Can I use that image on my website?

When you’re looking for photography to use on your website it can be tempting to do a quick Google image search, find a suitable photo and upload it to your website.

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

The image is on Google. It’s in the public domain. So I can use it, right?

Wrong! If you use an image you’ve found online without permission you’re potentially breaking copyright laws and leaving yourself open to legal action.

So what are you options when trying to find high quality images for use on your website?

Hire a professional

Your best option is to hire a professional photographer to shoot the images for you. This way you’ll end up with nicely composed and properly lit photographs that suit the tone of your business and your website.

Shoot it yourself

If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional and you feel reasonably confident with a camera you could always try to shoot the images yourself. Even a small compact camera or a phone can produce good results if you get the composition and lighting right.

Shooting your own images means you won’t have to worry about who owns the rights and ultimately you’ll get images that give a much better representation of your business.

Use stock photography

Your other option of course is to use royalty free image websites like iStock or Shutterstock. These sites contain thousands of searchable, high quality images that you can license for use on your site, but there are still rights issues you need to be aware of.

Stock images usually fall into two categories:

Royalty free images

These are images you can use an unlimited number of times and for a range of applications such as online and in print, as long as you stick to the terms of the license.

Rights managed images

These images are often restricted in some way so it might be you can only use them for a duration of time, in a particular country or for a particular application. You might also have to pay a separate fee each time you use the image for a different purpose.

Before you buy an image from a stock photography site it pays you to check the license so you know exactly how you’ll be able to use the images once they’ve been downloaded.

One word of caution If you do go down this route. Be selective about the images you use as nothing will dilute your marketing messages like using a shot that’s on thousands of other people’s websites. I’m looking at you, flawlessly skinned receptionist with bluetooth headset and you, sharp suited business man punching the corporate air in glee.