The ABC of ELT

Legal images for EFL classes (and Blog posts)

When you are creating your own materials (or simply supplementing a Coursebook) it can be really useful to use an image to enhance the material or create and activity for students. Thanks to the internet it isn’t hard to find a great image to use, but if you just do a normal google search you could be breaking the law by using those images. Below are a few useful resources for great quality images which you can use in your materials, or even in a blog post. In some cases you need to credit the photographer, but in others they are completely free to use without accreditation.


Flickr has an incredible wealth of photos within it’s database and many are held under Creative Commons license which grants you permission to use them in exchange for the correct referencing. However, not every photo can be used

Visit it here:


Compfight is a tool which searches flickr and gives you a link to give proper accreditation, it also serves up premium photos which you have to pay for at the top (that is its funding method) but you can simply use the free photos.


#Eltpics is a collaborative project from various ELT teachers around the world to create a database of photos (on flickr actually) which other teachers can use in their classes. All you need to do is give proper accreditation.

#Eltpics also has a blog with activity ideas and you can add your own photos to this database by tweeting your picture and using the hashtag #Eltpics


Unsplash is a tumblr site which puts out 10 photos every 10 days. These photos need no accreditation and so you’ve probably seen them somewhere else on the internet already (it’s a hugely popular site). [Psst, the photo in this post is an Unsplash photo]

Visit it here:

Death to stock photos

Unlike unsplash which hosts every picture online death to stock photography send out monthly emails with packs of free photos which require no accreditation or referencing. You can also pay to receive more photos.

Visit it here:

Morgue file

Morgue files contains a wide selection of photos, some require attribution, others don’t. Generally, the photos aren’t as high quality as some of the other sites but there are a lot of photos on the site so you can probably find some form of photo.

Visit it here:

NOS photos

NOS Stands for New Old Stock Photos. This is another tumblr site but this contains photos which have expired their copyright period and are thus legal for anyone to use. These contain some really interesting older pictures but they are always more dated.

Visit it here:


Picjumbo follows a similar system to death to stock photography where you have both free and premium photos. However, picjumbo is a site where you can download photos rather than an email list. One photo was so good, lg used it as their background to their new phone.

Visit it here:


Another photo site which I believe runs on tumblr. Again these are photos you do not need to credit the photographers to use and are really great quality too.

Visit it here:

The noun project

The noun project doesn’t contain photos but instead has icons. Usually, you can either pay to use the photo with no attribution or use them for free but give some attribution. These are great for creating flash cards.

Visit it here:

Google search

Although a normal google search will bring up photos which are illegal to use a simple selection within the google search settings will provide you with photos which you can use legally in your class room. Simply click on search settings and choose “free to share”.

My photos (As in me Chris Wilson)

I love taking photos on my iPhone and trying to capture great moments. So I set up a tumblr site to host them all. If you want to use them in your classes or blog posts then go ahead. No attribution required but always welcomed if you desire.

Check out my photos here:

Little Visuals

Little visuals sends 7 high res photos every 7 days in a similar fashion to Death to stock photos and Unsplash.

Visit it here:

No excuse

So there you have it, a whole host of sites and tools to easily grab photos and icons to use in your classes and blog posts. There is no reason to illegally use an image anymore with a watermark across it.

Do you know any other resources for legal to use photos or icons?

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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