Monday, February 8, 2021

Picture Perfect

By Stephanie Bearce

Do you have photo phobia?

If the thought of permission rights and photo archives gives you cold sweats,

If the words “author to provide photos” makes your knees shake,

If you hide under your desk when editors ask, “Do you think you could find a few pictures?”

You probably have photo phobia.

Never fear help is here! Finding the perfect picture for your project is easy if you know where to look. And it doesn’t have to cost your entire advance!

Many nonfiction publishers want the author to provide the photo images for their projects. While this may seem a bit intimidating, it also allows you as the author, to have more control over the look and feel of your book. Plus looking through old photos is downright fun!

Before you dive into the delightful rabbit hole of image research there are a few terms you need to understand.

Copyright – the protection of a person’s intellectual property that gives the creator the exclusive rights to publication, distribution, and usage rights. In the United States the creator owns the copyright throughout their life and for 70 years after their death.

Public Domain – Those works whose copyrights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable.

Creative Commons – an organization that helps make creative work available for others to use and share.

Royalty-free – This does not mean FREE to use. It means paying a one-time fee to obtain the rights to the image, then you can use it as many times as you like. You do not have to pay royalties each time you use it.

When you select an image for publication use, it is important to know what rules go with the picture. If it is under copyright, you will have to pay for copyright use from the owner. This can be expensive but may be necessary to get the exact image you want. Royalty-free images are usually less costly because it is a one-time fee and attribution to the artist may or may not be necessary. Images that are in the Creative Commons are usually free but may require attribution to the original creator. Just make sure you check out the rights agreement. And finally, the lovely world of public domain is free and does not require any attribution to the original creator. But it is a nice courtesy, from one creative to another, to give credit where credit is due.

If all that legal talk just made you feverish, don’t panic! Your editor, agent, critique group, and nonfiction friends are available to help. If you aren’t sure - ask!

Here are my three favorites, courtesy of the Library of Congress.


 


British Library – Thousands of images digitized and loaded onto Flickr.

Flickr Commons – public domain images from libraries and museums around the world

From Old Books – pictures, engravings and extracts from – you guessed it - old books.

Getty Open Content –public domain art images – constantly adding new images.

History Archive – public domain historical images

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs – images from the Library of Congress – now in public domain.

NASA – images from space for use by the public. Guidelines included.

National Library of Medicine – images of medicine from the 15th century to the 21st. Not for the faint of heart!

New York Public Library – searchable database of items digitized from the NYPL

Public Health Image Library – some pictures require a strong stomach…but great microscopic images!

Smithsonian Open Access – 2.8 MILLION images available to download free of charge

Scienceimage - photographs and micrographs which are free to download and use as long as you give the original author credit.

United States Geological Survey -volcanoes, rocks, fossils, national parks

Unsplash – great site for modern images – good for websites.

Wikimedia Commons – millions of images that are either in the Creative Commons or public domain.

ACTIVITY 

Now for the fun part! Take a look at these wonderful sites and see what inspiration you can find today. My challenge to you is to find three pictures that make you want to know more. Is there a scientific discovery behind that photo? Is there a story of bravery and courage? Is there a book waiting to be written?

And if you’re willing – share your favorite photo treasures in the blog comments or on the NF Fest page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Bearce is the award-winning author of 28 nonfiction books for children, including the NSTA-recommended TWISTED TRUE TALES FROM SCIENCE series. An educator with 25 years classroom experience, she is a frequent presenter a literature festivals, libraries, and conferences. She is the winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, the SCBWI WIP Grant, two-time winner of the Missouri SCBWI Mentorship Award and the winner of the Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Award. Stephanie writes for the Nonfiction Ninja Blog, Curious and Creative Blog, and a proud member of the Nonfiction Chicks who sponsor NF Fest.

 


 

157 comments:

  1. Great basics and image sources - thank you! I can’t wait to dig into these collections!

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    1. Have fun! I find inspiration whenever I start digging into old photos.

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  2. These are terrific resources, Stephanie, thanks for compiling them this way!

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  3. That's for clarify the different photo rights and for listing all the great links.

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    1. It can get confusing, but finding the right photo is like winning the lottery!

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  4. Look at all those resources! This has been a very useful post for me. Thanks!

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  5. Thank you for the links, explanations and fun activity!

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  6. Thank you for these valuable resources.

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  7. Wow. This is awesome. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. I'm glad you found it helpful. Hope you find some great photos!

