How Not to Overpay For Your Photographs On Your Website

Photographs on your website

True or false:  Photographs that you find online without copyright attribution are free to use on your website, provided you credit the website where you found them. 

If you answered “false,” you’re in need of some Copyright 101 education so you don’t get stuck overpaying for your website photos too. 

What Do I Mean By Overpaying For Stock Photos?

To put it into some perspective, would you pay $4000 for a $10 photo? 

I can just about see you now, looking at me as if I were crazy. Of course you wouldn’t, you think. 

Well, I hate to break it to you, but if you’re grabbing images from sources like Google images and throwing them up on your website, you’re likely infringing on someone’s copyright. That means you’re just waiting to have a lawyer send you a rather nasty “cease and desist” letter with terms of repayment for your violation of copyright law.  And this is how you end up paying $4000 or more for even an innocent misuse of someone else’s images

Why This Shouldn’t Stop You From Using Images

Now – before you decide to swear off using images on your website all together, let me remind you of some of the important reasons you want to use images correctly on your website. 

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual – and visual information is transmitted 60,000 times faster than text (source:

Images are just ready to be shared via social media and generate more engagement than text-only material.

Facebook posts with images receive 94% more page visits than those without (source:

How to Find Images To Use (Even If Your Photography Skills Are Terrible)

It turns out that there are an amazing number of images you can use legally, even if you aren’t particularly skilled at taking photographs yourself.  And while they cost a little bit, I think you’d probably agree that a few bucks is way more feasible than several thousand dollars per image, right? 

Two words: Stock photography. 

What Are Stock Photos? 

According to Wikipedia, “Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses. It is used to fulfill the needs of creative assignments instead of hiring a photographer, often for a lower cost. Today, stock images can be presented in searchable online databases. They can be purchased and delivered online.” 

Just a tip – when you search for a stock photo website and you see the term “royalty free,” just remember that doesn’t mean you can use the photo without paying for it. It just means that you pay one fee and can use it in many different ways without having to pay royalties every time you use the photo. 

There are many different stock photo sites out there with a variety of different pricing structures. I’ve found that people generally have favorites when it comes to stock photo sites – they all seem to have better collections in certain areas than others.  Like others, I have a favorite photo site also.  My preferred stock photo site that balances great quality photos with a reasonable price structure is Deposit Photos.  

Are You Guilty? 

I’ve often recommended auditing your website to make sure your content remains fresh. If you think there’s a chance you might be guilty of copyright infringement, check your images now!  Take some time and go through your site, making sure you have the appropriate licenses and permissions for any intellectual property you’re using on your site. 

Leave a comment below – are you sure all of your images are properly licensed? Do a quick check of your site and leave a message below!


  1. Great info. Lots of people I am sure have no clue and wouldn’t even think of the copyright issues.

  2. Deposit photos is a new one for me. I will have to check it out!

  3. This is a valuable article. Not many people know about this. I buy images at BigStockPhoto. Well worth it.

  4. Great info, that is why I try to use my own images as much as possible. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Yes, yes, yes. Been there, done that. Learned my lesson!

  6. Thanks for clearing up the “royalty free” concept. I am now using 123RF and pay for each photo. Do I still need to put the copyright information underneath the photo in my blog? Thanks for your help.

  7. Great post and a good reminder not to use random photos. There are so many places to get gorgeous photos that don’t cost a lot.

  8. This hits very close to home. I also agree having photos is still important and can tell a good story.


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