Using Stock Photos in Blogging

I think most bloggers have an opinion on using stock photos in one way or another, and I wanted to find out what you guys thought. I’ve been using them quite a lot recently with my university series, and it got me thinking. I took to Twitter to ask your opinions on using stock photos in blog posts, and I was actually quite surprised at the response I got.

What is a stock photo?

I thought this was an important thing to address straight up, as I suppose some of you might have clicked on this post because you didn’t know what a stock photo was. Stock photography exists to be used by different people for different tasks. All stock photos are licensed for specific uses, and as a blogger you should probably be looking for personal or professional use, depending on the nature of your blog. Stock photos range in price from completely free to anything that exceeds that, with some websites offering monthly subscriptions if you frequently use their images.

Do you use stock photos?

I personally do. Not in every post, not all the time, but I have used them in the past and I still use them in posts now, especially as I previously mentioned, in my university series.

What’s the deal with copyright?

Copyright is a tricky one if you’re using photos from Google, but there are a lot of sites out there that offer stock photos free for personal use. A couple of people I spoke to on Twitter were worried about where they stood with copyright and said they would either avoid using stock images for this reason, or only trusted certain sites where they knew where they stood. It’s not always necessary to credit your image source, though I always do anyway, but you should check if websites wish to be credited in a certain way. I used to do this by writing directly on the image (see here) but more recently I’ve started doing it at the end of the post itself as then you can directly link to the website.

When should you use stock photos?

Obviously the answer to this is very subjective, and completely depends on you and your blog. Personally, if I was writing a post about a product I own or a book review, I would always take the time to use my own photos as I would always rather use my own if it’s possible. Opinion posts or posts where I don’t really have anything relevant to photograph are exceptions to that, as I would rather use a stock photo that was relevant than take my own that wasn’t.

Will using stock photos affect my readership?

The short answer here is no. I have to admit that when I first asked for opinions on Twitter, I largely assumed that the view of stock photos was a negative one and I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised that I was proved wrong. That said, the question of whether or not you should use stock photos is a difficult one. There’s definitely an idea that they make you less authentic, and can make you appear lazy, but equally a lot of people admitted that they’d rather see a stock photo than a completely unrelated photo that you’ve taken. I like to mix things up with some of my own photography and some stock imagery, but I would hope that the majority of you that read my posts do so mainly for the content, and aren’t too bothered by a stock image.

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who replied to my tweets and helped me out with this post. I’ve left the links to their replies below, so please check them out!

@xmelodydamselx / @SarahArrow / @amynmore / @desireemerci / @tessaholly / @LolaandBehold / @rubyredr0ses

What’s your opinion? Do you use stock photos?


Stock photo from