Stock Photography Top Recommendations
Free Stock Images
Paid Stock Images
Stock Photography Sites
Buying Guide and Advice
What Is Stock Photography?
Stock Photography are images licensed for a specific use.
If you have a blog or a website, chances are, you have explored the use of Stock Photography. Stock photos come in handy when you need a visual representation for something on your site but don’t have any images that are good enough to display for that subject matter.
Enter – professional (or professional looking) photographs provided for free or at a cost by sites where you can find the exact picture you need.
There are 5 main types of images you might want to use on your site: Photos, Videos, Vectors, Animated GIFs, and Illustrations.
Click on the + button to read more about any of these terms below:
As defined by Wikipedia: Vectors are computer graphic images that are defined in terms of 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to form polygons and other shapes. Each of these points has a definite position on the x- and y-axis of the work plane and determines the direction of the path; further, each path may have various properties including values for stroke color, shape, curve, thickness, and fill.
Why Good Stock Photography Is Important For Your Business
While a bit cliche, it is true that images are worth, well frankly, even more than 1000 words. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. And, good images make the difference between a website that screams “amateur” and a site that looks beautiful and professional.
A few reasons why you should consider using Stock Photography:
You Humbly Admit Your Photography is NOT Professional Enough – No one is good at everything, so if you are trying to do most things on your website yourself but fail at becoming the next Ansil Adams, don’t despair. Thankfully, there are enough photographers out there who willingly want to supply photos for free or at a minimal cost so that those of us who are not photographically inclined can pull from their artistic talents.
The Law – Hellooo? – Using photos you randomly found on the internet isn’t just bad taste, it’s downright illegal. When the internet was baby-fresh and no one knew how to regulate or monitor what people downloaded, used, stole, distributed from various online sources it was pandemonium (for those of us who remember and maybe used sites like Napster :)), until the law stepped in and started to crack down on infringement rights. Nowadays there are penalties in place for people who randomly grab other people’s copyrighted material.
You Want to Set Your Site Apart – The down side to any of the free stock photography sources is that these are the photos that are used by almost anyone else. However, you probably won’t see any of these free images on popular, successful sites because their design teams make sure they are paying for quality and unique images.
You Need Specific Images – If you actually need specific images of something – like a horse eating a carrot – you probably aren’t going to find this on a free stock image site. You will find horses, and you will find carrots, but to get the horse eating a carrot that will most likely require using a pay-for stock site.
Search Engines are Now Visual – Search engines today, specifically Pinterest (and Google & Bing), have a visual component within their search engine. This means they use an algorithm to determine what the images on your site convey, or the images on your pin. When you have images that are exact matches to 300,000 other images this can detract from your uniqueness factor. Take for example, this visual search below on a free stock image for a Christmas Gift (I happened to use this one as well). You can see that your pin won’t be unique since it visually matches so many other pins.
What To Look For In Choosing Stock Photography
- Style Matching. Do the pictures blend in with the message you are trying to convey on your website? If you have a very feminine site, don’t subscribe to a stock image gallery that doesn’t have a lot of floral and light colored images.
- Quality & Size. Make sure the size of the photo will closely match the frame you are putting it into on your site. Also make sure the quality is good enough that it doesn’t look fuzzy. You should always try to get a picture a little larger than your frame so that it doesn’t lose any integrity when you add it to your page.
- Attribution and Licensing. Make sure you are following any rules or copyright requirements dictated by the site you are using. Some sites will also specify the exact purpose that you are allowed to use the image for, i.e., personal use vs. website/commercial use.
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Stock Photography Common Terms & Definitions
You might hear some of these terms used regarding digital photography:
|Attribution||The requirement for using the image that source credit is given to the photographer.|
|Commercial Use||Using an image for use to sell a product or service.|
|Copyright||The owner of the rights to the photo, video, or image.|
|Creative Commons Zero|
Work that has been dedicated to the public domain – the author has waived all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
|DPI||Dots Per Inch|
|Editorial||An image of a celebrity or place which might have specific usage requirements.|
|Extended License||A license that goes beyond the typical use of an image and can include using the image on packaging or resell items.|
|GIF||Graphics Interchange Format (photos which can be animated)|
|JPG||Joint Photographic Experts Group (the group who created the standard)|
|PNG||Portable Network Graphics|
|PPI||Pixels Per Inch|
|Resolution||Resolution is the quality of the image measured in DPI, typically either 72 or 300.|
|Rights Managed License||The most restrictive of all licenses, these images will typically require very specific allowable usage which can include where the images can be used and the size that it can be used in.|
|Royalty Free License||Once you purchase these images, you are free to use them. However, there are still restrictions on how you can use these images, so make sure you are abiding by the terms and conditions outlined in the license.|
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Tips To Get the Most From Your Photos
✔️ Pay for unique images in your niche. You can get great photos that everyone else can find and probably uses for free on any of the sites that we have listed. If you’re going to pay for images, pay for ones that are unique and specific to what you need them for. If you have a car website, make sure the site you buy from has the images of the cars you sell and ones that you might not see on other similar car sites.
✔️ Check attribution and legal rights. Sites have different requirements for attribution – some just request that you mention them somewhere on your site or give credit to the photographer, while others are completely royalty and attribution free. Even if you are paying for photos, make sure you check what you are able to do with these and that it goes along with how you plan on using the images. For example, you are probably not legally able to resell images you have purchased unless you have purchased images for resell purposes.
✔️ Don’t underestimate your own talents. People love to see real-life images of things you’ve done, especially when it comes to a blog site or an about page where you want to connect with readers on a personal level. While professional photos are attractive and enticing, you don’t have to use stock photos for your entire website, especially if you have some interesting photos of your own. If you just took a pie out of the oven and are planning to blog about how great it tasted, take a picture and post that bad-boy!