Understanding Stock Image Terminology & Top Sites for Free Stock Photos

Understanding Stock Image Terminology & Top Sites for Free Stock Photos

Stock photos are great. Use them on your website, in printed promotional materials and on signage. With a Google search for stock images bringing up hundreds of possibilities, all you need is time to sift through and find the best ones.

Before you can take and use a stock image though, there are some rules and regulations that you need to know about. Today we're explaining some of the common terminology relating to stock images, plus sharing our favourite free stock image sites with you.

What Are Stock Images?

Stock images are photos or graphics which are available for use by others. They come in two general categories: free to use, and pay to use. So yes, some stock images won't cost you a cent, while others you will pay a fee to use.

The benefits of stock images include that they can save you money and time, they're easy to find and readily available. You can use stock images for almost any purpose, including commercial, personal and editorial, including:

  • website photos
  • eBook covers
  • printed materials
  • home decor
  • magazines and newspapers
  • videos
  • letterheads
  • trade show booth displays
  • social media
  • newsletters

However, the ways in which you can use stock imagery will depend on the licensing agreement it has.

Understanding Stock Image Licensing Terminology

There are plenty of tricks for new players when it comes to the use of stock images. What is key though, is understanding the licensing terminology allocated to each image:

  • License - the terms under which the photo must be used. There are two main licenses: royalty free and rights managed.
  • Royalty free - you can use the image as many times as the license states without needing to pay the owner each time. This doesn't necessarily mean the image is no cost though.
  • Rights managed - an image which is more exclusive in that not as many people have access to it, but which has very clear terms on what it can and can't be used for.
  • Attribution - you are required to identify the photo owner, and sometimes give a link to the site where you got the photo from.
  • Creative commons - photographers offer their photo for free, but you still need to follow the licensing terms.
  • Public domain - the copyright of an image has expired and there are no terms or limits to using the image.
  • Subscription image - when you pay a monthly fee and receive a set number of images you can download per month (with terms).
  • Extended license - more options for using than with a regular royalty free license, but costs more to buy.
  • Editorial photo - usually photos which have an event or celebrity theme and they have special terms attached to them.

Best Websites for Free Stock Images

By free, we're talking at no cost to you. What you will find though, is each of these sites have their own licensing terms you will need to identify and then follow. Here is our list of favourite websites which offer free stock images:

Remember when using stock images, follow the licensing terms to be certain you won't have any copyright problems to worry about. Take a read of Website World's article on using images correctly on a website to ensure they look fabulous!

Posted: Monday 20 May 2019

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