A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Stock Photos

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When creating websites, products for print, or promotional materials, it’s imperative to use high-quality, licensed images; otherwise, you can infringe copyright using improper visuals. The most reliable photo sources you can use for buying visuals for commercial and personal purposes are stock photo websites. In this article, you will learn the different types of stock photo licenses and find top recommendations on selecting images for websites, marketing, and creative designs. Keep on reading!

Why should you buy licensed images online?

Unlike photos that are taken for a specific client, stock images are ready-made pictures uploaded to specialized websites for future licensed selling. These files are of high quality, as they are subject to strict moderation: they should not have visual defects such as noise, blur, or undefined contours. Stock photo agencies feature millions of photos, illustrations, and vector graphics on various subjects, from nature to science. Images can be utilized in ads, websites, blogs, print products, and other personal, editorial, commercial, and artistic projects.

Working with stock photo agencies is beneficial for all parties. Authors earn on their images as files are bought and downloaded; all while users purchase HD visuals that can be legally used for various purposes. There is no need to contact a photographer or illustrator directly or look for clients who will order visuals. Marketplaces act as an intermediary, facilitating the purchase process. You can browse a library and choose what content you want to purchase.

When buying stock images, you must read the license terms carefully. Using photos for purposes other than those specified in the license can violate copyright. Depending on the license type, stock images can cost from 1$ or less to several hundred dollars. Learn more about the types of licenses below.

What types of licenses can you find on paid stock content websites?

  • Royalty-free license (RF). Royalty-free images are the most popular stock photographs. You can use them multiple times for various projects without extra payment. However, these images can be bought and used by a large number of people. This license allows the author to keep all rights to their work; the buyers only acquire the rights for usage. The advantage of these images is that they are generally affordable.
  • Rights-managed license (RM). Rights-managed images can be used for a particular project, number of copies, duration, and geographic location discussed and specified in the license agreement. If you buy an RM visual to utilize in your social media campaign, you cannot use it in packaging design, unless you re-purchase the license. RM images are more expensive, compared to royalty-free stock photos; with the price depending on the intended use and other conditions.
  • Editorial license (EL). EL graphics can be used for informational, educational, and editorial purposes only. The photos may contain famous people, recognizable trademarks, private property, and other objects. So, if you need to use these images for advertising, marketing or other commercial purposes, you must obtain additional permission from the author.

Where to buy HD stock photos

Depositphotos is a popular stock content marketplace that offers royalty-free content for international users from 192 countries. The library features 230+ million high-quality audiovisual files sorted into thematic categories and trendy collections. Browsing depositphotos.com/stock-photography.html, you can find licensed images for your commercial projects. When searching for relevant files, use advanced search filters to customize your suggestions based on file type, orientation, date, color, contributor, and other parameters.

The marketplace offers budget-friendly subscription and on-demand plans that you can customize to your needs. The platform features premium visuals that you can download as free previews with watermarks to see how they suit a project. When buying images, you can choose from different file size and resolution options, and download pictures in an appropriate format.

Essentials stock photo buyers should know

  1. Stock photos should fit the theme and design of your project. Choose images in your corporate color palette, and make sure the visuals reflect the ideas you want to convey in your project. For example, use blue shades to highlight the integrity and credibility of your business.
  2. Finding relevant and unique images can take some time. Since there are plenty of royalty-free stock photos available, you should apply several search filters to find and download images that suit your needs. Besides, popular images are usually used most often, making them less unique. If you want your design project to be memorable and original, devote more time to image searching. Use Google Images’ reverse image search or TinEye to see how many times a stock image has appeared on other websites.
  3. Downloading watermarked previews will save your resources. Instead of searching for hours and investing into visuals you’re not sure will fit your design, use previews. Previews are free downloads of watermarked files that you can use in project drafts to check their suitability.
  4. Low-quality photos are not worth it, even if you buy them at a cheap price. It is better to find high-quality images that will be appealing and complement your design, instead of struggling with low-quality visuals that you have to enhance before utilizing.
  5. Choosing a correct license will save you from legal problems. Make sure you buy photos on trusted sites only and pay attention to the terms of use. As an example, editing stock photos may be prohibited depending on the license and marketplace.


Modern stock photography is more than cliché images of smiling people. You can find landscape photos, abstract graphics, vector illustrations, portraits, and many other visuals suitable for any taste or project. Before purchasing files, study their license terms and check if they fit your design needs. Browse the Depositphotos stock content marketplace to download royalty-free visuals suitable for commercial, personal, and creative use.


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Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

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