Copyright Free Photos for Teachers

by | Feb 2, 2020 | Tips & Tricks

Finding copyright free photos for your school projects just got easier


By Susan Jerrell, TOFT Founder

Copyright free photos are a must for teachers and students. In July, Unsplash launched Unsplash for Educators, and it is an educator’s dream. 

Are you tired of thumbnail size images or searching for copyright free photos to no avail for your presentations and projects? If so, give Unsplash a try.

As a journalism teacher, I was fanatical about teaching students how to find and use images that were free of copyright and was the go-to copyright guru for my colleagues. It wasn’t always an easy task to find suitable photos, but Unsplash is a great tool to use.

Agencies join forces with Unsplash

drug resistant salmonella

Unsplash has joined forces with organizations such as NASA, NYPL and NOAA. The New York Public Library, Library of Congress, CDC and the United States Geological Survey, among several others, have all contributed to this educational cause. The photo here is from the CDC, one agency that has partnered with Unsplash. This slide shows drug resistant salmonella.

There are 10 collections in Unsplash for Education including: space, education, math and science, tech, health, nature, politics and current events, geography, art and history. 

Free for commercial and noncommercial use

In addition to the curated education sections, teachers and students can also browse the search bar by topic and find the perfect photo for any project. All photos are royalty free and can be used for commercial or noncommercial purposes without asking the creator’s permission.

All photos are copyright free and have been donated to Unsplash. When you download an image, you are given a link to copy so you can give the owner credit. While it is not required, it is a courtesy because it encourages photographers to continue sharing and helps them gain exposure for their work. 

The Unsplash license states, “Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.”

New York Public Library photo from 1930s migrant workers.

I know, it sounds too good to be true. But the great thing is these beautiful images really are copyright free photos for your use. This photo depicting migrant workers in the 1930s is provided to Unsplash by the New York City Library.

High quality images

Another great feature about the photos is that they are all high quality. This means you will not have to worry about pixelation in your presentations. Unsplash claims to hand review each submitted image to insure quality. 

Unsplash was originally created by people who were tired of not finding the photos they needed. The archives are added to daily, so if you do not find something you want today, that doesn’t mean it won’t be there in the future. With over 1 million options, you should be able to find something for most of your needs.

Unsplash works because over 150,000 photographers have joined the community and generously shared their work. As a result, you and your students have beautiful images to use  in your projects and presentations for free without violating copyright laws.

As a frequent Unsplash user, I can attest to the quality and the variety of photos available. If you have not used Unsplash before, hop on over and begin your project with copyright free photos!


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We’re glad you’re here, and you will be too! Time Out For Teachers is devoted to providing educators with the support they need to face the daily task of teaching, loving, and inspiring our young people. Created by teachers for teachers, you will be able to find inspiration, positivity, tips and tricks, laughter and a supportive community of like-minded people.

Susan Jerrell, TOFT Founder


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