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How To Use Flickr's Advanced Search To Add Creative Commons-Licensed Photos To Your Blog Posts

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I love to add photos to blog posts. Choosing the right image can add to the feeling of the post... or can help emphasize the point of a post. Sometimes, they can just help visually break up what would otherwise be a big wall of text.

When you want to use a photo for your blog post, though, you can't just go grab any random image off the Internet.


As a photographer myself, I'm very acutely aware of this. I don't generally mind my photos being used by others, but I don't, for instance, want someone to take a photo of mine and start making money off of it.

So I pay close attention to the license associated with the photograph. And if there isn't a license on the photograph, 99% of the time I will move on and find some other photo to use. Occasionally I may find one I really want to use and so I may contact the person who posted the photo.

For blog posts, I typically use Flickr to find images, and through the Flickr Advanced Search I can nicely find photos that are licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses. Here is what I do...

1. Go To Flickr Advanced Search

First step is to go to Flickr's Advanced Search at:


I use the site so much that I have created a button on my bookmarks bar in my browser so that it is always available.

2. Enter My Search Term

So yes, this is sort of "DUH!", but it is a step in the process...


There are obviously other options you can use to further filter your search.

3. Choose to Search ONLY Creative Commons-licensed Photos

Now here's the trick... scroll down to almost the end of the Advanced Search page and find the Creative Commons area:


Check off the box as I've done in the photo to only search for photos with Creative Commons licenses (see Flickr's explanation).

Now, for my own blogs, which do not run any kind of advertising and in my mind are "non-commercial", that's generally all I do. However, when I am searching for photos to use for one of Voxeo's blogs I go the extra step to check off "Find content to use commercially":


I may not need to do that... I mean, I'm not using the photos in a printed Voxeo marketing piece, or as part of a direct sales effort or email blast. But in the spirit of the license, Voxeo is a commercial company, and so I'd prefer to just keep it simple and find photos where the photographer is okay with someone using his or her photos in a commercial setting.

I also don't generally modify the photos, or use them in a collage or other work, so I don't typically check off that second checkbox... but it's there if you do make modifications to photos.

With the relevant checkboxes checked, you can just hit "Search" and start looking at the resulting photos...

4. Continue Searching

After you have gone to the Advanced Search page once and initiated a search, notice the Search box at the top of the results page:


You now do NOT have to return to the Advance Search page and instead can just enter new search terms in the search box and you will find more Creative Commons-licensed content.

All in all I've found this a very smooth way to work and am very pleased that Flickr offers us this option.

5. Attribute The Image In Your Post

Week 52/52

Flickr credit: kirstea

Once you've found your image and inserted it in your blog post, the remaining task you need to do is to actually go ahead and attribute the image to the photographer.


All of the Creative Commons licenses require attribution, so if you use a CC license, you need to give credit back to the licensor of that image.

Now... HOW you attribute the image is usually left up to you. But not always...

IMPORTANT: Sometimes photographers will have very specific instructions about how they want the attribution. They may want you to use a certain name (like their professional name) or link back to a specific web address. You need to look in the description of a photo on Flickr to see if there are specific instructions.

Without specific instructions (which is probably 99% of the time), I generally just link back to the Flickr page for the photo. For me personally, most of the time I only have a single photo in my blog post, and so I just put a link at the bottom of the post like the one you see at the bottom of this post.

If I am using multiple photos, I might then have a list at the bottom, or I might do what I've done with the small photo in this section and put the credit directly under the image. A few little <div> tags can make that easily work. (You can look at the HTML source of this page to see what I've done.)

I used to do that for all the images I used, but then I found that because I put the image first in my post, the "credit" text was showing up first in the description for the page in Google search results... which didn't make much sense. So I've chosen to move the link to the end of the page.

I also use the Flickr HTML code to insert the photo (rather than using a screen capture of the photo), which means that someone clicking on the photo itself will be taken directly to the Flickr page of the photographer.

This is how I would want people to link to my photos... so that's how I do it.

You can put the attribution text and link wherever makes the most sense for you and your site and text. The key is just that you DO include the attribution somewhere.

With all that... you should be in business with adding Creative Commons-licensed photos to your blog posts!

NOTE: To make this simple for me, I've added a couple of macros to MarsEdit, the blog editor I use, so that I can just easily drop in the code into my post that has the image attribution text or link. It may be something to consider if you have a blog editor you use.

Image credit: tk_five_0 on Flickr