Where can I find vintage photos that you would get at garage sales... online?
January 5, 2012 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find artsy public domain snapshots from the 1960s-1970s (think the stuff you would find in bins at garage sales) that I could use on an album cover? more inside

I'm currently working on an album cover for a friend's band. I've been on the hunt for public domain photos and done the usual google searches & I have been sifting through the library of congress gallery but I'm still not finding what I'm looking for.
Basically what I need is some super vague/ awkward photos from the 1960s-1970s. Think out of focus family photos or pictures of your parents at high school dances. Ideally I would have had months to prepare for this and I would go hunting through boxes of photos at garage sales and thrift stores or I'd take the picture myself but I'm on a super tight deadline.
Any online photo galleries of public domain photos like this?
I obviously would give credit to the photographer or family if I used a personal photo. Any links?

-my first instinct was go to to the site "square america" and talk to the owner about getting permission but that gallery is currently down. I'd love to find something similar
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Flickr - try searches for 'retro America' or 'vintage' - you may have to look up their copyrights on each photo however
posted by infini at 10:43 AM on January 5, 2012

In that timeframe, you might want to dig around in NARA's Documerica project. Public domain stuff in the US specifically in the 70s. Here are the images on Wikimedia Commons (different sort) and here they are on Flickr. The only thing I'd do is make sure that someone else hasn't already taken the photo for an album cover or something, since they are catchy and public domain.
posted by jessamyn at 10:51 AM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

I bought a box of 35mm slides off ebay. I went through around 500 of them and here is a flickr page of the highlights. Enjoy.
posted by rabbitsnake at 10:53 AM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Be really, really careful about this. There are a lot of complicated issues here.

1. Photos from the 60's or 70's - even family snapshots - are not in the public domain by default. You might mean Creative Commons, though that designation isn't at all the same thing - some people stipulate that the images can't be altered or used in another creative work, or used for commercial purposes (an album cover would almost certainly fall under all three categories!).

2. No matter what the source, whether the image is in the public domain, or what arrangements you make, if there are people in the image you open a whole other can of worms. You're honestly better off paying your neighbor's grandpa to use his old photos and then having the subjects sign model releases rather than using something from a government agency - technically "public domain" - where the guy running the ice cream truck in the picture is unidentified. See, for example, what happened to Vampire Weekend on their first album. (Though the details in that situation are a little more complicated.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:43 AM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Flickr - try searches for 'retro America' or 'vintage' - you may have to look up their copyrights on each photo however

The advanced search function on Flickr allows you to search for Creative Commons photos that allow manipulation or commercial use.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:54 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

That was actually Vampire Weekend's second album, not that it matters much.
posted by Clustercuss at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2012

You're much better off looking at Pond5 or istockphoto and paying something for a legit license. Both have "vintage" look sections.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:13 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I took a look through http://www.defenseimagery.mil/; lots of tanks and ships and ballistic missile launches, if you want them, but here's a few closer to your requirements:(As these are works created by employees or officials of the U.S. government they're in the public domain, further licensing details available on that site. Many of them identify the subjects in the picture by name and rank, if you need to get releases signed as Sara C. suggests.)
posted by XMLicious at 12:27 AM on January 6, 2012

The terms of use on Defense Imagery.mil show that these are not in public domain.

The images provided on this Web site are intended for Department of Defense (DoD) personnel who have an immediate need for current DoD imagery.

By logging into the DefenseImagery.mil with a user account assigned to you (either via username and password combination or with a Common Access Card), you agree to the following terms and conditions:

Some imagery may not be cleared for public release. You agree to determine the release status of any imagery you download and to follow Department of Defense policy regarding the release, security and policy review of DoD Information (refer to DoDI 5230.09 and DoDI 5230.29). Public release status for imagery can be found in the "Release Information" data area. Imagery that is CLEARED for public release is annotated with a green border or green text stating the release status. Imagery NOT CLEARED for release is annotated with red borders or red text.
You agree to abide by Department of Defense policy concerning OPSEC and INFOSEC when selecting imagery for use.
You agree to adhere to any copyrights. Copyright information can be found in the XMP data area in the data field labeled 'Rights'. In general, imagery on this site is not copyrighted (cleared for release Department of Defense imagery is usually in the public domain), but if in doubt, you agree to examine the Rights data field for appropriate information. We will make every effort to ensure that copyrighted works are so noted in the Rights field, but cannot be held responsible if the copyright is not conveyed to us for entry.
If you have the right to upload imagery you agree a) to ensure such imagery is property of the Department of Defense, b) the imagery is free of malicious code including computer viruses, and c) to provide us with as much data about the imagery as possible (within Department of Defense captioning guidelines).
WARNING – You are entering an Official U.S. Government System
posted by Ideefixe at 8:42 PM on January 20, 2012

From about halfway through what you quoted there:

In general, imagery on this site is not copyrighted (cleared for release Department of Defense imagery is usually in the public domain)...
posted by XMLicious at 9:28 AM on January 21, 2012

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