Image Sourcing Guidelines and Resources

When sourcing images for department/program websites, newsletters, promotional materials and social media accounts, it's particularly important to be aware of copyright and permissions regulations and guidelines.

Please review the information below if you're seeking to obtain images online, or are looking to hire a photographer or take your own photos. If you have any questions, please contact Scott Haber or Laura Chichisan in the A&S communications office.

Two important considerations:

1. Copyright — owner of the artwork  (eg. photographer, illustrator, musician)

2. Permissions — subject of the artwork (eg. model/students/performers in photographs, video, etc)

  • Requires written consent from the people being photographed or filmed, (including Cornell students) or anyone who is “clearly identifiable” in a posed or formal photo shoot.

  • Does not apply to candid photography in public spaces on campus (i.e. outdoors), or anyone who is not clearly identifiable.

  • Minors (under 18) in photographers MUST have a release signed by a parent/legal guardians.

  • More details and release forms are available here.

General Image Sources

Cornell University resources

Free images (no attribution necessary - though it’s still nice to do)

  • Unsplash — gorgeous photos

    • Institutions on Unsplash — great collections from select institutions, provides ease of mind knowing that the images on Unsplash are free to use

  • Negative space — also very beautiful photos

  • Pixabay — broader selection, photo quality pretty good, but can be mixed

  • PxHere

Free, but pay attention

images may be free to use, but the terms might be different for each image. Attribution may be necessary. See the Creative Commons primer above.

Paid Stock Images

Specialty Image Sources


Science, Medicine

Culture, miscellaneous

  • Europeana — cultural images from European institutions, attribution may be necessary 

  • Library of Congress — great for historical, cultural images (most government media assets are free to use, but there could be some exceptions)

  • International Women’s Day on Unsplash – lots of photos with women of color

Icons and patterns etc.

A&S communications has access to the following. No attribution necessary. Email Laura for access instructions.

Additional Icons

Additional Patterns


  • Slidesgo — Google Slides templates

  • Mixkit — Video resources, including clips and music, free