Flickr Guidance

Please Note

Disclaimer: This is EPA Guidance for how EPA uses Flickr. We have posted our guidance publicly in the spirit of collaboration. Other agencies and organizations may use social media differently.

Note: Remember that your official activities on-line are subject to the ethics regulations Intranet as well as other federal and agency laws, policies and regulations. In addition, existing policies and guidance for accessibility Intranetprivacyexternal site links, cookies, and writing style apply to social media tools as well. References to these are included at the end of this document.

On this page:

What is Flickr?

Flickr is an online photo sharing community that EPA has used since 2008 to visually engage the public with our mission. EPA's audience on Flickr is the general public. Once a photo is posted it is available for the world to see.

How does EPA Use and Organize Flickr?

One-way posting of our photos

By posting our own photos of EPA events, staff in the field, responses to environmental incidents (for example, the BP Spill), and the work we do day in and day out, we're able to put a human face on our agency and show in photos our priorities and efforts.

Public photo submissions

EPA administers a few Flickr Groups to engage the public and encourage them to share their photos with us. Examples:

Organization of photos in EPA's Flickr account

Flickr organizes photos in albums known as "sets." EPA sets are organized by the main theme that would make the most sense externally to tell a story about our work. A set might not be about a single region, office, or program, but one that pulls in content from various sources. This approach reflects the One EPA Web principles.

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How to Choose Photos for Flickr

As new photos are added, each will be reviewed according to the question: What does it say about EPA? Each photo will have enough description that it is interesting for the public, informative for the public, and a reflection on why EPA exists.

What works on Flickr

  • Action: Staff in the field, in the lab, taking samples, responding to an incident.
  • Public events: Engaging photos that show EPA in the field or at events working with communities and stakeholders to accomplish our mission. Photos of events should have a strong area of focus, provide context and help tell EPA's story.
  • Equipment: Sampling equipment, environmental monitoring capabilities such as with our Ocean Survey Vessel Bold, our air monitoring aircraft the ASPECT, the TAGA buses.
  • EPA Content: For example: e-waste, stormwater, CFLs.
  • Infographics: Artwork, usually a series, that conveys key points of EPA information in a succinct, engaging way. (Infographics are approved and developed separately from EPA's Flickr process, generally as a part of larger campaign.) Example: Asthma infographic series. Exit

What doesn't work on Flickr

  • General room shots: Photos without an area of focus do not add to the story we're trying to tell.
  • Photos without context: All photos on Flickr need to stand alone and tell a meaningful story about EPA. The description can add some context, but it's better to provide as much as possible in the photo itself.
  • VIP event group shots: This type of photo tends to have a narrow audience and is not interesting to the general public.
  • Multiple similar images: Instead, provide a limited number of high quality photos that represent the story you want to share.
  • Photos not taken by an EPA photographer or staff member, or for which EPA doesn't have rights to use.

What to provide with each photo

Example of Good Quality Photo Content on Flickr (PDF) (1 pg, 121K, About PDF). This screen shot illustrates what to provide with each photo being uploaded to EPA's Flickr site
  1. Title: Provide a draft title with each photo.
  2. More Description:
    • Why: Explain why this story is important to the viewer.
    • Who: List all recognizable people in the photos and their role/title. Identify the groups and/or stakeholders that may be represented and involved.
    • What: Explain what is going on in the photo.
    • Where: Photos with specific location detail can be mapped.
    • When: Date the photo was taken.
  3. EPA web link(s): Links to EPA or other government websites for viewers to learn more information.
  4. Keywords or "tags": List keywords or phrases that can be associated with the image. This allows Flickr users to find our images by topic or location.

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How to submit photos

EPA has a single Flickr account managed by the Office of Web Communications. How to submit photos depends on where you work.

Regional staff

Work with your designated contact:

Headquarters and other locations

Work with your Web Council representative, then send a request to and Jeff Morin (


Coordinate with your designated contact to ensure that your respective public affairs office is aware of the request. This will help to ensure that the proper notifications occur and that we maximize the outreach and publicity that can be associated with the photos.

When you have photos to upload to EPA's Flickr account, please allow enough time for the Office of Web Communications to review the request. Allow as much as two weeks for review and to work with you on any edits. Please don't promise or commit to having the photos in Flickr by a particular date until you have contacted us.

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EPA Accounts


EPA Policy


Additional Resources

  • The Web Guide is the authoritative source for Web sites and applications at EPA.
  • The Social Media @ EPA blog provides answers to questions about social media at EPA.
  • The Information Collection Request Center Intranet describes information collection requirements imposed on the public by the EPA. 
  • Special Terms of Service Agreements have been negotiated with various social media sites that resolve the legal issues with the standard Terms of Service (TOS) users have to agree to when setting up an account.

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