This blog post was written by Jessica Kelly with the Office of Scholarly Communications.

 Like so many small departments on university campuses, the Office of Scholarly Communications utilizes free stock photo sites for a variety of projects – social media and campus publicity/outreach, mostly, but also for presentations both internally and externally. We rely on generous, talented photographers and artists who contribute their work to such websites. The images are wonderful, making our social media and promotional materials attractive. The value of such stock photo resources cannot be overstated. It is that very generosity that has allowed our department, as well as countless others, to be successful in our endeavors.  

Following in that vein of generosity, our department wanted to give back in some way, to contribute or “pay it forward.” We are incredibly grateful that such things exist for the benefit of everyone. In our department, we are aware that everyone sees things just a little differently from each other. Melody Herr, head of the Office of Scholarly Communications, and I both decided to upload various high-quality photography that we have taken, to share on stock photo sites like Unsplash and Pexels. Personally, I love photography – I love taking pictures and viewing others’ photos. Considering the use and enjoyment I get from using stock photography sites, contributing to them myself seemed like a natural fit. My hope in sharing is that others will be able to obtain some use and enjoyment out of my photos, too. For Melody, [she] “want[ed] to be a good citizen and give back to the community.” After posting a few initial photos, she has started to submit even more. “Besides, for me, much of the pleasure of taking photos is sharing them. Posting my favorites on a stock photo site allows me to share some of the beautiful moments of life, she said.  

Photography is not the only medium in which our office has given back. Institutional repository coordinator Cedar Middleton, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and has trained in photography, drawing, and painting, has generously contributed to ScholarWorks@UARK with various adult coloring pages she has created. “I wanted to share my love of coloring,” Cedar said. She is “grateful for the opportunity” to give back to the community in some way and is planning to contribute even more. “I enjoy art, and [this] is a way to share my art and allow others to turn it into their own art… my hope is that other colleagues or students also contribute [so] we can share the joy of coloring together.” 

And our colleague, brand new University of Arkansas Information Systems Supply Chain Management graduate, Paul Forness, has also given back. The form in which he has given back is his software application, Sherlock – an application that aggregates data related to research at the University of Arkansas, like grants awarded & the resulting publications – which is up on GitHub. Paul chose Microsoft-owned open source site GitHub for Sherlock because it is “likely to be stable for many years to come [as a result of its] huge financial backing [and]… Microsoft’s long product life cycles.” Paul went on to say “It really comes down to a belief that free and open collaboration makes things better. Even companies as large as Microsoft have been adopting this philosophy, and they’ve poured a lot of money and time in to prove their commitment.” Paul also stated his self-described “selfish” motives for free and open collaboration: “I like feedback. I know I have a lot to learn, and this sort of environment is great because you can pick a project you find interesting and jump right in.” 

Stock photography is not the only open/free resource that this office utilizes! MarcEdit, Notepad++, and Brackets are just a few examples of resources used by Cedar in her daily work; Paul has an even longer list of resources he uses in his daily work and personal life, including Mozilla Developer Network (MDN), The Odin Project, The C# Programming Yellow Book, Linux, and Vim. I personally use free sources like Canva, Adobe Spark, Slides Carnival, and the University of Arkansas’s Photo Collection, which has a Public Collection category of photos created by others. 

We are willing to bet that you have used or benefitted from open/free resources in your life – the public library is a prime example of such sources. If you have used or benefitted from free software, photography, or other sources, we encourage you to consider giving back. Interested in giving back in the form of stock photography? As a result of our research on which stock photo sites to contribute to, we put together a small guide on our top choices for contributing to stock photos, including information on Creative Commons licenses 

We challenge you to think about giving back. Not only do your voice, eye, perspective, skills, and talents matter, but they are wanted and needed as well! We invite you to share your gifts with the world! 

Stock Photo Sites Infographic