If you've ever looked for an image online before, you know that there are millions out there on the web. But, are they the ones you want? How many times have you found what seems to be hundreds of images of a work online, only to discover that they are all just copies of the same, poor quality image that was originally posted years ago by some anonymous blogger? And what about image size? Remember, if you're projecting them in a classroom, you want to get a decently sized image or you will have a mass of pixillation up on your screen. Here are some tips to consider:
Try the library's image collections first.
ARTstor has over a million images, Luna has 400,000. There's a good chance what you need will be there and you will know that the quality will in general be high, the size will be large, and the rights will have already been taken care of.
Is it a work in a museum collection?
Try the museum's website! Museum collections online vary considerably. Some post only a small selection, others attempt to get everything they own up online. Resolution also varies considerably. Some will post only thumbnails while others will allow large sizes to be downloaded. Rights also vary. More museums have recently begun offering their images for free, sometimes just for educational purposes, sometimes with no restrictions.
Is it architecture or public sculpture?
Flickr Commons can be a good place to look for architecture. Some very good photographers post their work there with various degrees of licensing available.
Is the work by a contemporary artist?
Many, if not most, artists now have their own websites. The size of images posted will vary as will the restrictions on use. You must obey the restrictions as set by the artist, but this is always a good place to start.
How can I find large images and weed out the small ones?
Google Advanced Image Search allows you to limit your search by size, color, aspect ratio, usage rights and more.
There are a lot of images on the web that have been posted with no attribution or permission. Using images responsibly is a matter of academic integrity. Please see the link to my page on Copyright and Ethics of Image Use below.
Luna Park, Coney Island. View at night, 1903-14. Luna Collection.
Odano Naotake, illustrator. Johann Adam Kulmus, author. Kaitai Shinsho: Blood Circulation in the Human Body. 1774. Luna Collection.