Where to Find Royalty Free Stock Photos

by | Sep 20, 2022 | Digital Marketing Tips, Web Design Tips

Images are used on all blogs, social media pages, websites, and especially in digital marketing, with the purpose of enhancing the business material. If you can’t afford a photographer, the majority of small businesses utilise either royalty free or paid stock photos for their digital marketing campaigns. In this article, we are going to show you where you can find and use quality images that are mostly copyright free and free of charge.

But, if you’ve never used them before, you might not be familiar with the legalities of doing so.

Another is picking the right photo for your brand, that contains the message you want to reach for your potential clients.

When using royalty free stock photos and videos for your marketing campaigns, it is important to know when it makes sense to use one.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of using free images and videos to ensure that you choose the best stock photographs for your article.

The do’s and don’ts of royalty free images

You and your marketing team decided to run a social media campaign and want to use images relating to your product, service and brand to attract potential clients. But since your business is a startup, hiring photographers is an expensive option. The innocent thing to do would be to Google your niche and click on the image tab on the results page, and download an image for your own use. That could potentially be a big and expensive mistake.

But, you need to be aware that using random images from a Google Image search is not permitted in most cases, because doing so will almost certainly result in legal action.

You must ensure that all of the images you use are royalty-free to prevent getting into trouble. Keep in mind that a royalty-free offer doesn’t always mean you won’t pay anything.

Simply put, it indicates that after following the necessary permissions, you may use the image for your purposes.

There are two types of Usage Rights on Google:

Creative Commons Licences

Regardless of whether the photographers themselves want it, copyright laws automatically grant ownership and copyright protection to photographers around the world. These regulations streamline the copyright procedure, while also safeguarding photographers in the era of the internet, where you can get all the resources online.

However, a lot of photographers decide to make their photographs available for public usage. They can lawfully maintain control over or remove their ownership rights thanks to a Creative Commons licence.

But, not all free stock images that can be downloaded under Creative Commons licence are the same. Some demand that you credit the image’s creator each time you use it, or you are not permitted to use the image for commercial reasons under all Creative Commons licences.

It’s crucial to read the terms and conditions on how to use the image to avoid legal actions, so make sure to read it.

Commercial & Other Licences

These images have non-Creative Commons licences and can be from either sites available at no charge or commercial sites that require payment.” – Google Help Center

In simple words, these photos can be used on a pay-per-use basis. But, even though you have paid for those photos, there can be some restrictions on things like the kind of use, duration, location, etc.

So, are free images really free?

Although they won’t cost you any money, free stock photos might not be copyright-free. Stock photos have a Creative Commons licence attached to them that specifies how and where they can be used and shared.

Always verify whether “free” photos can be used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, depending on what you need them for, and whether the owner must be credited.

Are photos with a royalty-free licence truly free?

Royalties are continuous sums paid to creators and owners of the rights to utilise their creations. However, these kinds of limitations do not apply to royalty-free photos. But, that does not imply that they are free.

While some royalty-free photos are free to use, others require a one-time payment of a licence in order to do so. Photos that are in the public domain, copyright-free, or under the CC0 licence are all examples of royalty-free images that are free to use.

What websites offer royalty free photos for your digital marketing campaigns?


royalty free stock photos

Our favourite graphic tool to use here in Digimark is Canva.

Canva is an online graphic design tool that also offers royalty free stock/CC0 licence photos.

One of the major advantages of using Canva as an agency is that it offers design templates. You can turn on any photo to a custom designed image that can be used on your social media channels or blogs. Canva has a lot of features, be sure to check them out!


royalty free stock photos

Pexels is one of the top sources for free photos, offering a sizable collection of 3 million images that are free to use anywhere.

You can filter for colour, size, and image orientation to find the best image for you. If you can’t find any photo for the search you did, Pexels will recommend you similar keywords people are searching when they use the keyword you put in.

Additionally, Pexels has a licence that outlines what is permitted and prohibited with regard to the photo use. The photos are free for both commercial and non-commercial use without credit. The only thing with Pexels is if your search is too niche, finding the right photo is quite a struggle.


royalty free stock photos

Now if you’re having a hard time looking for photos because your topic is too niche, you can try Unsplash. A library of over 2 million high-resolution pictures is available on Unsplash for free.

Photographers from all over the world contribute their photos to the collection as part of the Unsplash community project. In contrast to more conventional stock photos, the images frequently feature artistic portraits and breathtaking scenery.

The usage of any Unsplash image, whether for profit or not, is completely free and without credit.


royalty free stock photos

One of the largest repositories of free images deemed suitable for commercial use is Pixabay, which has over 2 million royalty free stock photos, illustrations, videos, sound effects, and vector images.

Every image on Pixabay is totally free and doesn’t demand attribution. They have a sizable library, so there’s a good possibility you’ll discover something useful there, from creative backgrounds to traditional stock photos. Their website is attractive and simple to use, which is always a plus.

In addition, every time you download, you will be reminded that the image is free for commercial use and no attribution is required as part of the Pixabay Licence.

Tips on how to safely use stock photos for your digital marketing campaigns

#1 Pick stock photos that best fit your brand

The secret to selecting effective stock photos, as with any marketing plan, is relevancy.

  • Does this image adequately convey your brand message?
  • Does it match the picture you want to project?
  • Is it pertinent to your industry and our advertising objective?

If possible, refrain from using overly popular stock photos, as these kinds of images can do more harm than benefit your campaign.

Images are what will catch the eye of your potential clients.

For example, the image I used above asked the question “Is it relevant?” while smirking and thinking. What’s funny about that question, right?

Compared to the image below, she’s more into the serious thinking part of asking herself “is it relevant?”

Your objective when selecting stock photos to utilise in your digital marketing shouldn’t just be to find one that accurately captures the theme and voice of your campaign. Take into account how successfully a photo will persuade visitors to click and progress through your marketing funnel as well.

#2 Be creative in editing/modifying your stock photos

Stock photos can become more personalised and relevant images that speak directly to your marketing strategy by adding your creative touches. Adding a small piece of text or cropping the image will assist in making your photo far more contextually relevant to your advertisement. (As a reminder, make sure to look into the licensing before editing your stock photographs).

#3 Stock images and professional photos should be mixed

Essentially, using stock pictures for every project is bad advice. As a general rule, utilise stock photographs for your secondary images and original shots for your key images (e.g., your website’s hero page, your social network profile photos, etc.).

It’s important to have your bespoke images showing the faces of the individuals behind your company to make it more authentic, rather than using stock photos that depict human emotions. Stock images are best used for more general purposes, like social media postings and photo carousels.

To wrap it up

To increase traffic and engagement for your marketing campaigns, visual content is crucial. Even while stock photos are less expensive, they still have their limitations in terms of what they can accomplish.

Make sure you read the terms and conditions of the free images you plan to use, to avoid ending up on the wrong side of copyright law.

If you would like some assistance from a digital marketing expert in curating your marketing campaign and gathering the most appropriate images, why not contact Digimark to help you?

Contact us at 085 7053575, or send us an email at paul@digimark.ie to get started!



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