Commons licenses attached to them, you can visit the Flickr website to find photos to use on your blog.

Here's a quick breakdown of the more common licenses you'll find on Flickr:

  • All Rights Reserved: This is an image entirely owned by the creator. You can download it to use for your desktop wallpaper, or something similar. However, you can't reproduce, host, share, or otherwise use it.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial: This one you can use under select circumstances. You can't use the image for anything business-related or something you make money on. You also need to give the original creator credit when you use the image.
  • Public Domain: Public domain images are completely free to use however you like. The creator has put these images out into the world for anyone to use however they see fit.
  • Attribution: You're free to share the image in its original form. You can also modify the image and use the modified version however you like, including commercial purposes. You need to give the original creator credit, and you'll need to specify any changes that you made. You also can't impose any new copyright restrictions on the image.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike: This one's the same as the regular attribution license, but you need to license anything you make by modifying the image under the same license.

You can find the full breakdown on Flickr's license page.

If this seems complicated, don't worry. Flickr offers a variety of search features to help you find photos with the specific types of Creative Commons licenses that apply to you and your blog. You can find those photo search tools on the Flickr Creative Commons page.

How to Find an Image's License

After you learn what each license on Flickr means, how do you find out which one an image has? You can find any information you need on the image's page on Flickr, directly below it. Here's how:

  1. Open a browser and go to Flickr.

  2. Type your search into the field at the top of the page, and select Search photos.

    The Search Photos command on Flickr
  3. Flickr displays the images that match your search in a grid. Select a photo you may want.

    Flickr image search results
  4. Flickr takes you to the image's page, loaded with specific information about the image. Depending on your screen size, you may be able to see the license information below the image. If you don't see it, scroll down past the image to the first line of information. The license is in the upper-right corner of the information section. For the image in this example, all rights are reserved by the creator, meaning you can't use or share it.

    The licensing info on a Flickr photo
  5. Flickr lets you narrow your search based on license. Go back to your search results, and locate Any license in the upper-left corner, above the image grid. Select it, and choose the type of license you want from the menu.

    The license filter in Flickr image search results