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  8. Thanks for the sources. I already looked at a few and found some very interesting photos.

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  9. Thank you so much for this information and list of sources. I’m new to nonfiction. All my other manuscripts are PB fiction and I wondered about photo copyrights.

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    1. Welcome to Nonfiction! Hope you find some great photo treasures.

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  10. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this outstanding post with valuable resources.

    Suzy Leopold

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    1. You're very welcome. I am always inspired by looking through photo collections. Hope you find some inspiration, too.

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  11. Oh my, thank you for explaining and providing the links to the rules and the differences between image publication rights. And now for the fun part!

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    1. I'm hoping you find a photo to inspire your next story!

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  12. Thanks Stephanie for your great resources, links, and sharing your knowledge of the sometimes confusing portion of the rights. It is like digging up buried treasure! Look forward to checking your book titles out!

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    1. Hope you have fun hunting through the photos. It's like mining for gold!

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  13. I never even thought to look through old photos for inspiration. What a great idea and what a collection of resources you have provided! Thank you!

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    1. Photos are also a great way to engage young readers. I hope you find a lost treasure!

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    1. You're welcome. Thanks for beng a part of NF Fest!

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  15. Wow! this is great information. Thanks so much for sharing with us :>)

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    1. Thanks for reading! I hope you find a lost bit of history that will inspire your next project.

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  16. Wow, Stephanie, this post is full! Thanks for all the resources. I've searched about a bit before I commented here. There's so much looking around to do! Thank you again!!!

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    1. Photo research is so much fun! And I promise you will find some stories you didn't know about...

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  17. Thank you. Can't wait to explore!

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  18. Such a useful topic, and fun too! Thanks for the great info, I can't wait to work on this later today. It will dovetail with my current research project. Thanks

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    1. Good luck with your research! Hope you find the perfect photo.

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  19. Thank you so much for this. I especially appreciate the list of sites to visits. I've used the Library of Congress, but am glad to see others that I can peruse and get ideas from.

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    1. The Library of Congress is amazing! Take a look at the Smithsonian site - I think you'll appreciate the collection.

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  20. Thanks so much for the great explanation and for sharing all these sites! I will be exploring them all!

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    1. Have fun! I hope you find inspiration for your next project.

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  21. Thank you for this valuable reference on images, Stephanie!

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    1. You're so welcome. Hope you find some useful links.

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  22. Thanks so much, Stephanie! Great resources!

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    1. Hi Amy! Hope all your projects are going well! Hope we get to see each other again, soon.

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  23. Thanks for the great list of resources.

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  24. Wow. I thought I knew a thing or two about finding photos on the internet from my corporate job. You have opened up a whole new world of image searches! Thanks for this great list of photo sites!

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    1. I hope the sites are helpful. I love poking around and finding old treasures.

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  25. Wow, Stephanie! Your list of places to find photo resources is a gold mine. Thank you for sharing this treasure!

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    1. You're very welcome! I hope you find the perfect pictures for your projects.

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  26. Thank you for the detailed explanation of the different photo rights and the awesome list of photo sources! I'm partial to the Library of Congress (so many to browse! citations are usually included!!) but am looking forward to checking out the others.

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    1. I love LOC, too! what a treasure. Hope you enjoy the other sites. We are so fortunate to have access to these photos. Makes for great inspiration.

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  27. Stephanie, thank you for taking some of the mystery out of finding photos! Your tips and list are gold. It's fun to visit and explore each of them.

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    1. Hope you have fun with the sites. It's like a treasure hunt - without the pirates!

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  28. Photo phobia is a total fear of mine! Thanks for the info.

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  29. Photo pobia is REAL! Hope these sites can provide a little bit of therapy. :-)

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  30. Thanks for such a treasure trove of information about the complicated world of photo images. Your post will prove to be quite helpful and will relieve much anxiety. Your fun activity is also very much appreciated. Can't wait to see what it inspires!

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    1. So glad you found it helpful. I hope you find a history gem waiting for you to polish it!

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  31. Thank you so much for this article and these resources!

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  32. Thank you Stephanie. I'm a learner and you're a Ninja!

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    1. Oh - I'm a learner, too! But I'm happy to share what I have picked up along the way.

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  33. Thank you! This article brings together my love of writing and of photography, both new and old! I greatly appreciate the clear explanations of the different types of copyrights for images, the treasure trove of resources, and knowledge of what might be asked from an editor. I’m definitely not Photo Phobic and excited to explore the resources!

