Image usage and resources

Finding great looking (and not over-used) images for your website can be a real challenge.  We all see the same images used time and time again so how can you make sure you’re using the right images for your site?

The first option is to commission a photographer to come and take some pictures of you at work and any items that might be relevant for your business.  You can see some examples here:

Or here:

That might not be practical when you’re just starting out so the next option is to source some images from online stock image companies.  There are many free resources but as with anything that’s free you won’t have the same amount of choice and you might not find anything suitable that you haven’t seen on 101 other websites.

Free image resources include:


You will find that a lot of these sites have the same images as photographers want to share their work in as many places as possible.  Always make sure you check the licensing small print (more of that later).

If you’re happy to splash out a little bit there are image resources where you can pay either per picture or for a batch in one go.  These include:

Do not assume these sites include a license for unlimited use (or even digital use).  Make sure you check the small print on every image you want to use. Companies can and do sue small businesses and individuals for incorrect image use.

To use images freely they must have a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means:

  •          The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.
  •          You can modify, copy and distribute the photos.
  •          All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.

At GoWithThePro we were lucky enough to come across an AppSumo offer for Deposit Photos which gave us 100 images for £36.  It’s well worth keeping an eye out for similar offers.

Once you have chosen your images you need to make sure you download a high-resolution copy.

Here’s some further advice from one our members Laura who is a graphic designer about sizing, image usage and the complexity of licensing rules:

There are literally millions of images to choose from and searching and looking through them is a time-consuming task.  Each image will be ‘tagged’ as per the usual meaning of tagging, as you would on Facebook when tagging a photo of your friend.  But, also like Facebook, there are little or no rules and monitoring around this. This means that any image will have lots, likely hundreds of tags attached to it.  So, when you search for ‘business woman sitting at desk’ you will get thousands of images of women and desks, but also thousands of random things like doors, mountains, a teapot perhaps and without a doubt, some element of soft porn. Whilst this can be highly amusing is does get tiresome after you’ve seen another scantily clad woman leaning over a car bonnet when all you wanted was a picture of a woman driving a car.

When you’ve finally chosen your image(s), or simply given up and purchased the woman on the car bonnet, you’ll have the option to download it in various sizes.  It is very important to know that if you plan on using this image in any printed material, you’ll need to go for an image with the big numbers attached to the dpi spec.  Anything 300dpi or higher will be of good enough quality to print. Sometimes the image specification are in dimensions like 4000px x 840px just to confuse you. The bigger the better for printing.  And, conversely, the same opposite rules apply for digital use. Just think about where the image will be seen – is it the landing page on full screen on your website, seen on desktop computer, or a small image for social media use generally seen only on a phone? If so, small (72-150dpi) is fine.

You can’t use high quality images on websites but because they are so large they will hold a lot of information (memory size) and will take longer to load; so your customers will have to be very patient whilst they look at that ‘loading’ message and tap their fingers.

You will see the words ‘Royalty free’ when looking at the spec of an image.  This simply means that you are free to use your download however you like and as many times as you like (almost).

The rules around usage can seem quite complex, but the main thing to remember is that you can’t use it for re-sale.  To expand on this point without writing out the bible of the licensing agreement – resale meaning you’ve bought the image and then stick it on something you plan to sell.  So, you can’t print it on a t-shirt you sell or use it in a digital design template you sell or share. You can use it for promotion and marketing purposes but not on anything where money changes hands.

The best thing to do is choose your image  / video / illustration first and think how you want use it.

There is still a ‘but’. You may need to buy a licence if you want to share or sell your download.  Once you know how you plan to use your chosen item you can purchase the correct licence for it. For extra confusion these are described differently on the various website – extended license, rights managed, editorial etc. The type of license you purchase will give you different rights uses varying from allowing you to use it on a physical product that you plan to sell, to printing it hundreds of thousands of times. And again, these usage rights and licenses vary for each website and pricing structure. At least it keeps some legal bod in a job!

Finally(!), try and choose a mixture of images which will work in landscape and portrait so they will look great on all platforms.

Good luck!