Understanding when you can or can't take or use a photo is a complex topic made even more complex by our status as government entities. We are in the process of developing an official guide to help agencies navigate this topic.
Browsing images via a search engine is a quick way to find thousands of results, but often times it can be difficult to determine the copyright of what you find. A safer route is to use websites specifically designed for professionals looking for photos. These websites often house higher resolution images and include detailed copyright information to help you determine how you can use the images you find.
Some websites copyright every image and require you to pay per image. Two popular such websites are istockphoto and shutterstock. Don't be afraid to pay for a few images when you have a specific need. Spending a couple dollars on a high quality image is more cost effective than spending an hour drudging through thousands of low quality, copyright unknown images elsewhere.
A second option is to use websites that specialize in cataloging images with Creative Commons or public domain licenses. Creative Commons licensing is often used by artists who want to share their works for free as long as they receive credit, and images licensed under Public domain essentially have no copyright and are free for anyone to use for any purpose. Having a basic understanding of Creative Commons and public domain will help you navigate these websites. Three popular websites for finding images with these licenses are Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, and Creative Commons.
Large image collections can be time consuming to manage and inefficient to browse. We highly recommend using image cataloging software to manage large image collections. These software offer a single place to view images scattered among different folders and have advanced search functionality to make it easy to organize and browse thousands of images. For example, Google's Picasa software has built-in facial recognition, allowing users to search images simply by typing in the name of who they want to find. It also incorporates metadata, so users can tag images with relevant search terms. While there are many solutions on the market, we have found Picasa to work well for general users. Alternatively, those that use Photoshop on a regular basis might want to consider Adobe Bridge instead because of its integration with other Adobe products and robust file format support.
Many agencies utilize Adobe products for their image and graphic need because the state has an enterprise level contract with Adobe to license their products at a discounted rate. Adobe offers a wide range of products, the most relevant of which are Photoshop (used primarily for editing photos), Illustrator (used for logo design or other instances where vector graphic are needed), and InDesign (used for creating publications, such as an annual report or brochure). These can be purchased individually or as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. While Adobe products are commonly used, agencies can utilize any software that best suits their needs. For example, GIMP and Paint.net are commonly used free Photoshop alternatives.
This is the first meeting of agencies interested in developing an enterprise digital asset management solution for image, video, and audio assets.
The Enterprise Communication Service provides agencies with access to communication resources and training. Also part of this service is managing the official State of North Dakota web portal, which provides citizens a single point of access to state government's online services.
This initiative is published in the 2017-2019 Strategic Plan and slated for completion during the 17-19 biennium. More details will be posted as the 17-19 biennium approaches