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Finding Images: Photography: Search Engines

Google Image Search

Google Images

Google Image Search (GIS) is a great place begin a search when you want to get a sense of the sorts of images out there on any given topic. You may find the perfect image quickly and easily, but GIS has its limitations. GIS searches image names and contextual words on the basis of popularity, so results can be uneven. Additionally, images from sites indexed by Google are frequently too small, of poor quality, have been altered in some way, have insufficient attribution, or are in violation of copyright, making them inappropriate for use. 

Click here for tips and tricks to get the most useful results from Google Images. 


Rosskam, Louise. [Shulman's Market, on N at Union Street, S.W., Washington, D.C.] c.1941-42. Library of Congress. Flickr.

Flickr is an online photo management and sharing software owned by Yahoo! which has expanded from hosting the personal collections of its users to hosting public archives. While many of the images are high-resolution, unaltered, and accompanied by clear copyright information, the quality will vary depending on the creator.  

Flickr is also home to "The Commons," a public photo collection that began in 2008 as a collaboration between Flickr and the Library of Congress. It has since expanded to include the collections of over 45 institutions, including NASA, the Imperial War Museum, and the New York Public Library. 

You can also browse or search one of the many Flickr Groups dedicated to photojournalism, like Photojournalism 2.0.

LIFE Photoarchive

LIFE Photo ArchiveGoogle Image Search includes the LIFE photo archive. Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

Search tip: Add "source:life" to any Google image search and search only the LIFE photo archive. For example: Washington, D.C. source:life.

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