Finding Images

Last updated
August 25, 2021

Once an article draft is complete and the story is ready to be published, the words need to be produced into an eye-catching webpage. That's where images become really important. Whether you're working with Massive or on your own blog, here's our guide on using images effectively (and legally) to get your message across. 

The images that go with your story are incredibly important. Here are some tips on image rights that may be helpful for your drafts or for your other science communication projects. At Massive, we try to only use Public Domain and Creative Commons images, with a few exceptions.

  • Images in the Public Domain are available to freely use.
  • Images with a CC-BY license can be used as long as they are attributed.
  • Images under stricter copyright (or unspecified rights) require the author’s permission before publishing. 
    • If you know a science artist or scientist with publicly-posted images, you can ask them for permission to use their images. For example, we used one of Samantha Yammine's Instagram posts, with permission and attribution.

These guidelines generally mean that figures from papers are off-limits unless the paper is open access and the license allows commercial use.

It can be particularly difficult to find images of specific organisms or species. If you have access to high-quality images of the species you are writing about, please let us know.  

Finding free images

Here are some sources for general stock images, including archival images:

If you enjoy photography or have a lot of images related to scientific topics,  you can also upload your photos to several of the sites above in order to make them available to others. 

Inclusive pictures

It's important that we try to reflect the diversity of our writers and readers in our image choices, but many stock images only feature white people. If you find that images in your search results are looking very homogenous, here are a few sources for free, high-quality images of people of color (and other minority groups). Remember, you can use these sources any time -- not just when you're working on a story that specifically focuses on an underrepresented group.

If you have a budget for images, you will have even more options! These are just a few of the free sources we have found. 

Suggesting images for publication

It's really helpful when you suggest images for your Lab Notes and Articles, but remember that Massive staff has the final say on images, similar to our stance on headlines and other editorial decisions. If you have specific images of the obscure species you're writing about, that's even better. 

Take this guide home 

Interested in learning more about using images in science stories? Fill out this form to access a free PDF with more info.