Finding Graphics, Photos, Art and Videos for Presentations

This month we asked our experts what’s their process when it comes to finding graphics, photos, art and videos for presentations.

Our Panelists:

Mark Rosch (MR), Dennis Kennedy (DK) Steve Embry (SE) and Catherine Sanders-Reach (CS).

What are your favorite places to find graphics and photos for presentations and why?

MR: The majority of the images in my presentations are screenshots of specific websites that I’m discussing. I use Alt + Print Screen to capture them and Ctrl + V to paste them into a Powerpoint presentation.

DK: I miss the days when Microsoft had a very convenient and searchable online resource for graphics. Lately, I generally use my own photos, screen captures and, every now and then, a company’s press resources for photos.

SE: I typically will look to Flickr forts and the stable of commercialize use photos. When this fails I generally think about just using my own photos. With the improved smart phone cameras, this usually works pretty well.

In addition, my firm has been working to create an Image Library to provide us with graphics that have been purchased and licensed to the firm. The library already contains more than 600 images and new images are being added monthly.

CS: My favorite place to get high quality stock photography for free is Morguefile. A morgue file is “morgue file is a place to keep post production materials for use of reference — an inactive job file. This term was popular with newspapers to describe the file that held past issues flats. Although it has also been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well.” Morguefile has a search function, and will simultaneously search in other stock photo repositories like iStock and Getty (most are not free though). Once you have located an image you like you can download it, get the link to it, or with a pro account edit the image directly in If you don’t have a good graphics editor this option is a steal at $25 a year. Wait, edit? Yes, the Morguefile license asks users to remix/adapt the work, use for commercial purposes and accompany the photos with other content. You may not sell/license/rent etc the image without alteration and if you don’t alter it you should use a credit byline. For use in slide decks, especially with text overlays, clips, backgrounds, etc. Morguefile will help make your slides look professional and help communicate your message.

What are your favorite places to find art for presentations and why?

MR: If I need an image to illustrate a concept, generally, I use an image-only search engine like Google images, Yahoo Images, or Creative Commons Search. They quickly give me access to a variety of images that match my terms from a variety of different sources. I also like that they all allow me to filter the results by the usage rights that come along with the image.

DK: I use such a simple approach to slides – often just a few words on a slide – that using “art” doesn’t come into play. If it did, I’d probably start with Getty Images.

SE: See above, I rarely use art.

Have you had to do any editing to graphics/photos/art and what do you use?

MR: Usually, if I just need to crop or add text to the image, I just use the image editing tools in PowerPoint. Otherwise, I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to make any significant changes to the images I find online.

DK: I use the editing features, especially cropping and blurring, in SnagIt for screen captures. I also crop and size in PowerPoint. I keep things simple these days.

SE: Generally for me it’s just a sizing issue. I don’t spend a lot of time editing unless it’s my photo or something I have created.

CS: When I need to edit graphics I primarily use Snagit and/or Microsoft‘s PowerPoint. In my work I do a lot of tutorials, which means a lot of screen grabs. With Snagit ($50 for Mac or Win) you can capture a screen shot (full screen, a portion, etc.) and enhance the screenshots with mark-up tools, annotation, text callouts, blur, etc. While PowerPoint is not a powerful graphics editor, you can alter graphics including recoloring, effects, layering images and grouping to create a single image, and borders. To find some really cool editing options look beyond what is available in the Picture toolbar by clicking on the tiny down arrow in the corner of each Picture tab’s group. For instance, in the Picture Styles group click on the arrow to get more options for transparency, effects, etc.

What permissions do you need to look for when using other people’s art/graphics/IP? What are some things to watch out for? Are there any particular companies that are particularly aggressive in protecting their copyrighted images?

MR: I look for images that are marked Free to share and use, Use for commercial purposes, Modify, adapt, or build upon, Labeled for reuse, or something similar.

DK: You need to be very careful. That’s why I’ve started to rely more on my own photos than ever before. The thing to watch for is a limitation to non-commercial use in the terms and conditions. Often, this term is not defined, but if you are compensated for speaking or people pay for the presentation, you might fall afoul of the limitation. Last year, the NYPublic Library announced that they were making thousands of old photo images freely available. The photos are great and I was well into a slide deck before I checked the fine print in the terms. I decided to take my own photos instead. Cartoonists are especially known for aggressively policing their rights. I never use cartoons and can’t believe when I see others do so.

