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You Paid For It, Now Use It!

As a web or graphic designer, you know that content is king. While most clients have specific designs in mind and provide the graphics, there are times when you need to supply content.  Looking for more sources of high quality photographs and images? This post is for you!

In the wake of the recent government shut down, let’s explore content you have paid for (taxes!) and can use in your work. Many items in the public domain are made available on the websites of federal agencies. Other content on these sites may have very generous usage rights. Do you pay taxes in the United States? Then your tax dollars have paid for this work and you therefore own it. Don’t pay taxes in the United States? The government has so graciously shared this information with the world via the Internet!

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What follows is a list of sites with images available for use. Remember to inspect each image before using it to make sure you understand the use requirements. In some cases, you may need to cite the source when using a photo; in others, the content may be freely available. Some content, for example photos of current currency from the U. S. Mint, may only be available for personal, educational, and non-profit uses.

Go exploring on these sites to discover the full wealth of their offerings!Yellow Coral

American Memory Collection (Library of Congress)

Antarctic Photo Library

Carl Van Vechten Photographs Collection

CIA World Factbook Rara Piscatrix

County Courthouse Photo Gallery

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Earth From Space (NASA)

Images of American Political History Death Valley

National Park Service Digital Image Archive

NOAA Photo Library

NRCS Photo Gallery

Public Health Image Library (Centers for Disease Control)

U.S. Government Photos and Images

Visible Earth (NASA)

Churning Out Stars

Churning Out Stars, ESA/PACS & SPIRE consortia, A. Rivera-Ingraham & P.G. Martin, Univ. Toronto, HOBYS Key Programme (F. Motte)

U.S. Air Force Photos U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Image Gallery

U.S. Department of Agriculture Image Gallery

U.S. Department of State Photo Gallery

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library

U.S. Government Photos and Images

U.S. Marines Photo Library

U.S. Mint Image Library

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U.S. Navy Photo Images

U.S. Secret Service Photo Gallery

Like this list? If you are interested in finding more free images for use in your work, TechRadar has a great article on the 12 best (public) free photo sites on the internet.

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Featured Image Credits:

Antarctic Photo Library Image; National Park Service Image; NOAA Image

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Emily Cantin researched, co-authored and created original artwork for this article.

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