The Rules of Using Stock Photography: 6 Tips for Graphic Designers

Stock images are a great invention. There’s no arguing it. The lives of many bloggers and graphic designers were made much easier due to the presence of these images. Are you using them? They can be used both professionally and even if you’re an amateur. Even the biggest of laics used stock photos at one point during their time on the internet. They might not be aware of it, but they have. We can bet you on that one. These photos are available to anyone, anytime. But, it’s not Wild West as it might seem from the get-go. No, there are rules to be obeyed.

This especially goes for everyone who is into graphic design. Stock photos are used for content creation. So, it’s no wonder extra caution is recommended. Using a photo is one thing, but how you use it is another. The quality of these photos can vary from those that are top-notch in every sense of the word to lackluster content. Some photos can be of great use, while others, not so much. So, if you want to create content, or use already existing, it doesn’t come without limitations. Now, we’re not talking about laws here, but certain rules need to be applied. This is what we’re going to discuss in this article. Let’s talk about the rules of using stock photography. Here are six tips for graphic designers that can be of great use once you start your work.

Be Professional, Seek Professionals


If you’re even a little into stock photography you’ve noticed one thing – there are hundreds of websites dedicated to it. This makes choosing the right one quite hard. Some of the websites you’ll encounter are legit. Others will not be in that domain. Telling the difference is half the story. As a graphic designer, you always need to seek high-end quality photos. This is the only way to create good content of your own. With photos that are not good, you’ll find it hard to create anything of worth, and you’ll find yourself in a limbo of websites, and stock photos that are not worth your time or money. This is why it’s vital that you work only with professionals in the domain, and gain reputable partners. If you’re not sure where to start we can tell you a good place and it’s

Don’t Discard the Licenses

While in the majority of cases stock photos are free, there are some tricks to it. First of all, the majority of the free photos are available to everyone. But, there are rules tied t them. When you buy a stock photo you are probably entitled to do most of the things you want with it. But, there are always licenses tied to most of the photos out there on the web. While you might become the owner of a certain photo, there might be limitations to where and how you can use them. So, before committing to a photo, you need to see its license. The case might be that you won’t be able to use it the way you first intended. These are small details, and if you’re serious about using stock photos you need to look into it. The situation is the same if you plan on being a creator. You’ll need to determine a certain set of rules that will apply to your photos and the way they are intended to be used be it for free or for a fee.

Attribute The Photos


If you’re serious about being a professional stock photo creator you’ll need to learn a thing or two about photo attribution. They can be attributed in many ways, but above all else, you must be respectable. Depending on the site you decide to use to promote your work, you’ll be given attributing guidelines. This part ties perfectly with the part above. Photo attribution ties in with the license you decide to have your photos under. Even if you’re not the creator, but the buyer of a photo, you need to continue being careful about how you attribute it. The stances you need to pay special attention to include source and author above all else and title and license as the two second most important items.

Beware of The Size

This all comes to the part of how you’re going to use any given photo. In most cases, people tend to focus on the highest resolution. This makes sense, but it also begs the question – how will you use the photo? In some cases, you don’t need the highest resolution. So, before downloading any photo, you need to have an idea of how will you use it, and do you need the highest resolution. If you’re going to use it for graphic design work, the highest resolution makes perfect sense. But, if you only intend to have it on Instagram or Facebook, or your blog or website, it doesn’t need to be of the highest quality.

Watch Out For The Dates


The world of stock photos is an evolving one. What was there yesterday, maybe won’t be tomorrow. Some stock photos websites still exist but they haven’t updated their database in a while. If you encounter a website like this you might find yourself in danger of using outdated photos. In the photography domain and the department of graphic design, you need to be modern and go with the times. If you start using outdated photos, the chances are your work won’t be noticed. You’ll be forgotten before you’ve given yourself a chance to be remembered.

Brand Your Images

Whether you’re creating or buying photos one thing is essential – create a brand. When you’re a part of the world of photography you must have a type of originality tied to yourself. You can do this with other people’s photos, and with the ones you create. But, whatever you do, you need to see yourself as a brand and operate with that thought in mind. Remember, being different and unique will never go out of fashion.

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