Do’s and Don’ts of Using Stock Photos on Your Website

Using stock photos on your website is a great way to embellish and present your brand. Stock images make websites and blogs appealing and help create professional looking websites and blogs that stand out. If you are building a website and/or blog, prior to using stock images, you must recognize what you can and can’t do when looking to purchase and/or use affordable stock photos.

Understand the license agreement

The first thing you must do before purchasing and downloading an image from the internet is to know the license agreement attached to each piece of work. The ability to obtain the best stock photos is attributed to paying for a specific licensing use of an image. As a matter of fact, you must fully understand how licensing works in order to avoid a legal battle with copyright infringement.

Most stock photos may be purchased from agencies online. The following are the most common licenses attributed to most artwork:

Royalty Free

Royalty Free images are sold according to pixel size. These files are sold from small to large jpegs, to vectors that can be enlarged while maintaining their quality. The larger the image, the more expensive it is.


Non-exclusive rights allow you to use the image at your own discretion once you purchase it from the copyright owner. This is the most popular license which also falls under Royalty Free images.

Creative Commons

Most of the images found on Google and or other websites are licensed under Creative Commons. Creative Commons allows for universal and international sharing of images provided credit is attributed to the owner/author under its six types of agreements:

  • Attribution, CC BY
    Under this license, images may be disseminated in any manner provided the author/owner is recognized as the original creator.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike, CC BY-SA
    This license allows you to build/expand on an original piece for commercial use as long as the author/creator is recognized as the original creator and the license remains under the original licensing terms.
  • Attribution-NoDerivs, CC By-ND
    Under this license, commercial and non-commercial distribution of an image/work is allowed as long as the author/creator is identified as the original creator and the new work remains under the original licensing terms.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial, CC BY-NC
    This license allows for original works to be manipulated for non-commercial use as long as credit goes to the original creator. You may retain your derivative work as your own.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, CC BY-NC-SA
    Under this license, any manipulations, editions and or additions to the image may not be disseminated commercially; credit must go to the original artist, and new work falls under the original licensing terms.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs, CC BY-NC-ND
    Restrictive use of the image is limited to sharing provided the original creator is credited. Images are not allowed for commercial use.

Be original while using stock photos on your website

When setting up your website or blog, know your brand. The last thing you want is to look like everyone else. This is why choosing the correct image for your blog or site is very important. Take your time to find an image geared towards your audience. There is nothing more annoying than visiting a website that looks like another brand. It detracts from a company’s image and sets a precedent that your product is not unique.

Match image to content

Be mindful when pairing images with your blog or website’s content. Matching the correct image with text reflects your thoughts behind your brand. Applying a visually stimulating image to every new article will ensure your audience sees a new concept each time a new blog is published.

Never use low-resolution

One of the most distracting obstacles on websites/blogs is the use of images that are pixelated and blurry. Sites that post low-resolution images tell readers that they do not care about the professionalism or quality of their material. It is always good practice to purchase high-resolution images that can be resized without the loss of its quality and appearance. Sharp, crisp and colorful images are attention grabbers and are more prone to catching the eye of someone who otherwise would have ignored your site.

Never use an unlicensed image

Although the internet offers a plethora of stock images at your disposal, prior to choosing an image for commercial or personal use, recognize the limitations of the licensing agreement. Just because an image is posted online or found on Google does not mean you have the legal right of ignoring licensing agreements when using stock photos on your website. If you don’t see a license, don’t use it. Chances are the image is copywritten and protected under the law.

About the Author

Kushal is a content strategist for CyberChimps and a passionate blogger. He has a keen interest in analytics and always likes to keep himself updated with the latest news and trends in technology. Loves coffee, listening to music, and playing soccer.

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