The Internet Life of One Photo

I wrote about this on my personal web site but thought that the GovLoop community might be interested. In a nutshell, an artist found a photo I took and used it to help him finish a painting. He was able to do this because I had my photo online and I had assigned it a Creative Commons license. The photo (of an Arizona landmark) that I posted to Flickr got picked up by Wikipedia, which led to the painter finding it.

Here’s the story:


I thought this whole process of discovery was pretty interesting, that a simple photo I took could end up having this interesting life on the internet. When I took the picture on that hot April day, I never expected that a painter would make use of it several years in the future.

How is this relevant to GovLoop? Government has some amazing photos packed away in drawers, or hidden on web sites, that should be made accessible to the public. If we can have a data.gov, why not a photo.gov? Imagine what a great resource that would be to the nation. It could lead to all sorts of unexpected new discoveries and products, like my one little photo did, but on an exponentially larger scale.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply


I couldn’t agree with you more. My students were very interested in the picture posted by NASA. It makes their work more realistic to urban students. It is difficult finding authentic images of the people and products discovered and created within governmental agencies.

Joe Flood

The usa.gov search engine works very well but doesn’t include all photos available. Maybe it could be expanded to be more comprehensive. A friend of mine at NOAA also points out this image library from National Marine Sanctuaries:


Lots of cool coral reef pics. Having contributed a little bit to this project, I’m glad it’s online but fully aware of the challenges of developing a web product across government agencies!