It’s a question I have heard as long as I have been blogging.
Having blogged for over 8 years I primarily have uses stock images. Why? Because they work for me. So let’s just look at this a bit closer.
Do I Use Stock Photos, Take My Own or a Mix It Up?
Let’s break this down.
What the Heck is Your Blog About?
This is what drives your decision. If you are blogging about your hobby, of course, you will use a lot of your photos. Food blogging? That all depends. Reviews and your own recipes call for original images. But if you are doing a health food blog, it may be a mix. You might want to take a shot of the results of a dish or dessert you made. But if you are talking broadly about the health benefits of broccoli, a stock image would do fine.
But if you are an accomplished photographer, sure, go ahead and use your own photos.
Time and Ease
We all have limited time. Heck, you already have to write the post. So if you can get by with stock images, do it. If you are adamant about getting that perfect shot for your post, and the only way you can do that is to take it yourself, I send you my blessings. Whatever you do, don’t go down the vortex of image hunting too deeply. It is a raging water with a strong undercurrent and will sweep you into oblivion.
Your Equipment and Photo Quality
Fortunately, in these days and times you can get some darn good shots with even your phone. Still, there are limits. Your lighting and other factors can get in the way. You may think original photography is the answer, but if your photos are crappy? Not so much. An image reflects back on your content and you don’t want your reader distracted by a horrible image. In the end, you are going to have to make that call yourself.
“Oh, Stock Photos Suck.”
You will hear this over and over. The anti-stock photo rebels. No matter what they, they cannot find a good reason to use them. I think some of these people dream about burning piles of stock images while dancing around the campfire. Let them wallow in their negativity. There is a time and place for both original photos and stock photos.
Just use your common sense.
Remember, it’s your choice. My traffic and readership has never been affected by my use of professional stock images. No one has ever said, “Bob, why do you use them? They hurt my eyes.”
But if you use stock, make sure you have permission to use it, especially if it was free. And if you are using your original photos, what about that one from your last trip? Are there two or three people in it that are recognizable and stand out? Did you get their permission? Depending on what you are using it for, you could get into a lot of trouble if you are busted. Make sure you know what you can and cannot do.
There are a ton of places out there to get free and paid stock images. If you are looking for some decent free sites, here is a post that will help you get started.
Have You Even Wondering Where You Got That Stock Image?
Let me give you an example. Between the blog here and Judy’s, we have probably used hundreds of stock images. Some we were able to use free because of their licensing, others we purchased.
In either case I never keep the originals. For the free ones, I just try to find them again (if I’m lucky, although I don’t use the same one multiple times very much). If we bought it, we can go into our accounts there and find it.
But the problem is, I don’t always remember which account and some stock sites don’t have searches for purchased images. In other words, it’s a pain.
Here’s the Scenario
I find an image that was used over on Judy’s blog. But she ended up cropping it or using a much smaller size of it there. I want the original because I need it bigger. Bummer.
So what I do is head on over to one of my favorite tools.
TinEye Reverse Image Search
This is such a cool, free tool. You just go here and either put in the URL where the photo is placed, or upload the image. In this case, I did the latter.
Then it’s going to give me the results of a few places where this was found. If I scroll down, I found one of my stock photos.
If I click on that link, it takes me to the image on iStock.
Next, I sign into my account there. If I didn’t buy it here, well, it’s going to ask me to purchase it. But if I did, well, look at this. Now I can download the original to get the size I nee:.
But a Word of Warning
There have been a few times that this didn’t work, and I end up never knowing where I got the photo. But in my experience, 9 out of 10 times it works.
A word of caution: this does not mean you can just start grabbing photos.
As always, only use images for free that allow it with their licenses. Otherwise purchase it. Just because you find it on a site where someone else is using it, doesn’t give you free range to snag it and use it yourself. So keep that in mind.
There you have it. A free little tool that can save you tons of time.