CS: If you are using graphics from a repository, such as Morguefile, read the licensing requirements and make sure to follow them. If you are using Google or Bing image search you can restrict your search to usage rights in the advanced search to filter image results by options like “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”.  I tend to err on the side of caution, even if the images are being used in a CLE program for educational purposes. You never know when an organization (or attendee) may take it upon themselves to upload your files to a file sharing site or their site – and it has YOUR name on it. Be especially wary of using obviously trademarked images like Mickey Mouse or a company’s logo. For instance, see Google has 10 pages of instruction on using their mark. Also, some companies that sell stock photography, like Getty Images, actively search the web for misuse of their content.

Do you subscribe to any services for graphics/photos/art for presentations? If yes, what features should someone who is going to subscribe to a service look for?

MR: I only need images (that aren’t screenshots) every now and then, so I don’t subscribe to any image services.

DK: Again, for my style of slides, a subscription service does not make sense.

Do you use videos in presentations? If you use videos in presentations where do you find them?

MR: I occasionally use  video depositions that I’ve downloaded from the web.

DK: I like the focus of the audience to be on me rather than a video. ;-) I have pre-recorded and produced short videos of me talking when I could not be present. That has worked really well.

SE: Since I’m a litigator, it’s often testimony or site specific videos. On occasion, I have taken snippets of interviews from Youtube.

CS: Search engines like Blinkx and Bing Video (includes YouTube, Vimeo) let you simultaneously search hundreds of video hosting sites at once. Make sure “safe search” is turned ON. Video should be used sparingly in live presentations since the audience is there to hear you speak, not watch a video. However, a short clip can have great impact. Use only what you need. Tools like YT Cropper will let you start and stop a video just where you want to so you don’t have to worry about the video playing longer than you intend. Be very mindful of licensing and copyright issues with playing a video you did not create in a performance.

If you use videos in presentations what types of issues have you run into when you present offsite (aka outside of your office setting where you know the audio equipment/internet access, etc.)?

MR: The most common issue that comes up when we’ve moved a Powerpoint presentation to a thumb drive or a conference organizer’s laptop. We’re always careful to also copy the video over too so that Powerpoint can still access it on the new device.

Another issue we’re seeing more often now, is when the venue has to convert the HDMI output of our laptops to VGA to connect to their projector. The adapters always handle the video just fine – the problem comes in with the audio. Not every venue has the audio cable (or not one that’s long enough) to also get the audio signal from the laptop. If they can’t connect the audio from the adapter to their sound mixer, we end up over-riding the laptop’s speaker setting (in Windows’ Settings menu) and then just holding the microphone up to the laptop. In Windows 10 this is as easy as clicking on the speaker icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen and selecting the built-in speaker option from the drop-up menu that appears.

DK: Using video adds something else that can go wrong or raise technical issues, especially if you try to show a YouTube video live. The risk/reward ratio has never seemed good to me. Also, obtaining rights to video can be difficult. I’m surprised how often I see presenters use video clips that I’d believe are impossible or very expensive to obtain.

SE: Ahh. A presenters worse night mare. I haven’t had too many issues recently but I always call ahead and make sure the venue has what I need. If not, I’ll bring it ( and sometimes depending on the venue, I will bring it anyway, just in case.

CS: Adding video in Microsoft PowerPoint has two options: 1.) inserting a YouTube link or embed code into the slides which will play from the website that the video is hosted on or 2.) insert a video that lives on your computer. Whether you use option 1 or 2 make sure to let the venue know that you will be playing a video and whether you will need audio so they can be prepared with an audio line and speakers. If they cannot provide that, and the video is essential you may consider bringing your own. If you are using option 1 additionally let the venue know you will need to access the Internet so the venue can arrange for wifi or Ethernet to be available. Make sure to arrive in PLENTY of time to test the equipment in advance of the presentation and be prepared to move forward without the use of the video if things do not work the way you anticipated.

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