Graphic Design & Web Development

Stock photo resources

Using stock — an economical and legal way to use photos in your marketing projects

What to do when you don't have photos for your design project:

So you want a brochure created for your new business venture. Obviously, you want your brochure to be more than just text. You want some pictures! Some pizzazz! But, you don't have any images to supply to your designer. Oh, what to do, what to do?

Well, there are three options:

  1. Hire a photographer.
  2. Challenge your designer to be creative without the use of photos.
  3. Use stock photography.

What is stock photography?

Stock photos are images which are available for purchase. They can be obtained from online image banks or stock photo disks. Prices will differ according to quality, photographer, resolution, subject matter, etc. Exclusive images can be expensive, but many royalty-free photos can be purchased for just a few dollars. It is important to clarify that I'm referring to "royalty-free" stock photography (as opposed to "rights managed"), which allows unlimited usage of the photo for a nominal fee. Another important note is that you're not actually buying the photo itself, but rather a license to use the photo. Different licenses are often available for various purposes.

Sounds like the greatest thing since sliced bread!

Not necessarily. A downside of stock photography is that you don't have exclusive rights to it. This means that anybody (e.g. your competitor) could use the same image in their own designs. Your branding becomes muddy and ineffective when it could easily be confused with someone else's.

Some stock photo websites

You may want to search for stock photos on your own and provide your designer with specific images that you want used in your design. When providing your designer with the images you want to be used, it is best to provide the file name or file number of the image (and not just the low resolution image), along with the website you found it on. This just makes it easy for your designer to find the file again if they need to. Some good places to start your search are:


Stock photos provide an economical and legal way to get quality images for your marketing materials. (Otherwise, without the proper permission to use an image, you could get in trouble — beware copyright law on the internet!)

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