How to legaly use great photos on the website or blog

free stock photos for commercial use

It is widely known that a well-chosen picture can catch the attention when the dry text could be omitted. No wonder that on our own site we want to have nice pictures, which also attract the attention of visitors.

Few words from the author

This entry originally appeared in our knowledge base on 83msite.com, but because we redesigned it completely and we abandoned few ideas (knowledge-bas included), we decided to publish it here. It would be a shame to burry it somewhere in the depths of server backups. The entry was made some time ago, and that in the matter of free stock images things change dynamically, I will update it from time to time. But don't blame me if some information is out of date :-)

Each picture has its author

It's good to know that each photograph is somehow covered by copyright law. You can't just download the images found on the internet and put them on your own website or paste in an article on your blog. Even if you specify the source and the author (unless the author expressly authorized uncredited use). Any unauthorized use of images may result with lawsuit or bill issued by the owner, especially for commercial websites or those that in some way benefit from the picture.

Photo bank

With the development of the Internet, the demand for pictures at a good price has increased. In response to this people created stock photography banks where sometimes for a few dollars you can buy a nice pictures for commercial use.

  • shutterstock - high quality stock photography for estimated 3,25€ for small and medium size picture
  • istockphoto - high quality stock photography from estimated 13$  for a medium size picture
  • fotolia - very good quality stock photography from estimated 7$ for a medium size picture
  • 123rf - good quality stock photography from estimated 3$ for a medium size picture

Free images

Although buying two or three photos for the company website isn't so big expense, when it comes to blog it is whole different story. Most of the time blogs are run as a hobby and the option to buy photos of each new post might be a bit pricey. In this case, it's the best to post pictures of you own authorship. However, if you do not have the time, or it's not your strong skill it's best to ask around. Maybe one of your friends is passionate about photography and will let you use his/hers images to illustrate articles in exchange for credit and a link to the portfolio. But there are more alternatives. There are several websites from which you can freely use images in this situation. Among them:

Perhaps the quality of the images contained in these sites is far from ideal, but you don't have to spend a dime on them.

Publishing free stock images has recently become a very popular way to gain visibility in the design industry. Internet swarmed with websites posting excellent quality free photographs. Just to name a few:

Very cool thing are free stock images aggregator sites like:

If, however, you are one of the people who are patient and systematic, that with time and with a little luck you can gather quite a large database of high quality images. Stock photo banks such as istockphoto or shuttershtock once a week, for a specified period of time offer one new picture to download for free. The only thing you need to do is sign up and remember to download new images every week.

Always check the licence and terms of use

Keep in mind although that it's often necessary to fulfill certain conditions in order to be able to use pictures for free. Most commonly it will be providing link to the author's site. The above methods do not relieve you from reading the contents of the license  and terms of use accompanying the images each time.