Graduate Theological Union

Finding the perfect image

meditation chamberby Justin Tanis | The right image invites viewers in and helps them deepen their understanding of the subject; it also helps students who learn best visually. There are some great sources for publicly available photographs that are free to use and that keep you on the right side of the copyright laws. Here are some strong sources:

  • The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog: The digitized collections from the Library of Congress are available on this site. Many of the images can be downloaded or you can request the image from the library. Most useful for historical and political topics in the US.
  • Flickr: The Commons: Created in partnership with the Library of Congress, this collection is much broader and includes a wide range of images from around the world. Use the "advanced search" feature (linked in the upper right after you do the initial search) and check the box marked "There are a large number of photos and illustrations focused on religions. Sort categories include relevance, recent and interesting. Beautiful and professional quality images of a variety of sizes.
  • Newspaper offices used to have morguefiles, where unused photos were available for use in a future story; the same applies here. On this website, you can find a wide range of pictures that are free for you to use and downloadable in large sizes. The advantage is that all of the pictures are available for your use and in high resolution, but the quality does sometimes vary.

Enjoy! The photo above is by Trey Ratcliff and is entitled, "Meditation Chamber." Click on the image to see a larger version and find more information.

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