A major part of building a successful brand is using proper imagery to enhance products and blog posts. While content is important, most readers will want to see an eye-catching image that tastefully compliments the article or product, which can be easily achieved by using stock photography.
What is stock photography?
When a photographer captures images of scenes that could be used to enhance a website or market a product, they sell them as stock photographs. These photographs can then be purchased from an online vendor, allowing you to use them at your own discretion.
If you haven't heard of stock photography, you may be wondering, “Why can't I copy and paste an image from another website? They'll probably never find out.”
There may be a chance that the owner of the intellectual property you borrowed will remain unaware of its use, however in the event the owner does discover that you are using it, they are entitled to reparations under copyright law.
Copyright law dictates that images belong to those who captured them, meaning that taking an image from someone's personal Instagram is theft of intellectual property. Some exceptions to the rule apply:
- Fair Use – Copyrighted images can be used in certain circumstances without reprimand (i.e. reviews, criticisms, news reports).
- Public Domain – Images being made available to the public can be used without reprimand (i.e. photos taken by NASA).
- Creative Commons – Images fall under a special set of licenses which allow them to be used by the public.
- Royalty-Free – Images can be used without a recurring fee, however, they do typically need to be purchased once.
If you do not want to face thousands of dollars in fines and a potential lawsuit, you should avoid using copyrighted content for your store or blog.
It's always a much safer idea to use stock photography, as this is far less likely to warrant a copyright infringement case. Many new bloggers and eCommerce entrepreneurs find this troubling, as some stock photography is relatively pricey, and can prove to be a large expense over time. This isn't usual an issue after a store or blog becomes profitable, but it can set newcomers back a pretty penny until then.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to paid stock photography. In fact, there are hundreds of websites online that offer free stock images for entrepreneurs and bloggers, with many offering selections that rival some of the top paid stock photography platforms. Some platforms provide images that are best used for personal hobbies, while others target a more professional audience.
Those looking for high-resolution, professional grade photography have a number of options available for free images. Some of the top places to find these images include:
Death to the Stock Photo
Free Nature Stock
Free Range Stock
Good Free Photos
Life of Pix
There are hundreds of platforms available on the web that offer free stock images. One of the most efficient ways to find stock photography without spending hours browsing through websites is to use Google's Advanced Image Search, which allows you to refine your search to only images which can be used for free (legally).
In addition to the platforms above, bloggers and eCommerce entrepreneurs should consider using any of the Creative Commons tools found online. Photo Pin is a free tool that allows users to find high-quality images using Creative Commons licensing. There is even a Creative Commons search engine, which allows users to search only for content that is protected under Creative Commons licensing.