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Blog Photos and Modeling for Students the Use of Intellectual Property

In a previous post, I noted that I recently read Starr Sackstein’s Blogging for Educators. In her book, Sackstein emphasized the importance of a blog post including a visual – a picture, infographic, chart, pull quote, video – something. She urges bloggers to make sure a visual is visible immediately within a post — that readers shouldn’t have to scroll down through all text to finally see one.

That’s because visual aids support motivation and learning.

Blank walls are for interrogation rooms. White noise puts people to sleep. And you don’t want to ever have to see a white-coat. That’s never good.

Likewise, mere unaccompanied text on a white page just doesn’t set the right tone for a blog post.

Everyone likes a picture.

But where do I find the right picture for my blog post?

[Simulated classroom pause…]

This is usually where the most fidgety, stubborn, self-professed-tech-expert student presumptuously raises his hand to tell his old, crotchety, 30-something-year-old teacher about Google Images.

I’ve used Bing and Google Images in the past to locate images for my noncommercial, educational purposes. Their Usage Rights tools are great for helping locate photos for possible use, but the message, “Images may be subject to copyright,” doesn’t instill the ease that’s supposed to come with ethical uprightness. (For the record, it appears Google takes strides to maintain credibility in how it labels photos.).

I explain this to the student. The student unhesitatingly says, “I’ve used plenty of photos from Google before. I don’t even worry about using the Usage Rights tool. Nobody’ll do anything to you.”

Uh…No. I respect intellectual property, not just because I’m legally accountable, but because it’s right to respect others’ property and only use for my benefit what is legally useable. And teachers who blog can use this as an opportunity to model ethical blogging and digital-citizenship practices.

But I also don’t like Google Images because of the sheer quantity of unrelated or unappealing quality images.

And now, this is where another hand raises, as the wielder of it, a savvy graphic-arts-trained student who craves such opportunities to correct her ignorant male student counterparts stares down her peer and says, “Mr. Somers, did you know that there are websites that offer free quality stock images for nonprofit uses?”

And there are. Creative Commons-licensed (CC) photos. That’s what your looking for, bloggers.

And now the list. Thanks to for helping me out with locating these resources. I’ve narrowed their list to what I think is best for educators and their students who blog (Some of their links were broken or for unrelated fields.):

The photos in this post were selected using

Maybe you’ll get to use some photos from some of these sites. More importantly, maybe this post will inspire you to discuss with your students the importance of going the extra mile to use images that are CC-licensed for free noncommercial purposes. Ethics are important for students, teachers, and everyone else in society.

Mr. Somers (aka S’mores)


Do you use a similar photo website you’d like to recommend? Do you have insight or an experience to share about the topic? Feel free to share by leaving us a comment.

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1 comment on “Blog Photos and Modeling for Students the Use of Intellectual PropertyAdd yours →

  1. Great post. Images make blog posts better. Thank you for modeling and reminding us of the importance of thinking about intellectual property while choosing images for our posts.

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