Finding Images for Your Website

Harvard Web Publishing has gathered numerous resources you can use to find and create high-quality images for your website. Below you will find sources for images inside and outside Harvard, as well as well as guidelines and documentation. 

Harvard Photography Guidelines

Merlin Photography Database

Harvard Public Affairs & Communications maintains a database of thousands of Harvard images from news stories, events, classes, and much more. Images for internal use by Harvard employees and affiliates can be purchased for $35.00 each, and have unlimited print and digital use in Harvard publications and websites. Download the Merlin user guide (PIN protected) to get started.

Harvard Library Images

Harvard’s libraries contain digital images spanning a variety of subject areas. Use the Visual Information Access System to search for materials. Access to high resolution images is determined by each repository, and is often dependent on copyright. Contact the individual repository that holds the image you wish to obtain for details. View the list of participating repositories.

Public Domain Images

The U.S. Government Photos and Images website maintains an extensive list of sources that provide public domain images (no copyright restrictions), or images that can be used specifically for educational and non-profit purposes. Topics include history, fine art, health and medicine, environment, science, technology, and more. Image sources include collections such as the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, National Institute of Health, and NASA, among many others.

Creative Commons Images

Images that use Creative Commons licensing have less restrictive copyrights. Creators often clear their images for use by others, provided that the image is correctly attributed. Images that use Creative Commons licenses can often be found on FlickrWikimedia Commons, and through Google searches. There are a variety of Creative Commons licenses, some with more restrictions than others. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines for the particular image you choose.

General Stock Photo Sources

Whenever possible, use images that are specific to your department and Harvard. If you cannot otherwise find or produce suitable images, there are numerous stock photo options available. Listed below are some of the more popular, affordable options. When choosing a stock image, keep in mind the Harvard photography guidelines and always choose high-quality images that will truly help communicate your message. Avoid images that are distracting, as well as images that look staged or generic.

Specialty Stock Photo Sources

  • Corbis Images: documentary photography including travel, world culture, nature, technology, science, fine art, archival images, as well as general stock images
  • Getty Images: photos from U.S. and world news events, as well as general stock images
  • National Geographic Creative: world cultures and people, science, landscapes, and animals
  • Custom Medical Stock Photo: medical, scientific, surgical, forensic and health care photos
  • Science Source: physical, life and natural sciences, biomedical photography and illustrations
  • Hunt Stock: positive lifestyle images of people with disabilities, healthcare, Boston icons, seniors

Updated: 1May17