5 minutes to read

The Importance of Using Licensed Stock Photos for Websites and Content

Photos and other visuals are an extremely important piece of any type of design, be it your website, blog, emails, and more. However, using the correct photos can be a little more difficult than it sounds. Having your own personal photo shoot every time you need to send an email can be costly, time-consuming, and for most of us, pretty unrealistic. The answer to this? Stock photos!

Stock photos can be used in place of your own personal photos for web design and other content. These photos are usually professional, good quality, and high resolution which is necessary for this type of visual aid.

While stock photos are extremely helpful and convenient, it is important that you get your stock photos from the correct place. It is very simple to Google search an image and use it in your marketing materials or on your website. However, this is not the best course of action and could result in you getting hit with a large fine for not using a licensed photo.

What Resources Are Available for Me to Use Licensed Stock Photos?

There are many options available for you to find stock photos that have the proper license for your website and other content. These sites range from free photos to photo subscriptions to pay-per-photo plans. Try to do some research on what fits best with your content needs and the type of photos you need for your industry.

For example, if you typically need more photos that are set in an office or have to do with technology, you wouldn’t want to pay for a subscription that had more activity focused or outdoors photos.

By determining the kind of photos you need, you will be able to find out which stock photo sites best fit your requirements.

You will also need to think about how often you will be using the photos to determine which site to use. For example, if a site has a required subscription service to get photos, but you only need them once every few months, that might not be the best site for you.

On the other hand if you are regularly in need of stock photos, you should consider a site that updates their photos frequently so you aren’t constantly trying to choose between the same photos.

Finally, you should consider the license terms associated with each site’s stock photos. Some questions to consider are:

  • Copyright restrictions
  • How you can use the photos
  • How you receive the photos (site downloads, photo packages, emails, etc.)
  • Attribution requirements
  • Personal and/or commercial restrictions

While these are not the only license terms to consider, they are a good starting point to make sure the photos you are using are not going to to be used incorrectly.

i5’s Favorite Stock Photo Sites

Here at i5, we have a few favorite stock photo sites we frequent and these are a good starting point if you are looking for sites for your own stock photos. The sites range from free to subscription, but they all have a good variety of photos available for personal and professional use.


1. Bigstock Photo

Bigstock offers over 64 million stock photos and videos available for a subscription service. Their inventory is easily searchable and has a large variety of different types of photos.

Bigstock’s images are provided under a royalty-free license and are available to use in almost any way you want, provided it fits under their standard license agreement.

Subscription services start at five images or videos a day and go up to fifty images or videos a month. Visit their site to see all subscription plans and pricing


2. UnSplash

UnSplash is another site we love for stock photos. The over 300,000 photos at UnSplash are free to use, modify, and more without needing permission or to attribute the photo.

UnSplash allows you to view curated collections of photos or to follow your favorite photogs so you can keep up with their new posted work.

Photos are free to download, but some require you to sign up for a free account with the service. Account benefits also include creating your own collections of photos, like other photographers pictures, and even contribute some of your own.


3. Pexels

Pexels does the heavy lifting for you by searching stock image sites and choosing the best of the best. All images available on the site are free for personal and commercial use with no attribution required.

Pexels adds over 3,000 high quality images to their site monthly in addition to the over 40,000 images they currently have available.

Photos on Pexels are free to download, but require you to sign up for an account with them. Account benefits include the option to have photos sent directly to your email inbox and follow you favorite photographers and pictures.

4. Pixabay

Pixabay is another stock photo site that offers copyright-free images and videos for no charge. All content is offered without the need to ask for permission or provide attribution for personal or commercial purposes.

Pixabay offer an advanced search bar for those times when you are searching for something very specific. For example, if you are searching for an image of flowers but do not want to see photos of roses, you can filter out all images of flowers that contain roses.

Images are free to download, but require that you have an account first. Sign up to start downloading.


5. Getty Images

If you are looking for exclusive or premium images, Getty Images is the place for you. The price tag on these images are much higher than some of the other sites. However, Getty Images has the largest library of photos including historical and celebrity photos.

As mentioned, Getty Images is much more expensive than some of the other options, so this may not be the best choice for companies who are not searching for high-resolution and high quality photos needed for traditional media such as print publications, TV, radio, or billboard.

Getty Images also runs iStock Photo as an alternative which offers royalty free photos for either a one time purchase or low subscription plan. If you are not using the stock photos in print or other traditional media, this could be a better choice as well as any other the other alternatives listed above.


Photos and videos are important visuals to include on your website and other content regardless of your industry. While you may be able to use your own photos taken from photo shoots, they may not always cover everything you would need to express in an image.

Stock photos are a great alternative if you don’t have your own photos. Just remember, acquiring them the correct way through a site that offers licensed, royalty-free images is necessary to avoid problems and fines in the future.


Using quality stock photos is a helpful way to make sure your website stands out from the crowd. Learn five other ways to turn your website into a sales machine here:

Learn Five Ways to Turn Your Website into a Sales Machine

Written by Amy Silberman

Client Success Manager