What is Stock Photography?

And how you can use it to increase your website’s performance.

When it comes time to make your website imagery look great, it’s easy to fall in a heap if you don’t have a huge budget for a professional photographer. The good news is there is an alternative that’s cheap, easy, and plentiful… And no, it’s not what you’re thinking.

Nothing beats the real thing but…

Now before we tell you what the big secret is, be aware that you can never beat ‘real’ photos of your business, especially if you are a cafe or restaurant. Nothing beats authenticity and originality. But if you can’t take reasonable quality photos yourself; you can’t pull in any favors from photographer friends (no, not your nephew’s best friend who owns a camera and once took some photos at a school reunion); and you don’t have the budget for a professional photographer, then stock photography might be for you.

What is stock photography? Stock photography is the massive bank of images around the world that are licensed for specific use by designers and individuals. Basically, it’s used instead of hiring a photographer.

When browsing stock photography libraries around the world, you’ll find that there are literally millions of images to choose from.

Rights Managed vs Royalty Free

There are different types of stock photography. Some are ‘Rights Managed’ which means the stock photography company manages the usage rights of the image and you have to have an agreement in place. This might be that you can use, for an agreed fee, the image on a brochure that your company is printing 2,000 copies of and distributing via a letterbox drop. If you wanted to use it on your website, you’d have to purchase it again for your web needs. This can get expensive though and is more something for designers to worry about on behalf of their clients.

For most small businesses, especially if your budget is a concern, just stick to ‘Royalty Free’ imagery. Royalty Free images allow you to use it for whatever purpose you want (within their Terms of Use of course) and so long as you don’t resell it! And the best part is, there are plenty of these sites around that offer great images for less than you would pay for a good cappuccino.

Stock Photography sites to visit

Stock Photography has gained popularity over the years as a great alternative to paying photographers a small fortune to come up with imagery for your website or brochures.

Take a look at some of these websites dedicated to Stock Photography:

  1. www.shutterstock.com
  2. www.bigstock.com
  3. www.jupiterimages.com
  4. www.dreamstime.com
  5. www.istockphoto.com

You’ll have access to millions of photos that you can browse through by industry, keyword, most popular, or theme to find just what you’re looking for.

You can even download free photos at sites like www.sxc.hu and www.freerangestock.com


What to pay for stock photography and how to buy

It varies how stock photography suppliers sell their images from site to site. Whether it be for your website, product catalog, flyer, or e-newsletter, you can purchase your stock photo of choice at different sizes and resolutions – and the size you choose often affects the price. So if you only need it to appear quite small on your website, you could purchase the smallest size for $1.00 whereas if you need a high-quality print version for a poster design, it might cost you $10.00. It’s better to buy the next size up if you’re not sure though.

Depending on the site, you can buy a number of credits and then use those credits depending on how many credits each photo requires. Or buy a set number of image downloads like 5, 10, 20, or 50 images; or buy a monthly or annual subscription. If you only need a few images for your site then it’s probably best to buy 20, 50, or 100 credits to keep your expense to a minimum.

Often is the case that the more you pay for an image the better quality it is – but make sure you look around and don’t always fall into this trap of believing it to be true. It pays to explore. In a lot of cases, you can find the exact same image on another stock site for a lot less.


Does your site need an image makeover?

So take a look at your website, do an audit on the quality of your imagery and decide whether some professional shots can enhance the overall look and performance of your site. Chances are, it will.

If you’re just embarking on creating your website, browse through some of the stock photography sites mentioned and see what you can find. You’ll be surprised.

If you can afford your morning cup of coffee then you can afford to have a rich, vibrant professional stock image that is going to look great in your website, and move visitors to take action!


Know of any other awesome stock photography sites? Tell us about them. Leave a comment.


Still wondering what is stock photography or how it can help your website? If you need a hand choosing the right imagery for your business website, consider Web123’s Banner Design service. We’ll design eye-catching custom banners for you that sell, and with each banner, we include the purchase of up to 3 stock photography images for your use.

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