Stock Photo Guide

Thousands of WashU photos are available for use, and third-party stock photos can work in a pinch.

Original photography isn’t always in the cards. Below are some sources for existing photography that can help you complete the picture.

Think WashU

Before you check third-party stock photos, search the School of Medicine photo collection. Thousands of photos taken by WashU photographers are available for use. You can also check our photos for WashU websites, hand-picked and optimized by our designers.

If these digital libraries don’t have what you’re looking for, our office can search additional photos that aren’t available online. For assistance, email administrative assistant and photo database extraordinaire Theresa Howard at

Remember to credit the image creator or source when appropriate. If you’ve purchased the full rights to an image, a credit may not be necessary. However, if you have any doubt, include the attribution.

Put the credit in the caption field, as shown in this example (recommended format is Photo: Source Name). The image credit may follow a descriptive caption.

A woman wearing a face shield vaccinates a woman wearing blue scrubs and a mask
Joan Niehoff, MD, receives a vaccine against COVID-19. Photo: Matt Miller

Third-party photo sources

Use School of Medicine imagery when possible. When you’re out of on-campus options, try the external photo sources below.

Commercial stock photos

Stock photography companies offer high-quality, rights-managed photos. Choose stock photos that can accurately substitute for actual depictions of your group’s activities. Your business unit must assume the responsibility of all required fees and licensing agreements.

Government images

US government websites provide scores of downloadable medical- and science-themed images. Most images are freely available for use, with proper credit, unless otherwise noted.

Read how copyright applies to U.S. government works »

Open-source photos

Copyright owners may make their images available free of charge with varying degrees of rights for use (i.e., “some rights reserved”). The world standard for this model is Creative Commons (CC), which facilitates distribution of images with specific usage and attribution stipulations. 

If you use open source photos, take care to follow licensing conditions and give credit, following the CC best practices for attributing images.

Web search 

Millions of images are a search away, but many are protected by copyright. Research an image’s origins thoroughly before use, and do not publish an image in print or on the web if you have not obtained permission for its use.

Photos and copyright

The complexities of intellectual property rights are best avoided by using original School of Medicine photos. Even School of Medicine images, if published in scientific journals, may be subject to a particular journal’s licensing restrictions.

Do not use any images without first securing all necessary rights, permissions and licensing agreements. Note that copyright law pertains differently to educational classroom use than it does to general distribution and publication.