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Step by step guide to finding free photos on Flickr

Updated on July 15, 2010

Find great images for free to improve your online content.

Adding photos to your words is one of the quickest ways to improve the appeal of your hubs and other online content. Even if you're a competent photographer yourself it is likely you'll often find it quicker and easier to search for suitable images for an article you're working on than to shoot them yourself. However, it is important to understand what can be legitimately used without infringing the creator's copyright. If you need to brush up your knowledge you might like to read this hub for an overview of where to find free photos and how you can use them. Don't forget to head back over here when you're done!

Many photographers make some or all of their images available to use for free in return for attribution.
Many photographers make some or all of their images available to use for free in return for attribution.

Free photos on Flickr

Flickr has established itself as the web's (read world's) primary photo sharing site. As such it is increasingly becoming a go to site for anyone looking for images, from professional photo researchers to bloggers searching for pictures to illustrate their posts. However, not every image on Flickr can be legally used without first requesting permission and quite possibly paying a license fee.

This hub is a step by step guide with screenshots to show you how to filter out the images you can't just use and show just the photos that you can easily use for free right away. I'll show you how I found the image of the photographer above in this hub. Here we go ...

1.Here is the Flickr home page with the basic search field. You can see I've searched for “photographer” images.

2. Here is the first page of results I'm presented with. We can't, however, just choose images from these search results if want photos we can use for free as many of these will be protected under standard copyright laws. To fine tune the results we need to go the advanced search page using the link to the right of the search button.

3. The advanced search page has a lot of options, some of which may be useful to you, but we're mainly interested in the final question that allows us to filter out all the images that we can't just use for free.

4. Look at the bottom of the advanced search page. The last options are to search for only images that are available under a creative commons license. These are the photos that can be used easily and legally in your hubs and blogs. As hubs generally include advertising they are considered commercial; so check the radio button for images you can use commercially. Now click search again.

5. We now have a new set of search results which only include images that the photographers/authors have made available under a creative commons license allowing free use including for commercial purposes. The choice will inevitably be narrowed down but I found the image I chose for this hub on the second page of the results; there is usually still a godd selection of images such is the depth of Flickr.

6. Clicking on an image will take you to the individual photo page on Flickr. On here under 'Additional information' (in the right hand column of the page) you'll find details of the license the photographer has chosen to make the image available under. In this case there are 'some rghts reserved', which is a very common choice of cc license (there are many varieties).

7. We can click on the 'some rights reserved' to get more information on what this actually means at the official creative commons website. As you can see we are free to use this image. Essentially the right that is retained is for the photographer to be acknowledged as the author of the work. This is done through 'attribution'; we need to link back to the photo page on Flickr if using the image online and credit the photographer.On hubpages I usually do this by creatng a link capsule for photo credits, as you can see at the end of this hub.

8. Back at Flickr on the page for the photo we've chosen to use you'll find an "All Sizes" button at the top left of the image. Click this to see all the available resolutions of the image that can be downloaded.

9. Most images are made available in a range of sizes from thumbnails through to large files suitable for use in print. For use online I generally choose the medium option which will usually have a long side of around 600 pixels, perfect for use in hubs and blog posts.

It is possible to use images directly from the web instead of downloading and there is a school of thought that this can have some google link juice benefits. The disadvantage I see is that if the image is later removed or made unavailable your link will be broken and the image lost from your content. It is a trade off, but with a small amount of extra work we can get a backlink from Flickr when using a downloaded image too. Here's how.

10. The download page also includes links to information on the creative commons website on the particular license that the image is available under. Check this if you're unsure if your intended use for the image is allowed or not.

11. Finally, head back to the Flickr photo page using the link above the available sizes on the image download page. Once there you need to copy the url of the photo page from your browser. This is the page you need to link back to from wherever you use the photo in order to credit the photographer and comply with the license requirements for attribution.

There you have it. How to find and use free photos from Flickr! Now go and brighten up some of your hubs, and when you've done that read my hub on how to get a backlink from Flickr.


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    • alexhd57 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Glad you found it useful!

    • Missin Behavin profile image


      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the great hub, this is exactly what I was looking for.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      9 years ago from California, United States of America

      Thanks for this information. I wasn't clear on how to use Flickr, I usually use Wikimedia Commons. Very helpful, I will try Flickr also now.

    • miss sugars profile image

      miss sugars 

      10 years ago

      Thank you so much!!! I'm a new Hubber and this is going to help so much! That was a great article, very clear :D

    • alexhd57 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Pleased to help Guys.

    • pinkytoky profile image


      10 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for the info regarding downloading of photos and backlink. I have successfully downloaded photos from Flickr and did the backlink too without much problem.

      Thank you once again for your generosity in sharing info.

    • edwards101 profile image


      10 years ago from Panama City, FL

      great...honestly i did not have the time to figure it out myself..thanks for help!!!

    • alexhd57 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Hhmm, I'm not sure Beth. Are you able to find the file on your machine using the Hubpages upload facility?

    • Beth Ann Reed profile image

      Beth Ann Reed 

      11 years ago

      This was very helpful and I downloaded a photo to my computer but I can't upload to my hub page. Any advice?

      Thanks in advance

    • elayne001 profile image


      11 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Very good article for flickr photos. I also use morguefile for my hubs and give credit in the capsule to them. I'll have to try flickr now. Thanks.

    • alexhd57 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Hi darhackney,

      I simply use the standard hubpages links capsule and title it photo credits.


    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Excuse me , one more question : How do you create a link capsule for photo credits ? I am trying to get a picture for my hub.

      Thank you very much .

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Thank you very much ! Your explanation is very clear !

    • alexhd57 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      You're welcome Ms Dee. All the best with your hubbing!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      11 years ago from Texas, USA

      THANK YOU for teaching me how get photos for my hubs from Flickr! Great help! Now I'll go read your hub about backlinks, as I need help with that, too.


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