What a pain! Finally you grasp this social networking thing, and maybe you have a blog, and now everyone thinks you’re boring because there’s no funny graphics or public health cat videos. Unfortunately, the last time you did artwork was in the third grade, and it was with fingerpaint. What’s a busy public health professional to do? Some of you might reach for stock photographs or royalty-free sources, but many such services can be quite costly to a small organization, and even those that let you pay by the picture can add up. (Please, don’t rip off images you’re not entitled to use or that don’t clearly indicate you can.)
Fortunately you’re not the only one with this problem, and there are now many great options for getting health images, clip art and other kinds of multimedia that you can easily load into your paint program of choice (even Microsoft Paint!) to title and post. The generosity of photographers and artists, as well as work from U.S. government agencies which are almost always public domain, means more choice for you if you can’t ante up for a paid option. Here are some of our picks:
- If you’re into the whole meme craze (and we definitely are; see our previous post on public health memes for blogging), many of the automated meme generators such as Meme Generator and imgFlip out there also have a decent library of available, if not particularly health-specific, images. Some are of questionable quality, and a few of even more questionable provenance (caveat user and mind the NSFW), but if you’re also comedy-impaired there’s quite a few already ready to go and some are hilarious. Here’s a great one we didn’t do that’ll fit your local Purple Ribbon campaign!
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has many great image sources. Probably the best is the CDC Public Health Image Library, or as we affectionately call it, “PHIL.” Whatever you’re looking for, PHIL probably has it, ranging from pandemics and disaster preparedness to everyday activities, environmental health and general interest, and often even at print-quality resolutions too. There is also a decent collection of video. Keep in mind, however, that PHIL includes both federal government originated resources (which are public domain) and images taken by private citizens (which aren’t always), so be sure to read their informative FAQ if you’re not sure about an image you’d like to use.
- (You say you’re looking for something a little more general? The CDC can help you there too: their Healthy Places page has a great list of links to other groups and federal agencies with government photo archives. Many of these are public domain and free to use as well.)
- Not to be outdone, the Pan American Health Organization (a branch of the World Health Organization) has many freely useable images in their PAHO Flickr stream. Although many are specific to PAHO/WHO work, there are quite a few that make nice general backdrops and provide a good source of international images. Almost all can be used by non-profits and for other non-commercial purposes with credit to the PAHO; check individual images for details.
- Need something that’s a little more art and a little less photo? Many clip art sites do have a free tier you can choose from, and some specialize in public domain clip art such as Public Domain Vectors. The quality can vary a bit from image to image, and unfortunately many of these sites don’t distinguish well between health care and public health, but there are some excellent examples on this site and others which can add a little spice to your presentations, posts and images.
- Last but not least, here’s a resource for those of you who both need a source of images and something to give back to. Knowledge For Health’s Photoshare lets you select from a wide variety of primarily world health images which are all free for non-profit and educational use. How do they get these images, you ask? From folks (like you?) who contribute them. Free registration is required for non-watermarked images.
Don’t believe that these can’t be used for professional purposes? Every picture on this blog post came from the sources we recommended.
Cat scratch fever: now there‘s a great public health cat video. Post your other great sources in the comments.