Stock Images – Best Practice Guide

Stock images are a godsend to content creators & website owners alike. See the best practice usage guide for stock images

By Claudio Pires
Updated on July 12, 2024
Stock Images – Best Practice Guide

Stock images are a godsend to content creators and website owners alike, especially when embellishing online and offline collateral. Some are free. Others come with a price tag. With so many options, it’s wise to learn the ins and outs, which is when a best practice guide comes in handy. In this article, we’ll see the best practice guide for stock images usage.

Check the Licensing

Not all stock images are available for immediate use, so reading up on the terms and conditions associated with the imagery you choose is essential. There are three main types of stock photo licenses. These include public domain (PD), royalty-free (RF), and rights-managed (RM). However, it’s easy to download a stock image and upload it to your website for free.

Editing or passing the image as your own work is an entirely different story. A commercial license will be required when adding imagery to commercial work, such as web adverts or articles.

Legal Considerations

Using stock images responsibly involves understanding and adhering to licensing agreements. Here are some fundamental legal considerations:

1. Licensing Types: Stock Images Usage & Best Practice Guide

Stock images come with different types of licenses, each with specific usage rights and restrictions. The most common types are:

  • Royalty-Free: Allows you to use the image multiple times with a one-time fee. However, it doesn’t mean the image is free of cost.
  • Rights-Managed: You must pay based on specific usage parameters, such as duration, geographic location, and medium.
  • Creative Commons: Allows free use of images with certain conditions, such as providing attribution or using the image non-commercially.

2. Read the License Agreement

Always read and understand the license agreement before using a stock image. Ensure you comply with the usage terms, including any modification, distribution, and commercial use restrictions.

Using stock images without proper licensing can lead to legal issues, including copyright infringement claims. Only use images from reputable stock image providers to avoid potential legal troubles and adhere to the licensing terms.

Choose Wisely: Guide To Stock Images

Don’t pick the first image you set eyes on! Imagery says a lot about your brand and your brand’s story, which is why it’s key to choose wisely. Think about colors, themes, and styles and try to create a consistent flow of imagery instead of various mismatched mediums, which will appear confusing and messy.

Don’t Pick the First Image You Set Eyes On

The first images to appear in the search are generally the most used when browsing stock imagery. If you want to stand out from the crowd and avoid using imagery that appears elsewhere, take the time to look at everything on offer.

There are many hidden gems to be found, often much further down the page. Opting for the same stock images as other brands is confusing and less original, even if the copy sitting alongside the image is unique.

Look For Imagery that is Unique and Original: Stock Images Usage & Best Practice Guide

The best image often isn’t the most obvious, so it pays to take your time searching for photos and illustrations. Think about what you want the image to say, who your target audience is, where it will be used, and what platforms it will be used on. Your content will benefit from original imagery and avoid being a cliché.

Don’t Use Abstract Images Or Figures: Guide To Stock Images

Unless there is a particular reason for using abstract or computer-generated imagery, such as visual effects seen in video games, as those offered by many of the casinos recommended, it’s wise to avoid this format, as it’s more suited to moving imagery in movies, games, and television programs.

Select Images That Strengthen Your Brand Identity

As well as choosing imagery that compliments your web content, think about what it will bring to your brand. Strong, carefully selected images should entice your target audience and reinforce your product or service. On this note, avoid stock images that clash with your brand’s visual identity.

Even if the imagery looks picture-perfect, this doesn’t mean it will enhance your brand’s tone of voice. It’s also good to remember that not all imagery works across all platforms, significantly when sizes vary. For example, web banners have much tighter height constraints than full-page adverts.

Avoid Passing Off Other People’s Work As Your Own

Unless you’ve paid for the rights to the image or have permission to use it. In some cases, you will need to credit the original photographer or artist. Even if no credit is required, you should never imply work is your own unless it’s just that.

Learn Which Platforms Benefit From Stock Imagery

Many platforms benefit from fantastic stock imagery, including

  • Websites: Aside from being much more cost-effective than hiring the services of a professional photographer, stock imagery allows website owners to add interest to various areas of their site, including homepage banners, blog posts, and carousel imagery. These images can also be used on social channels to brighten up posts.
  • Online Gaming Sites: Many online casinos entice users through personalized, on-trend web platforms. In order to make their games and platforms look appealing, imagery is key. There are an abundance of online casino stock images to choose from, ranging from gaming backgrounds to close-ups of the machines.
  • Print Collateral: adding interest to brochures, flyers, campaigns, and adverts has never been easier. Stock imagery is an excellent source for businesses wishing to create an abundance of aesthetically appealing marketing materials without taking the photos themselves.
Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.