What Is Stock Photography and How Can It Benefit Your Commercial Projects?

Attracting user interest is the essential goal of any content creator who promotes and markets their goods and services online. Without high-quality visuals, it is difficult to attract the attention of potential customers by only using text in your commercial materials.

Digital creators might also have resource limitations on finding and hiring expert photographers, purchasing professional equipment, or accessing top locations. In this case, stock content marketplaces featuring royalty-free audiovisual files are the best solution. Keep reading this article to discover the advantages of stock photos and learn how to use them effectively.

Reasons to download and use royalty-free stock photography

Downloading a photo from a random internet source and using it in a blog, website, or any other commercial project can lead to copyright infringement. Every image on the web is copyrighted and cannot be used commercially without the creator’s permission.

However, you can use royalty-free stock photos for personal, commercial, editorial, and other artistic purposes. These are high-quality visuals licensed by the marketplace and legally distributed to the users. You can download and use stock files to promote, advertise, design, merchandise, and sell your services and products.

Nonetheless, creators don’t opt to use royalty-free photos just because these visuals are legal. Another main reason—the enormous savings when it comes to time and money. Organizing a photoshoot is a long process: you need to think about the concept, find a photographer, rent a photo studio, and pay the models. Then, you need to filter and edit the photos. As a result, you get a limited number of images on a particular topic.

In comparison, the possibilities of using stock photos are much wider. You get to choose from millions of files, can browse curated collections, and choose from trendy categories. Moreover, you can download images created by renowned photographers, illustrators, and graphic designers for an affordable price. 

Important aspect to pay attention to

Always check the license terms for each stock photo—you may need to attribute the source or author when using free files. Stock content marketplaces offer different license types, so users can choose one that suits their project needs. For example, you can find Royalty-free, Extended, or Editorial license types.

Royalty-free and Extended have similar terms, but the latter doesn’t pose any limitations or restrictions on file usage, e.g., an unlimited number of copies or permission to use files in items for resale. Visuals under the Editorial license can be used for illustrative purposes in newspapers, magazines, books, and other editorial or published materials.

The most popular photos and categories on stock websites

Photo stocks provide advanced search filters and numerous photo collections so that you can find and download project-appropriate photos on any topic, in any color, with any location, and any emotion in a few minutes. Stock images are a good choice for any business.

Travel agencies use stock photos of popular tourist attractions and inspiring natural landscapes; fitness clubs use images of people doing sports and leading a healthy lifestyle. Businesses that operate in the B2C sector use photos in which their target audience can recognize themselves. These companies look for candid shots of families, friends, children, etc.

Advertising firms, web designers, and website owners usually buy stock photos suitable to their specific business tasks, e.g., background photos, monochrome illustrations, abstract compositions, colorful gradients, and more. Marketers know how appealing images can positively influence an audience and drive brand engagement. So, they often use spectacular landscape shots, photos of enchanting flowers, and cute pets in their marketing campaigns to attract attention. 

Photo requests on particular topics are often seasonal. Companies usually run extensive marketing campaigns and start looking for suitable photos for banner ads and social networks a few months before major holidays. In addition, resonant events lead to an increased demand for images of a certain category. For example, stock photos on medical and health topics were in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buying or downloading stock photos for free: recommendations for stocks users 

There are numerous photo stocks you can find on the web. The most popular websites are usually those that offer free stock photos. However, platforms with free images usually offer content that’s used by multiple creators. To get unique content, consider buying premium images on paid marketplaces.

Stock content websites let users browse stock photos for free, so you can explore what files they offer. Often, you can download free watermarked previews of premium visuals to see how they fit your project. To download premium images without watermarks, you have to register and purchase a subscription or on-demand plan.

Moreover, creating an account on a stock photography website provides additional opportunities. You can subscribe to email newsletters to receive information about discounts, curated collections, platform updates, and new images, including free stock photos. You will not be charged for a photo stock membership until you decide to buy a premium stock image.

Practical tips for using stock photos

  • Don’t use popular images. Finding a nice visual on a stock photography website often takes little time. However, you should not select an image on the first page of your search results or without applying additional filters. Chances are, a lot of people are already using popular images. It is better to find an extraordinary photo that takes some time to find; this way, your design will stand out from hundreds of similar projects.
  • Make sure the image is appropriate for your project design and topic. Using non-trivial stock photos is great, but you should choose images carefully. Use visuals that complement the theme and style of your project. The same goes for the color scheme of images. If your project is in pastel colors, it’s not recommended to use a colorful photo, even if it matches the concept.
  • Edit your stock photos. This is a great way to turn a stock image into something new and unique. You can make small changes to personalize pictures for your project, e.g., use a filter, create a collage, crop the photo, and more. However, you must read the license terms carefully—not all authors allow editing their artwork.

The best website featuring royalty-free stock photos

Depositphotos is an international stock platform that offers its users diverse audiovisual content under a royalty-free license. The library contains over 230 million high-quality files, including photos, vectors, illustrations, videos, music tracks, and sound effects. Visit depositphotos.com/stock-photography.html to explore numerous curated collections and thematic categories featuring HD photos on topics like Business, Family, Nature, Leisure, Science, Food, and more. Using advanced search filters, you can find needed visuals in a few clicks. Make sure to set portraiture, orientation, color, contributor, and other parameters for search result customization. 

The platform offers free and premium visuals. Free files are marked with a green Free tag and require attribution when used for personal or commercial projects. Premium images are available for download without watermarks after purchasing a budget-friendly subscription or on-demand plan. Depositphotos offers numerous pricing plans with the option of getting a customized solution. 

Proceed with the following to buy high-quality visuals on Depositphotos:

  1. Open the stock content marketplace in your browser.
  2. Create a free account.
  3. Browse files available in collections, categories, or the general library.
  4. Choose the image you want to download.
    • If it’s a free file, you can download it right away.
    • If it’s a premium visual, you should first purchase a subscription.
  5. Choose and pay for a subscription or on-demand plan to be able to download watermark-free premium images.
  6. Save the royalty-free file onto your device.


Stock images are a great, budget-friendly option for beginner creators and those with little resources to spare. You can find free and premium HD visuals on online stock content marketplaces. Make sure to study the license terms and usage conditions to ensure you’re following copyright laws. Refer to this comprehensive guide with stock photo usage tips when needed. 

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