As you read in one of our recent blog posts, the possibilities are endless when it comes to using styled stock photography in your business. However, you might be wondering how to properly use photos you didn’t take yourself. For example, do you have to give credit? Are you allowed to use the photos anywhere you like? So many questions!
In general, stock photography has two sides: the consumer (the person downloading and using the images) and the photographer. Many stock photography services purchase photos from many different photographers. Other services, like styled stock photography sites operated by a creative team, have in-house photographers that produce the images.
Depending on the source you’re using, there may be different licenses that limit how you can use the photos. It can be a little confusing, so we’re going to break it all down for you:
Stock Photography Licenses: What You Need to Know
This type of image is the most common. Basically, it means that you pay one time for the image (either by paying a per-image fee or using credits) and you can use that image as often as you would like. However, just because you have paid for the image and own it, that doesn’t mean others can’t also buy the same image. However, a good stock photography website will restrict images to a certain number of users before retiring it to ensure the photos stay fresh.
It’s important to understand that royalty-free images still have restrictions. Many services will not allow you to use the images for profit. So you could not, for example, print the image on a t-shirt and sell it for profit. Often, there’s a restriction on how many print runs you can do as well. Most sites selling royalty-free images also offer additional purchase options to get around these restrictions. Just be sure to read what’s actually included with your purchase and if it’s not clear, reach out and ask. You’re better safe than sorry!
This kind of photo license is not nearly as common as royalty-free licenses, but you may still see it come up as you search for stock photography. This type of license allows you to use the image for any purpose you need for a set price. If it’s important to you that you’re the only one using the image (even for a limited period of time) this might be the option you need. Larger brands look for this option when they do a big ad campaign and they want to make sure the image they’re using is not also popping up other places.
Extended (or Enhanced) License
Some stock photography websites will offer an extended (or sometimes called enhanced) license you can purchase for their royalty-free imagery. This license allows you to extend the rights of the image to include specific needs like additional reproductions or resale rights. This license costs a bit extra, but for some purposes it may be worth it. Be sure to read everything that’s included in the extended license to make sure it actually covers what you intend to use it for. If you don’t see something you’re looking for, just ask! A lot of times, they will work with you, especially if they’re already offering extended licenses on their photos.
What Does “Editorial Use” Mean?
If the image you want to use indicates that it is for “editorial use” only, that means you are not able to put it on anything you plan on selling. These images are to be used for educational purposes for by journalists in both online and physical publications. You can also use images labeled for “editorial use” on educational blogs.
Giving Proper Credit
Unless the license you’ve purchased specifically mentions that you do not need to give credit, it’s always a good idea to do so. Include the name of the photographer and/or the source of the image below the image whenever you use it. Take a moment to make sure you spelled the name of the artist correctly, and provide a link back if you’re using the image digitally and it makes sense to do so.
Stock photography makes life a lot easier when it comes to digital marketing. Our service allows you to easily search for the theme, industry, and subject matter you need to finish your latest blog or your newly re-branded website. Our restrictions are much more minimal than most other stock photo service, and they’re flexible for your needs. Learn more about our image usage policy and restrictions on our FAQ page. If you still have a question for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team! We’d be happy to go over any concerns you may have.