Finding The Perfect Image

This is a post in response to the Extend Activity 1 in the Curator Module of Ontario Extend.

Finding the perfect image isn’t easy, and a layer of complexity is added when searching for creative commons images. A few years ago I might use an image I found in a Google search because it is exactly what I wanted without any regard for the copyright indicated on the image or the owner’s website. Why? I don’t know really… because I felt that there were no real consequences for using an image found online. I also didn’t know anything about creative commons images or alternatives to copyrighted images. I figured if I threw an attribution (website link) under the picture that was good enough — boy, have I learned a lot about CC, OER and copyright in the past few years!

I teach faculty orientation and additional professional development sessions in our Teaching and Learning Innovation Hub (simply dubbed ‘The Hub’). We have had an influx of international students at our College in the past couple of years so I’ve been researching teaching in diverse classrooms and promoting inclusivity in the classroom, so for this activity I used terms to find an image that I could add into one of my slides in a diversity and inclusion workshop.

I always want to find the perfect image; something artistic, something beautiful, something thought-provoking. I use Unsplash quite a bit, but find that regardless of the boolean operators I use I keep getting the same collection of images. It seems more difficult in Unsplash to narrow down search topics.

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In the example above, you can see that I used three different search terms (students classroom, diversity classroom, and inclusive classroom) and essentially got the same pictures for each term’s results. Even when I added ‘AND’ into the search term, the same pictures resulted. I do like that Unsplash gives you suggested terms related to your original search term at the top of the page, but wish that there was a better way to narrow down the search criteria.

The next website I used was Pixabay. For inclusive classrooms, I received this message: “Sorry, we couldn’t find any images”!! Even when I added ‘AND’ between inclusive and classroom, there were no images found. I found few relevant pictures for my search terms. ‘Diversity classroom’ gave me one picture of a young African boy.

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I do like that on Pixabay I can refine my search using other criteria like orientation, colour, size and category.

I love that artists and photographers are willing to post their pictures using CC for anyone to use — and not even requesting attribution! One thing I find limiting in the CC image landscape is that something I know what I want to use as an image but can’t find exactly what I want. I will use multiple sites and try to find what I am looking for but will sometimes defer to Getty Images if they have exactly the image I had in mind; however, I feel like I’m cheating in the image search race!

I know I still have a lot to learn about this topic and love learning — help me out if you can!

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