Options for Photos for your Website

Every website designer knows how important it is to have a variety of resources at your fingertips when it comes to not only building a website for a client, but also building their online presence.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with sites that offer stock photos so you can easily access the images you need.

So much of what people take in online is visual and so each image you select really matters. Before we get into where to find high-quality and interesting photos, let’s first talk about the kind of licenses that are available for people.

Different Types of Licenses

Essentially, there are three types of licenses you can choose from when looking for photos for your website.

So, here is my simple explanation of the three:

Public Domain: This type of license gives you the ability to use a photo for free for personal or commercial use.

Royalty Free: This type of license gives you the ability to use a photo for a one-time fee for both personal and commercial use. These are copyrighted images with fewer restrictions and can be used across multiple projects.

Rights-Managed: This type of license has more restrictions than the other two licenses mentioned above. Rights-Managed photos give permission to use the photo in one project in the way specified by the owner of the rights to the photograph. In order to use the photo in multiple projects, you must pay another fee.

Most of the photos we purchase for our clients are Royalty Free or photos we take ourselves, since they are less expensive but can be used on their social media too.

Where to Find Free Stock Photos

But, where do you find high-quality, interesting photos? Well, there are plenty of places you can get free stock photos. But, there are definitely trade-offs when going the route of free pictures for your website.

For starters, many free stock photos require an attribution link wherever you use the photo. This is fine, however, from an aesthetic point of view, it definitely isn’t the best option for your website. Not only this but free stock photos are usually less exact in what they are capturing in their photos. I have spent a lot of time searching through photos and finding that just right picture can be a bit of a task. With free stock photos, you will find less of a variety.

Now, where do you find free stock photos? I definitely have my preference of sites over others. Without a doubt, Unsplash, is my favorite resource for free stock photos. I think they have a bigger variety and higher-quality stock photos than most of the free sites I’ve tried.

Another source for free stock photos is Pixabay. The quality of the photos varies, but you can definitely find good photos for your website as well. They have an easy interface and also offer a good variety of categories. Now, keep in mind that they do offer illustrations, vectors, etc as well, so make sure to use the filters as you search so you don’t have to sift through images you can’t use.

In terms of paid stock photography, of course, there is no arguing that the quality of photos is higher. You can also usually find EXACTLY what you are looking for. And, because so many of the photographers specialize in shooting for commercial use, you will usually find photos suitable for local businesses and trades.

There are tons of websites that offer stock photography. I usually am able to find my images on Shutterstock. But other websites I have used are iStockPhoto as well as Getty Images (although, they are much pricier than the other two sites).


Essentially, if you are looking for images for your website, you will definitely find many, many sources for quality photos. You need to make sure that you are paying for the correct license and permission, or if using free stock photos, that you are abiding by any attribution requirements that may be in place. Most importantly, though, it’s important that you understand that the photos you select are an important part of what you are conveying to visitors to your website.

Selecting the right photos to fit the feel of your website and business, as well as that convey the right message to your visitors is key, so take your time looking through all of your choices and make sure you find pictures that work well together.