Gathering Your Media

Once you begin to collect your pictures, images, sounds and music there are a few things to keep in mind
  • Illustrate and enhance your message 
  • Store your media 
  • Copyright and fair use 
  • Finding the right resources

Illustrate and enhance your message

All media you chose should support, energize or garnish your story. However, too many frills and flair can also take away the power of the message you are trying to convey. Carefully selected media will increase understanding of your story and evoke the emotion you intend.

You may have had some personal photos in mind during the development of your storyboard. This is fine; there is no correct format for storytelling. It doesn’t matter what comes first, the photo or the story, but they should complement one another.

Try this warm-up exercise for your media selection process.

  1. Write down the five most prominent emotions in your story. 
  2.  Pair each emotion with an adjective (descriptive word) 
  3. What object/image comes to mind when you think of each pair? 
  4. What type sound do you associate with these words?

Example:     happy à radiant à sun raysà acoustic guitar

For the purpose of this workshop, we will only use one background music selection for the entire story. My recommendation for this exercise is to establish a central theme for your sound. 

Storing your media

Create a digital folder on your hard drive or flash drive and name it ‘media’. As you begin to collect your photos, images, sounds, music and Power Point slides (if any) save them in the ‘media’ folder. You may choose to use some or all of these objects in your folder. Storing all the files in one location will save time during production. 

Copyright and fair use

The word ‘copyright’ is enough to instill fear in anyone who likes to make digital creations. But, with a basic understanding and the right resources, you can rest assure that you are not violating any copyright laws.

There are extensive articles, guidelines, tables and charts on the Internet all proclaiming different interpretations of what falls under copyright and fair use law. It can get quite overwhelming. That, in combination with the legal jargon of the actual law, might cause steam to come out of one’s ears.

There are plenty of web resources that offer images, sounds and music that you can use for education or personal use without worrying about violating copyright law. These resources are listed for you in the next section.

Easy-to-read information

Finding the right resources

Public Domain

Requires no permission for use of the work, usually the work is ineligible for copyright or the copyright has expired[1]. Any piece of work produced by the federal government falls into public domain[2].

Royalty Free

A person is paid a royalty based on per use/volume purchased of their intellectual property[3]. Royalty free refers to the use of someone’s intellectual property without the need to pay royalties. Some royalty free media can be used without purchase or may require a small fee.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons[4] is a non-profit organization that allows you to search various copyrighted works. Each work is licensed with different rights which are determined by symbols. Creative Commons has a search engine built into it to make it easy to find the multimedia you need. It is also a great place for you to license your own work to share with others.

The Searching For Media section of this site offers many resources for finding media.[5]

Creative Commons (images, music, media)


[1] If published in the U.S. prior to 1923 then it is in public domain.  Visit the “Easy-to-read” link for more details.

[2] If the federal document was authored by a non-government employee then it may be copyrighted.

[3] A creative of the mind

[4] Think of it as a one-stop shop

[5] These are just a few (of 1000’s) to get you started.  Many of the links listed leads to many other sites.