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  34. Thank you for the great exercises with finding photos. Your resources will be handy if I ever get to that point of finding photos.

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    1. Have fun exploring the photo archives! And you WILL get to the place where your editor regularly asks for your help with pictures. Education and persistence always pay off.

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  35. Thank you! This article brings together my love of writing and of photography, both new and old! I greatly appreciate the clear explanations of the different types of copyrights for images, the treasure trove of resources, and knowledge of what might be asked from an editor. I’m definitely not Photo Phobic and excited to explore the resources!

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  36. You are so fabulous, Stephanie! What a great list of resources!!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! Hope this can help you with one of you many stellar projects.

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  37. Thank you, Stephanie, for your energy and guidance in this world of possibilities. Your links provide an amazing treasure hunt. And just looking at these photos whets the appetite for more information. I could be in there all day!

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    1. I could spend waaaaay too much time on picture research. But it can lead to some wonderful new ideas!

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  38. Fantastic information! Thank you! I use many pictures and really needed this topic!

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    1. I hope you find the perfect picture for your porject!!

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  39. What a great research resource! I will be saving this post. Thank you.

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    1. So glad I could help! Hope you find some great inspiration in the photos.

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  40. Wow! So MUCH great information. Thank you so much.

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    1. You're so welcome! Hope you have fun researching the photo archives.

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  41. Your post is one I’ll return because it is so very helpful. Thank you!

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  42. I am so glad I could help. Hope you have great publishing success!!!

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  43. Thanks, Stephanie! I love looking at sites like these. I find them very inspirational. So much to look at and think about. :)

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    1. Aren't old photos amazing?! I hope you find a seed for your next story.

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  44. I'm always looking for photos for blog posts, articles, etc. so thank you for adding to my favorites (I love the Smithsonian site and LOC)! For general, great quality free-to-use photos, I use Pexels.

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  45. Fabulous list and clear explanations! So useful! Thank you!

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    1. Glad you found it helpful. Good luck with your projects!

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  46. This was part of my old job and I loved it! People are very receptive to having their photos being on anything public. Unless they are a professional photographer, they rarely request pay and only attribution-rightly so!

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    1. Yes! Family and townspeople are often great resources for photos. I've found so many interesting pictures in family albums and most are very generous with their collections.

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  47. I had no idea we had access to so much free photos. I used to be so scared to use them but now I realized I should be using them more to educate more!

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    1. We are so fortunate to have access to a treasure trove of images. Using them in the classroom is a great way to make history come to life.

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  48. I actually enjoy searching for photos and can easily tumble down the rabbit hole! Sometimes it's a challenge, like for my bio of Henry Bergh, who founded the ASPCA 150 years ago. I did find a nice selection (paying for most out of my advance); it was fascinating to see how much NYC has transformed!

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    1. Oh, that sounds like such fun research! I'll look forward to reading your book.

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  49. Thank you for the wonderful list of illustration resources. I had bookmarked a few of these but your list has many more to try!

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    1. So glad you found them helpful. I hope you have fun diving into the archives.

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  50. Some of these sites I've used, but many I've never heard of. I use Pixabay.com for my website and as inspiration for my flash fiction pieces. What a wonderful group of resources.

    Great post!

    Donna L Martin

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    1. Pixaby is great, too! I should have put it on the list. And what a creative way to use pictures. I enjoy reading flash fiction. I'll be on the look out for yours.

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  51. whew could've used this about a month ago when I had to find photos for some atlas pages. But still super helpful !!

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    1. Wow! That sounds like a really interesting project. Hope the sources will help for your next book. :-)

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  52. GREAT list of resources. I also note credit in books that I'm using for research. I've connected with a number of places for additional photos that I might otherwise not have found.

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    1. Thanks for reading. I am always amazed at what treasures local historical societies have stashed in their archives.

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  53. Thank-you. This is a wonderful list. I love NASA and have subscribed to their site. They send updates to my email: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/NASA/FMfcgxwLsKBvdFffzDpBdQqjfDFCcHXs

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  54. Isn't it wonderful that we get to see all these amazing photos of the cosmos? I'm with you! Space nerds unite!!

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  55. I haven't really thought about photos for my stories, so thank you for this very helpful post, Stephanie!

