7 Ways to Find Creative Commons Images

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Photograph of Card Catalog in Central Search Room, 1942,  US National Archives. No Known Copyright.

While there are dozens of search engines and repositories for Creative Commons content, Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand has a few favourites. This is what we use for our blog posts, slide shows and educational resources.


This is an obvious and popular choice: Flickr is a massive store of openly licensed photos from around the world. Currently, they have over 220 million photos using a Creative Commons licence. Flickr Commons has also partnered with dozens of public memory institutions from around the world, including NASA, the US National Archives and the National Library of New Zealand, to provide access to archival images.


Compfight is an attractive, easy to use search engine. They make use of the Flickr API, which means that their search results will link back to photos found on Flickr.


Photopin is one of my favourites. As with Compfight, the photos come from Flickr. The tool is incredibly easy to use, and the results page really is quite nice:

Open Clipart

Open Clipart is the world’s largest collaborative community to share, remix and reuse clipart. All of their images are released into the public domain. This means that you don’t even need to provide attribution (though it’s usually good manners to link back to the original).

Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for paintings, drawings or older photography, Wikimedia Commons is your best bet. They have nearly 14 million media files that are either out of copyright or under a Creative Commons licence, including images from major international art galleries.

The Noun Project

The Noun Project are new in town, but they’ve quickly developed a wide range of high quality icons and images for general reuse.

 Digital NZ

We’ve saved the best for last: Digital NZ’s search engine, which provides access to media from dozens of institutions from across New Zealand. If you want New Zealand content, this is the place to go. They also allow you to make shareable ‘sets’ of works you’ve found, to show off your weird and wonderful search results. Here’s a list of the top 50 sets.

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