How to (Legally) Use Stock Photography on Your Website

Unless you’re a professional photographer, or are best friends with one, or you have the funds to hire one regularly, you’re likely in the position of needing to source high quality professional stock photography for your website.

Fortunately, there’s a simple and affordable way to do it: Unsplash.

Unsplash is a collection of professional photography from photographers around the world—all available for free download under a creative commons license. This means you can use their photos for any personal or commercial purpose, for free, without crediting Unsplash or the photographer. Pretty sweet!

Unsplash is also integrated with Squarespace (our favorite website platform to build on!) so you can easily search for these images within Squarespace and pull them right into your website or blog. Extra sweet!

A few guidelines & tips for using stock photography on your website:

Only use photos you have explicit rights to

“Borrowing” photos you like from Google image search is a no-no. Photographs are protected under copyright law and should not re-used without the owner’s consent (even if you give them credit).

The best way to use other people’s imagery on your website is to either purchase the right to use it (how most stock photography works, like Getty Images—though this can get expensive), or simply stick to photography that is shared under a creative commons license (like Unsplash).

Set up Unsplash collections

Streamline your photo browsing and selection by setting up specific “collections” in your Unsplash account. This allows you to save photos to the relevant collection as you come across them, saving you lots of time down the road! It also helps you easily return to photos you’ve used or have flagged to use.

Though the Squarespace editing interface allows you to search for and pull Unsplash photos directly into your website, it doesn’t allow you to access your collections there, so you’ll need to do that directly in Unsplash.

Know your aesthetic & be consistent

Know your photography aesthetic and stay consistent in it across your website. Though it can certainly change over time, at any given time the imagery on your site should feel relatively cohesive—and should contribute to the overall look and feeling of your brand.

Be intentional in your searching

Sourcing appropriate stock photography can take time. (Especially if you’re working solely with free imagery, which is more limited.)

But for many brands/businesses, it’s worth it to spend a bit more time searching for the most appropriate image for your needs, rather than settling for something you came across quickly, even if it doesn’t entirely fit the bill.

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How to use high quality and affordable stock photography on your website—legally, of course!
How to use high quality and affordable stock photography on your website—legally, of course!