Consider the Copyright: A Guide to Obtaining Images for the Web


Photographers and visual content creators make their living with their images and deserve both the credit and royalties from these images. Using their photos without their consent is essentially stealing. Here are four ways to get the photos you need without taking credit for another’s work.

Take Your Own Photos

One method that ensures you will not be infringing on anyone’s copyrights is to take photos yourself. This is an excellent option for social media, as the photos can simply be taken on your phone and uploaded directly to the appropriate platforms. Furthermore, they will can feature your products, employees, store location, and/or customers, which are all impactful when connecting with users in the social sphere.

If you choose to go this route for your website, you should have a high quality camera and at least a basic knowledge of photography best practices in order to present your business in the best possible light (no pun intended).

Hire a Photographer

If it’s within your budget and your business is either product or experience based (for example, retailers, restaurants, breweries, sailing tours, etc.) we strongly recommend hiring a professional photographer. Giving potential customer an expectation of what to expect when they visit your company is the first step in both closing the sale and building a lasting relationship. Using photos of your actual business does just that and hiring a photographer ensures that the photos are of high quality.

When hiring a photographer, be sure carefully review his or her service agreement. They may expect to be given credit on each and every photo with a small copyright note or a watermark or they could release ownership of the images to your business entirely. You’ll need to know what your photographer expects when using the photos on the web and to ensure that those expectations line up with your business’s needs.

You may also be able to contact photographers you’ve seen on Instagram, Flickr, or other photo sharing sites to request permission to use their images, particularly if you are looking for photos of a specific location, like NYC. Keep in mind that they may deny your request, ask for payment, or set requirements for copyright such as those listed above.

Purchase Stock Imagery

This option is a great compromise that allows you to save time, meet your budgetary needs, and present quality imagery. Stock photos are especially useful if you have a service based company, such as an accounting firm, business consultant, or any other type of business for which photos of your actual results may not be available or exciting.

When using stock images, avoid those marked “For Editorial Use Only,” as these are not meant for Also, if you plan on acquiring a lot of photos, consider purchasing a month’s subscription or a bulk of credits as that will allow you to get the greatest value.

Reach Out to Your Vendors

Vendors often have a bulk of promotional material available for their retailers, including both images of the individual products for use on ecommerce sites and pre-designed ads that can be dripped out on social media. Be sure to check with them prior to investing in a photographer.

Consider the Copyright: A Guide to Obtaining Images for the Web
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Consider the Copyright: A Guide to Obtaining Images for the Web
We’ve discussed the importance of imagery in digital marketing, but where do these images come from? At first, it seems as easy as “right click – save as” from a Google Image search, but you can find yourself in a world of hurt if you take this route.

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