What Is Stock Imagery (And How to Use It)?

If you’re a creative person with a career in graphic design for example, or if you just require pictures for different tasks, you’ve probably heard the term stock photographs or stock photos.  

What Is Stock Imagery (And How to Use It)

But what exactly are stock images? How can you put them to use?

Stock Imagery, What Is It?

Stock photography refers to existing photos that have already been created and are made available for licensing by paying a fee to both the artists.

Who created them and the stock agencies that manage them, acquiring the right to use them legally in various ways while the author retains the copyright of their work.

However, stock images encompass much more than just photography.

Vector files (illustrations, adjustable templates for social media graphics, print materials, soundtracks, stock footage, and even 3D models are all available for licensing.

Many stock photography sites are beginning to specialize in certain kinds and types of stock photography, such as more diversified stock photography and more realistic, natural stock images.

If you want to establish a full-time photography company, stock photography is a terrific approach to market your work and increase your revenue.

Benefits Of Stock Imagery

Stock pictures, such as stock photography, vectors, and drawings, provide several advantages for companies and creatives.

But the most important, immediate, and visible advantages are time and money savings.

Hiring a photographer or graphic designer to produce a personalized image for you is both costly and time-consuming.

Not only may professional honoraria be exorbitant, but the projected period between hiring and delivery of final photos might be weeks, if not months.

Obtaining the appropriate tools and abilities to generate photos on your poses the same challenges.

Stock photos, as you have just learned, have already been generated and are ready for usage.

As soon as you pay for a license, you can download it and use it under the conditions that have been agreed upon.

And some of them are reasonable, certainly far less expensive than hiring a photographer or graphic artist.

More significantly, most stock photographs are designed for commercial usage.

Photographers understand that marketers and company owners are their primary end-users, and they have everything in place to be high-converting graphics.

Where To Find Stock Imagery

There are several picture library websites available, and it might be difficult to discover trustworthy ones from which to obtain photos.

Ideally, you want to hunt for high-quality, professionally-shot photographs that are free to use and frequently have no restrictions on where they may be used.

It’s even better if you can locate uncommon yet related photos that other accountants won’t use.


Shutterstock is another well-known stock picture company, and you may be familiar with their watermark.

Occasional users can benefit from price discounts at five, 25, or 50, but frequent users or businesses likely prefer an ongoing membership plan.

Getty Images

Getty Images, one of the most well-known companies in stock photography, provides stock pictures, images, videos, and even music.

Getty provides pricing cuts for five and 10 package purchases, which might save you hundreds of dollars if you’re using huge HD photographs or videos.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is well-known for the breadth and variety of its offerings. We prepared a six-step guide to choose the ideal image on Instagram since it’s so beneficial.

However, because the cost of stock imagery is part of its attraction, you may be better off acquiring free stock photos.

If that sounds more like what you’re looking for, have a look at our list of 30 free public domain picture sites. Just be sure to follow the usage rules, so you don’t inadvertently violate the agreement.

When you’ve found a stock image site or database that you like, you’re ready to start looking for genuine photographs. But first, one more piece of technical advice before you begin! Make sure you double-check the status of your stock image to ensure it’s safe to use. You want to double-check two major points:

Examine the licensing agreement. If you intend to retouch it or use it professionally, check sure the license is appropriate.

Some works are more unique than others, and in the case of legal repercussions, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Using Stock Imagery

Using Stock Imagery

Stock pictures may be used for a variety of business, journalistic, and personal reasons. A Royalty-Free license allows for a broad variety of applications.

Rights Managed images allow for almost the same purposes as unmanaged images, but only one user per license. 

Stock picture providers only allow you to use the photos as part of a larger design. You cannot show the image exactly as you obtained it; rather, you must alter and adapt it to make it fit your project.

Depending on the license, different uses are permitted. All approved uses of Royalty-Free photos may be found here, and all authorized uses of Rights Managed images can be found here.

Copyright And License Laws

The majority of stock pictures are copyrighted, which means that the photographer or designer who created them retains rights and intellectual property over the photograph or illustration.

As a result, you are not permitted to use the photographs without their express consent, as well as without paying the appropriate royalties or attributing them where needed.

Don’t worry, when you purchase a license, you will be able to download the high-resolution, unwatermarked versions of the photographs in the collection.

When you purchase a stock picture, you are only purchasing a license to use the image in the ways that are permitted. You do not become the proprietor of the image.

The author retains ownership; you are simply paying for the right to use it.

There are several types of picture licensing agreements, the most prevalent of which are Royalty-Free and Rights Managed.

If you’re unsure which licensing type is best for your purposes, consult our detailed comparison chart for Royalty-Free and Rights Managed license options.

A critical point to remember here is that each stock photography provider establishes its licensing conditions under these two license kinds.

They tailor the license to their specific needs, therefore the privileges and limits may differ from one agency to the next.

You must also examine the licensing agreement. If you intend to retouch it or use it professionally, check sure the license is appropriate. Some works are more unique than others.

A popular misconception that some people have is that they can use any image that they come across from Google images.

This is not allowed though as the search engine is only there to show them to you so that you can follow them to the source website.

So it’s important to remember this the next time you need an image quickly for your project!


In general, stock photography is a collection of ready-made photographs that may be leased commercially.

Obtaining photographs online from a stock image agency is one of the most effective ways to lawfully use photos for your project. Even more so if they can be high-converting images.

There are lots and lots of images out there that you can choose from and use but just make sure that you read the fine print and make sure that you have the right to use them for what you are intending. 

Katie Dawson