Posted Jan 26 2018, 1:52 pm

Hi, it’s your VP of Communications, back from the busy for a new post.

Tara Settembre’s presentation at the January meeting was an amazing dive into the ins and outs of social media — especially considering how the field continues to change. One highlight of her talk was how image-driven social media is. But where can you find those images — and what’s the best way to ensure that you’re protecting yourself and supporting the artists whose work you use?

Every year, I teach my students in composition how to use other elements of communication, such as images and sound. Multimodal composition is currently in fashion, and it’s not a surprise: we are all living in an age where words alone are often not enough to attract attention (and paying customers).

But we are also living in a world where piracy — inadvertent or on purpose — is the norm. An artist works just as hard to create an artwork or photograph as we work to create characters and plots. It’s important not to step on others’ work, but to credit them — and to protect ourselves from violating copyright.

One method to do that is to become your own artist, though not all of us are as artistically talented! (Plus, it’s a lot harder than it looks to craft that perfect photo…)

(Credit: Ben_Kerckx on Pixabay, adapted by Darice Moore)

Another way is to look for works that are registered under Creative Commons. Creative Commons generally means the work can be shared, and some artists even grant permission to alter the work — but they also ask that you credit the original artist. Fair’s fair, right?

You can search through Flickr and Pixabay for images, but to find just the right image, the best approach is to harness the power of Google. When searching for an image (at, take a moment to click on Settings in the banner across the top. Select Advanced Search from the dropdown box.

The Advanced Image Search page allows you to refine your search in many ways — size, aspect ratio, color, type — but the one I’m focusing on here is the last in the list: usage rights. By default, this is not filtered; it’s your job to apply the filters. Click the dropdown and select free to use, share, or modify, even commercially.

Ba-da-bing! Your result page will now return ONLY images that are available for you to use, post, and change (maybe by pasting in a quote from your book?), even for commercial purposes.

And about those artists? When you find the image you want to use, take a moment to find out the artist’s name. Often they ask that you leave a comment on their page and/or put a small credit with the photo. Sure, it takes a minute, but since they’re providing it for free, have the grace to comply. Some artists have a link to a payment site such as Paypal or; if you’re inclined, and using the photo for commercial purposes, it never hurts to kick them a dollar or two. (You never know — maybe the artist will be interested in your book in return!)

What kinds of images draw in potential readers? I’m partial to photos of big cups of coffee or tea, but that is possibly because I exist on a pure stream of caffeine. What about you?

(Questions? Send me an e-mail at!)



2 responses to “Image-ination”

  1. Taxdal Connie says:

    Another amazing article and one that’s so useful. Thank you!

  2. Carol Post says:

    Wow, great information, Darice! Thanks for sharing.

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