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    1. Have fun looking through the archives. I bet you find some inspiration. :-)

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  56. Thank you so much for this informative article! I have been looking at the NOAA Photo Library for weather photos, and your explanation helps me understand their use restrictions. It looks like a good source. https://photolib.noaa.gov/

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    1. NOAA is a good source with some great photos. Best wishes for a successful project!

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  57. Thank you for your clear guide to photo permissions and for the incredible list of image sources! Here is a photo that makes me want to know more:
    https://www.si.edu/object/cat-eakinss-yard:hmsg_83.66#

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    1. I love it! I hope you have fun and find inspiration in the archives.

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  58. Love your post Stephanie, thank you. I used to be the one who would cringe about obtaining photos when writing my biographies! Thanks for all the resource links, some of which are new to me. Brava!
    I don't have a photo to share, but I did find an interesting piece of information on the Library of Congress for my next proposed subject. My best to you!

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    1. Hi Julie! Glad I was able to be a bit of help. :-) Wishing you HUGE success with all your projects.

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  59. Thank you so much for this amazing resource list and the activity! I was going through photos on USGS site, and I was reminded of a story idea I had ages ago but forgot to write down. Now I've captured the idea again!

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    1. Yay! I hope your ideas soon turns into a published book. :-)

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  60. Very helpful information! Thank you, Stephanie!

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    1. Thank you for reading and participating in NF Fest.

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  61. Ooooh, thanks! Such useful info.

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  62. Stephanie, thank you for such great resources. They are a treasure trove of images. I really appreciate your comment regarding Creative Commons work to "give credit where credit is due." It is a courtesy we should be extending. Thanks!

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    1. Totally agree! It is so generous of people to share their work, we should always give them credit.

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  63. Amazing list of resources - thank you for such a helpful post!

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  64. I'm so happy to hear that it is encouraged for author's to use photos in NF publishing, as I can't wait to produce the visuals for my current projects. Thanks for the sources as well as defining the terms. I couldn't add my photos directly but you can search the internet for Martin Old Dog Cross and Chief Old Dog. My grandfather and great-grandfather respectively.

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  65. Thanks for sharing! And good luck with your project.

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  66. Thanks for sharing the info, and I found TONS of photos for use and inspiration. I know where to come back! (Must narrow choices, so as to not get stuck in the looking, but oh, what FUN it can be, right?

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    1. :-) Sometimes a little too much fun... I'm easliy distracted!

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  67. What a WEALTH of resources! You just saved us tons of research for these links. THANK YOU!!!

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  68. This is an awesome list of resources and an explanation of copyright. Thank you!

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  69. Thank you for demystifying the whole process of acquiring (and paying for) photos, something I haven't done, yet, but may need to do soon. And thank you for providing this fantastic list of resources! I've put them into my research files for future reference. Cheers!

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    1. So glad it was helpful. Hope you find lots of photos for your future projects.

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  70. What an interesting, refreshing, and at the same time frustrating time I had navigating through the Wikimedia Commons website. I have, yes, in fact, found the three pictures that I would want to know more on--posted on NFFest Facebook page. The hunt was worth it! I love the pictures I found! Thanks for the assignment!

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    1. Wiki commons is a little clunky, but there are so many great dopyright free photos that it's worth the pain.

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  71. Thank you, Stephanie! Your post is a treasure! I think I will create a scavenger hunt. LOC, USGS, and Unsplash sites are bookmarked. No excuses now for not finding a photograph that will spark a story.

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  72. Thank you, Stephanie! Your post is a wealth of information. Several of your suggested sites are new to me - Scienceimage and From Old Books sound like fun rabbit holes to jump into.

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  73. Thanks for the wonderful resources! I book marked it for future easy reference!

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  74. GREAT resource list...thank you! I see many rabbit-holes in my future!

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  75. WOW, this list is impressive! Bookmarking for future use--and many thanks!

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  76. Stephanie,
    I'm so into words that I haven't used the power of photographs to inspire my creative process. thank you for sharing these links.
    Sue

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  77. What a great list of places to find photographs! Thank you for this!

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  78. I've been a photo editor in my day job for decades and I still learned a lot of great sources from your post. Thank you so much!

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  79. Thanks so much for this quick mini-course in photograph use--it's a little less scary now.

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  80. THank you for providing the cure to photo phobia.

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  81. I definitely need photos for a project I'm working on. Thank you for all of the links and the fun Activity Challenge. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie!

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  82. Stephanie, thank you for your post! It contains a trove of useful information in utilizing all the wonderful stories contained in photos.

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