As the demand for visually engaging content becomes more and more important in the progress of any business that has an online presence, then the use of poor quality imagery, and or instances of copyright theft, naturally rises too.  For me there’s nothing worse than reading about a great product or service and wanting to discover more,  but then finding the images being used are low quality, not relevant or, worse still, clearly being displayed without permission.

These days businesses can spend a huge amount of time, energy and money on creating a great customer service experience, and often that can be the defining difference to a potential customer between two similarly priced products doing the same job.  I just LOVE a brand or company that really cares about it’s customers.

However, if the products are being displayed in a really poor format and I can’t really see what makes that product the right one for me, or they don’t seem photos that even ‘fit’ the product or service, then I find it hard to want to part with my hard earned cash.

For me with my photographer hat on I’d also skip straight past anyone using an image clearly depicting copyright issues too.  It would question the integrity of the person or company.

In this blog post I aim to give you 3 really quick tips on how to safely use great photography within your business, whether that’s online or offline…

1 – Use Stock Photography
Basically, Stock Photography is the supply of photographs which are often licensed for specific uses. Prices can depend on the image size, what it will be used for and the potential level of circulation.  There are plenty of Public Domain images on the internet if you search for them. PD images mean they are unrestricted and free to use, but often the range is limited and sometimes the quality isn’t as good.  You might not also have time to go searching for them so a proper stock site is often the better solution in cases like this.

There are essentially 3 basic types of stock.

Microstock – this is the least expensive area of stock photography and where the huge volumes are often done.

Midstock – fits between the Microstock and the Macrostock

Macrostock – this is where those images that demand a much higher figure, often in the hundreds or thousands of pounds, can be found and often come with exclusivity.

There is now a wealth of amazing Microstock photography sites at your fingertips, they cater for all levels and you’ll easily find photos available under license for less than £1.  If you have a regular need for photographs then you can find just what you need here at a price point you believe to be of value to your company needs.  The photographers supply these host stock sites with their images and will be paid a percentage of the fee charged to the end user by the host site. If you use these sites then you know that the individual that took the time, effort and expertise to create the image you really want will get their fair share too.

2 – Be Aware of Copyright Laws

Copyright alone can be viewed as a real minefield and many choose the Ostrich Manoeuvre of ignoring the whole situation and praying it won’t affect them. Maybe you aren’t really aware to what extent copyright is applicable.  However, apparently, ignorance isn’t a line of defence in the eyes of the law.  If you aren’t at all familiar with Copyright Laws (and lets face it it’s generally not at the front of most peoples minds when they set out in business, and it’s not that flipping interesting either) then there is loads of information on this subject on the internet and I strongly urge you to seek it out before tripping up.

However, in brief…

  • Generally across the world, the ‘Author’ (i.e. the photographer) of the ‘Works’ (i.e. the photo) automatically owns the copyright to the work. An exception might be if at the time of creating it they were creating it specifically for someone else via a contract.  As an example, when I freelance at horse shows for other companies, those images belong to the company I am working for even though I physically created them.
  • Copyright is in place until 70 years after the death of the Author.  Once this period is met (this could be anything from 70 to probably 150+ years after the original Work was created!) then the Work returns to the Public Domain and is free to use.
  • Just because a photo doesn’t have a copyright logo or watermark on it doesn’t mean it’s not protected by copyright.  This is possibly the biggest misconception I hear in this area.  If you run with the 99.99% theory that all photos are protected unless you are specifically told by the author then you are pretty safe.
  • You may feature in the photograph, but you still don’t own the copyright.

A photographer will rarely sell a photo and the copyright to that image at the same time, unless enormous sums of money are involved.  You may own the legal right to display an image you’ve bought from a stock site or directly from a photographer, but there will always be restrictions on what you can do with that image.  So check what you are buying and for what purpose you can use it.


3 – Use a Professional Photographer.

Seems the most logical at times really doesn’t it!  By commissioning someone to create images you want within your business you can better control exactly what your final images look like.  The quality will always be strong and the content is more likely to be unique too.  It goes without saying that if you are a product driven company it completely makes sense to have images of your specific products, not a generic image.

You don’t need to spend a huge amount of money to get some great images but I would always urge you to spend some time finding the right photographer for you.  There’s no difference in my mind between choosing a photographer for commercial photos as there is when looking for one to take your personal photos too.


If you have any questions regarding this blog post, or wish to book me for your next business project, then please get in touch here and let’s chat about your queries or options.

Have a fabulous week!

Rachel x