Adding high quality photos to your website or blog is a great way to increase traffic to your site. The benefits of embedded photos include increased desirability for your services, increased credibility and trustworthiness and a higher perceived quality of service. Finding images for your website or blog can be difficult considering the fact that almost every image created in the last 30 years is still protected by copyright. A copyright is a protection that gives a content creator the exclusive right to use or reproduce their work. However, there are still ways to find great visuals to spruce up your web content while avoiding copyright infringement:

Public Domain

Public domain images are images that have no copyright for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The copyright has expired.
  • The work never had copyright to begin with.
  • The copyright holder released the work into the public domain.
  • The image is a U.S. work published before January 1, 1924.

You can recognize public domain images by its Public Domain Mark 1.0 or the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Mark. Use of these photos require no citation and can be found on any one of several public domain image websites.

Creative Commons

Another great resource for collecting photos for your website is Creative Commons (CC). An image with a Creative Commons license gives photographers the ability to release their photos to the public with limitations on how the photos are used. All CC photos will either fall into the category that allows for commercial use or the category that does not allow it. CC defines commercial use as one that is “primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.” This does include indirect profit as well, meaning that if you use an image on a website or blog post that is affiliated with a for-profit business, that counts as commercial use. With that being said, if you run a small business, you should only use CC photos that allow for commercial use.

A CC licensed photo can have certain stipulations such as:

  • Attribution: Allows others to distribute, alter and build upon the creator’s work as long as they credit the creator for the original creation.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike: Allows others to alter and build upon the creator’s work as long as they credit the creator and license their new creations under the identical terms.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike No Derivatives: Allows for the redistribution of an image as long as the image remains unchanged and is credited to the creator.

You can use search filters on creativecommons.org to find photos that allow for commercial use and modifications.

Stock Photos

Stock photos make for high quality website content. A stock photo is a photo that the creator licenses out to anyone who pays the licensing fee. Purchasing this lease allows the buyer to use the photo is anyway prescribed by the licensing agreement. Stock imagery is beneficial because there is a large variety of pictures to choose from that are relevant to almost any niche you can think of. Not to mention, stock photographers are professionals, so you are guaranteed to find photos that are of good quality.

It is important to note that a stock photo license may also come with stipulations such as for editorial use only, meaning that the photo can only be used for a publication like a newsletter or a blog but not on a main website page or ad. A simple Google search such as “home improvement stock photo” will direct you to a list of several stock photo websites that will help you find exactly what you are looking for.

There are also stock photo sites that photographers contribute to and have waiver their right to payment for the use of the photo. Due to the popularity of free stock images, it’s likely other website in your niche are using the same photographs. Some of the most popular sites for free stock images include:

Social Media w/ Permission

Images on social media should be treated just as any other photo you find online. Most social media platforms include terms of service that state that images posted by a user belong to that poster. Though many people repost social media photos all the time, it does not mean that it is lawful and could actually result in legal action if permission is not granted. If you have a customer that has posted the final product of one of your services, simply sending them a DM or comment asking for permission to repost is an easy way to protect yourself from any potential legal problems.

Take Your Own Photos

The most guaranteed way to ensure that you are avoiding all copyright risks, is to take your own photos. This way, you will have fresh, never-before-seen content which is always a plus. You don’t even need a professional camera these days to take high-quality photos. A smartphone will suffice just as well as any top-of-the-line DSLR camera out there. You also have the option to hire a professional photographer to take photos for you if you are hesitant about your photography skills.


Images are an important element for making your online content pop. However, you can’t just take any photo you find on the internet and republish it on your website. Copyright infringement can cost you up to $150,000 per offense even if done accidentally. Following one of the strategies listed above is sure to add some flare to your site while keeping you safe from facing the serious consequences that come with a copyright violation.

For more information about how to build your website to attract new customers and stay connected with current customers, use our Element of a Website guide.

Want more help establishing your website as an authority in your area of expertise? Our team can get your website up and running after a short conversation to clarify your goals. Get started today!