05 Sep 2017 : Stock Photography

A single candle flame in the dark.

I really enjoy the style of conference talk which is a very small number of words over a large number of beautiful pictures, but oh my god it can take a long time to find the right images. For example, I spent more than an hour trying to illustrate the idea of “emergency disaster supplies” with a picture that wasn’t visually noisy, was ok to be be used commercially (my talk’s not commercial, but my employer is), and wasn’t licensed as CC-SA (because I can’t release my slides under the same license). I was happy with the one I found but wow that took a lot of time.

The holy grail is when you get a picture that doesn’t require attribution, because then you don’t need to overthink how to put extra words on the slide without distracting from the message.

It’s easy to see why people avoid using pictures, and I love watching talks made entirely of big splashy text-only slides. Having a single thought in a huge font on one slide jumps out – it’s incredibly effective at focusing the message – and it’s fun to photograph and tweet about the talk. I want to try writing a talk in that style some time, but I haven’t done it yet. For now, some sites I use for pictures:

Pixabay, pxhere and pexels all have tons of images that are licensed under CC0, i.e., no attribution required.

Unsplash has fewer images (or at least my searches have been less successful there), but the ones they have are really gorgeous. They’re CC0 as well.

Flickr and Google Image Search let you limit your search for usable images, but neither of them can narrow the search to exactly the set of licenses I need. They’re both still very useful; you just need to do a bit of extra work to make sure you can use the image. Flickr’s particularly good for odd things that you’re sure someone must have pointed a camera at some time, but you just can not find it. Google often uncovers good stuff from wikimedia. In both cases, they almost always need attribution.

Google Photos’s magical text search and automatic upload from my android has occasionally found the perfect picture taken by me in the past that I’ve completely forgotten about.

Finally, if you want images of people coding, having meetings, or misc other tech work, two great options are the #wocintechchat archive and the Jopwell Collection. Both are free to use with attribution.