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Research Guides@Tufts

Multimedia Production Guide

for the Digital Design Studio at Tisch Library

Image quality

When looking for images to include in a multimedia project, it is important to be aware of how resolution and compression can impact the aesthetic of your piece.  Resolution is the number of pixels running horizontally and vertically in your image.

The standard resolution for a project that combines video, image and audio elements is HD (1920x1080).  If you don't want your image to have artifacts, make sure the files you download are at least 1920 pixels x 1080 pixels.  Using Advanced Search functions typically allow you to narrow your results by resolution. 

Stock photos

Sites listed here contain downloadable stock photos with open licenses that you can freely use in your projects. Be sure to double-check the terms of the license for anything you want to use to see what you can do with it and how to credit the creator.

  • Anthro Illustrated - free digital illustrations of diverse anthropologists for non-commercial use
  • Burst
  • Disabled and Here - free and inclusive images celebrating disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC)
  • Images of Empowerment - a library of images celebrating women's lives and their work in 11 countries around the world
  • Iwaria - free African stock photos 
  • Nappy - high-res photos of black and brown people for free
  • Pexels - images of people are predominantly white, images of nature and technology
  • Pixabay - images of people are predominantly white, images of nature and technology
  • Queer in Tech - free and inclusive images celebrating queer folks in tech spaces
  • Stock Photos Beyond the Binary - gender diverse stock photos
  • Unsplash
  • Women of Color in Tech Chat - images of women and non-binary people of color in tech

Image libraries

Image libraries listed here contain photos & illustrations from a variety of sources. Some are out of copyright or openly-licensed, and some are under copyright and would require a fair use assessment before use. Be sure to double-check the terms of the license for anything you want to use to see what you can do with it and how to credit the creator.

Starting points - large general image libraries:

  • Artstor -  a wide range of multidisciplinary content from some of the world’s top museums, artists, libraries, scholars, and photo archives. Most images are licensed for educational use, some are available for free reuse - check the Rights and License fields for each image.
  • Google image search - after running a search, click the "Tools" button, and use the “Usage rights” drop down to select desired reuse rights
  • Flickr - after running a search, use the “License” drop down on the left side of the results page to select an appropriate Creative Commons license for your use
  • Openverse - searches millions of Creative Commons and public domain images from a variety of sources
  • Wikimedia Commons - most images are freely available - check the source and licensing terms of each to confirm

Image collections - arts, culture, and history institutions:

Note that this is a sampling of large image collections from libraries, museums, and archives. Many other institutions also have digital collections. Browse the Artcyclopedia for a directory of museum websites, or get in touch for assistance locating collections at institutions not listed here.

  • Europeana - after running a search, see the “Can I reuse it?” filter on the left side
  • Flickr Commons - images from a variety of cultural institutions with no copyright restrictions
  • The Getty Open Content - images from the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute with no copyright restrictions
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs - check the "Rights Advisory" field on each image to see the copyright status
  • New York Public Library Digital Collections - after clicking in the search box, check "Search only public domain materials"
  • Smithsonian Open Access - nearly 3 million 2D & 3D images from the Smithsonian, in the public domain
  • VADS - images from over 300 art & design collections in the UK. All are free for educational use, some may be Creative Commons-licensed or be in the public domain, check the Rights field
  • Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) - after running a search, see "How Can I Use It?" filter on the left side
  • AM Explorer - digital primary sources in the social sciences and humanities, licensed for educational use. Note that this also contains content other than images, but you can see visual content in each collection in the Media or Visual Resources sections

Image collections - science & health:

  • Emilio Segrè Visual Archives - rich in portraits and snapshots of modern American physicists, astronomers and geophysicists but includes many other scientists as well as photos and illustrations of laboratories, telescopes, accelerators and other instruments, objects and places. See Rules for Use and Publication for more details.
  • Images from the History of Medicine - collections of the U.S. National Library of Medicine from the 15th to 21st century. Most are in the public domain. See the Copyright field to confirm.
  • MedPix - free open-access online database of medical images, teaching cases, and clinical topics
  • PhyloPic - free silhouette images of animals, plants, and other life forms with Creative Commons or public domain licenses
  • Public Health Image Library (PHIL) - uncheck the "Copyright Restricted" box under Image Types
  • SMART (Servier Medical Images) - high-quality medical illustrations and images shared under a Creative Commons license
  • USDA National Agricultural Library Digital Collections - see the "Rights" field. Most should be government publications and available for use with attribution
  • Wellcome Collection Images - after you run a search, choose "Licenses" in the Filter By menu to choose a license appropriate for your work

Finding images in books & journals

If you can't find an image in a digital collection, you might locate the image you need in a text source.

Some collections of public-domain digitized texts include:

You can also do a keyword search in library catalogs to locate print books that have images that can be scanned. Tisch has free scanners available for use.

To improve your search, include some typical keywords such as "pictorial works," "photograph," "exhibitions," etc. in your search. See the following examples:

  • mexico and  "pictorial works"
  • architect* and photo*
  • architect* and exhibition*
  • fashion and (pictorial or exhibitions or photography or plates or drawings)
    • Note that * is used to find photo, photograph, photography, etc. 
    • Note that () are used to group together similar terms.