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In a short span of 7 years in this photography industry, we have encountered our photos being used by others without our acknowledgement.

We understand that it is easy grabbing photos from the web/ Google for your own website, marketing materials, or even your own use. While it may seem to be the simplest solution, it is safer to assume that most photos you googled on the internet (especially those with watermarks) are copyrighted; unless stated it’s free for use. Using photos that do not belong to you (googled from the internet), may put you in an undesirable spotlight. If unsure, please ask the author for permission before using the photos.

So why are photos online not for you to use for free?

Most photos online are created or bought by other businesses to advertise for their own businesses or organizations.

Imagine spending thousands of dollars to do a customized photoshoot for your business, only to find out that 30 other businesses or individuals are using the photos you paid as their own marketing materials – at your cost! You would be furious, right? The reason why you invest so much in a photoshoot is to make the photos uniquely yours. You invest to stand out from your competitors. I’m sure you would want to protect your assets too.

Can I use the photos online if I credit the photo?

Crediting the photos that you found online does not mean that you have the rights to use the photos. If you are using photos to help you achieve certain goals (e.g. for advertising/ banners on website/ an article you are sharing to gain attractions), then we are strong believers that those photos you use deserve to be rewarded accordingly – ask the author for permission first before using the photos!

So, what if I require photos but cannot afford to pay for any photographs?

Do not worry! There are tons of free photos out there that are available for you to use. You can find them in one of our previous posts where we compiled a list of our favorite websites for free photos.

Just a word of caution. Do not overuse stock images and read through the terms and conditions on the website (they may change from time to time) before using the photos. We highly recommend that you credit the author in the materials where the photos are used, even if the author mentioned no credit is required (rarely). This would help to support your favorite author so that their work will be known and help them gain more visibility so they can be motivated and continue to produce more good work.