Searching for the right photo to use in your digital marketing can be a challenge. But finding a legally safe image is a bigger challenge. 

Yes, it may seem easy to simply ‘borrow’ a photo from Google, but did you know that this method is illegal. Yes, illegal!

And if you get caught, you can face serious consequences! This is why it is crucial to stick to websites that sell legal photos. 

What are Legally Safe Photos?

Each photo that appears on the internet is covered by copyright. And depending on the copyright, you may or may not use the images for commercial purposes. 

On the other hand, stock photo sites issue a relevant license that allows the users to use the images on their site for both – commercial and personal use. Some licenses also allow the users to edit and modify the illustrations according to their requirements. 

Another issue that comes with digital photos is the release and trademark law. While the photographer has a right to sell off their work, they may not have permission to use the ‘models or property’ that appear in the photos. 

Yes, a photographer needs permission before uploading photos of:

  • An identifiable person or animal  
  • Private properties 
  • Government buildings
  • Landmarks
  • Trademark or logos

Failure to provide the proper release can result in an infringement that ranges from a hefty fine to a lawsuit. 

How to Avoid Legal Action with Stock Photos?

The best way to avoid legal action when using photos from the stock photo sites is to carefully choose the images. Avoid photos with distinguishable images or property – and if you do use them, make sure legitimate releases are collected before it’s used. 

It’s also crucial that you check the license details of each stock site you use to ensure that they are applicable for commercial use. The licenses should be current and give you detailed information about the stock site’s terms and conditions. 

If you need visuals frequently and curating customized photographs is not your piece of cake, it may be worth investing in one of the premium stock photo sites. These sites may charge a nominal fee for using their services but offer high-quality images of rare subjects that you are unlikely to find on free stock photo sites.

Moreover, premium stock sites have a robust vetting process and will only use professionally taken photos. They also issue relevant licenses with each image, so you are less at risk of infringement due to licensing issues when you use their services. 

Best Places to Purchase Stock Photos

Now that you know the importance of legally safe photos, here, let’s take a look at some sites that offer the best collection of legal images. 


With millions of royalty-free images available, iStock is the best place to start your search for a legally safe image. Boasting one of the most organized databases of photos, iStock makes it easy to search for images in specific categories.

When it comes to pricing, iStock has both a credit system and a subscription plan. In addition, iStock sends one free photo, illustration, and video every week to your email inbox if you sign up for their newsletter. 

2. Fotolia

Fotolia by Adobe Stock is another site that is our favorite for legally safe photos. Similar to iStock, this one also features both – subscription and credit-based plans. However, the great thing is that you get a one-month free trial with any of the plans you choose. 

Another feature that makes Fotolia stand apart from others is the similar photo search. If you have a photo that you like and want a similar photo, simply drag and drop it on the search bar. Fotolia will search its database and find you a similar image. The tool will even help you find images from the same photoshoot.

3. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is one of the largest stock photo sites that has been around longer than most competitors. With over 30 million files of photos, videos, and music – you are bound to find a handful of desired images on the platform.

When it comes to pricing, Shutterstock has subscription plans as well as on-demand packs. The pricing here is a little expensive than other stock agencies but given the fact that Shutterstock has a large database, the investment is worth it – especially if you are looking for pictures of rare subjects. 

4. StockPhotoSecrets

With over 5 million royalty-free images, StockPhotoSecrets is another site that is worth taking a look. While the library of StockPhotoSecrets may be smaller than Shutterstock, new content is uploaded at the same rate of 100,000 new files each month.

StockPhotoSecrets Shop offers photos at both – yearly and monthly subscription plans. They are quite cost-effective when compared to other stock agencies and are ideal for small to mid-sized business users. 

5. Getty Images

One of the pioneers of stock content, Getty images hosts one of the most substantial databases of stock photos. And indeed one of the most expensive – thanks to the high-quality images it offers. 

The pricing for images on Getty depends on the size you choose. They also have bundle packs you can select according to your requirements. Their site is easy to navigate and comes with advanced search filters, making it easy for the users to find the images they need for their projects.

6. Alamy 

Referred to as the paid alternative to Unsplash, Alamy has a huge database of images and videos. That is because Alamy accepts images in every niche so you can get photos of almost every subject. However, thanks to the advanced search protocol, finding the required image on Alamy is easy. 

When it comes to pricing, Alamy offers per image pricing modules that can be purchased according to the use. 

7. DepositPhotos

DepositPhotos is another affordable stock library that offers bundle packs for budget-friendly entrepreneurs. With their plans, you can get an image for as low as $0.27 per image. 

What makes it great is that the prices don’t compromise on the quality. Even due to the low prices, the quality offered by DepositPhotos is top-notch with plenty of filters to help you locate the right photo. 

Wrapping it up

These were just some of the stock photo sites that give you the freedom to use without any legal hesitation. Compare the pricing plans of each of them out and see which one works best for you. Good luck!