Earth Day and Public Domain Photo Resources

earth day image NASA 2014
Happy Earth Day — Photo source: NASA

Recently I’ve written a couple of posts that involve the use of public domain photos.  And I just published my second newsletter in a row that was focused on delivering resources for children’s books or children’s products from the public domain.  So it seemed that delivering some resources for great public domain photos of the earth — and even the rest of the universe — would be just the right touch for Earth Day.  Following are two amazing sources of PD photos for your creative projects: NASA and the US Geological Survey.

NASA Photos:

First, I want to recommend NASA as an outstanding source of mind-blowing photos, particularly the galleries at the HubbleSite.  The one above is pretty tame compared to the richly colorful and exciting space photos available in their galleries.  Just be sure to read their terms and disclaimers. While most of their photos are PD, some are not and you need to contact the copyright owners for permission.  Check every one you use to make sure it doesn’t have a copyright on it.  It should be marked.  And don’t forget that it is customary to credit the photographer and source of your photos.  They’ll tell you how on site.

To give you an idea of how beautiful the photos are, here are some examples:

Spitzer and Hubble Create Colorful Masterpiece

The Cat

Spiral Galaxy M83

US Geological Survey Photos:

Next, I recommend the US Geological Survey for its highly professional offerings of photos, especially its landscapes. Many of its pictures will be immediately usable without any editing.  Of course, any public domain photo can be customized and used as you like.  Even if you properly credit the photo, remember to add credits and descriptions for yourself as well if you do substantial editing, remixing or derivatives.  And remember my recommendation of IntensifyPro as a standalone or plug it for rapid editing.  Since many of these photos are ripe for being backgrounds for quotes and other inspirational text, don’t forget that you can upload photos to your account at and make them into great social media shares.

Here are some examples of USGS public domain photos for your inspiration:

How about a sunset on a California beach:

Sunset on a beach in LaJolla
Photographer: Guy DeMeo , U.S. Geological Survey


A rainbow over the Yukon river:

Photographer: Mark Dornblaser , U.S. Geological Survey

Or a gentle forest stream:

Gentle forest stream
Photographer: Cynthia L. Cunningham , U.S. Geological Survey


Go get some of your own.  Make your website beautiful.  Create inspirational posters. Illustrate your ebooks.  Let the government help you be more creative and productive.