If You Use Stock Images on Your Blog, Here’s an Important Tip!


When I changed my blog’s logo, that meant taking on a second project. But I quickly realized I had a problem with some stock images I use.

I know many bloggers — and some blogging gurus — hate stock images. They prefer all-original photos.

I make no bones about the fact that I use stock images here. Since I write about multiple topics, I would not possibly be able to go photograph images that would go with all of my topics.

Sure, if I wrote a home crafts blog, I’d photograph those crafts. If I wrote a cooking blog, you can be sure I’d photograph the cooking process for each recipe. (You’d see many more photos per post, too. I like cookbooks packed with photos that show how things are supposed to look throughout the prep process.)

If I wrote all about gardening, I’d be proud to snap photo after photo of my philodendrons and chrysanthemums.

But when I write about Donald Trump, I can’t hop on a plane and walk up to the White House and snap a picture through the window. I imagine the Secret Service would not take that lightly. When I write about COVID-19, I can’t just walk in to some medical lab and try to snap my own photo of a worker looking at viruses under a microscope. And when I write about a church halfway across the country taking a different view of things, I can’t just drive cross-country to take photos of the building.

No one is coming to this blog for the pictures. If they are, they’re missing the point. For this blog, stock photos work better. So I use them.

When I changed the blog’s logo last fall, I wanted to update the graphics.

That’s when I realized I had a problem.

The bulk of the images I have used on this blog over the many, many years I’ve been writing it came primarily from four source: iStock, Stockfresh, PhotoDune and 123RF. The latter one supplied the majority of the images that appear now.

There’s a reason for that.

When you purchase a stock image, the size of the image depends on how much you pay for it. In some cases, you might get a high-resolution version larger than you’d ever really need. In others, you get a size that fits almost perfectly in the space.

Most stock image companies keep the images you’ve paid for available for you in a separate section of their website. That way, you can go back and re-download the images if you need them. Whether you can use them more than once without having to relicense them depends on the company. But I don’t do businesses with companies that don’t allow more than one use.

For some images, I had added a “watermark” of my previous logo to the corner. That way, I’d quickly be able to tell if some other site was stealing images I paid for. That, in case you didn’t know, is a big no-no.

I’ve been replacing old stock images that had the old logo (bottom) with the new one (top). Image source: Stockfresh

Because I had some images with a different logo, I needed to go back to the original to place the new logo cleanly over the original image. That meant I had to grab my old images and run them through Photoshop. Unfortunately, over the years, I became slack about saving those original downloads. It happens.

But when I went to re-download, I found that there were several dozen images that had disappeared. They no longer existed.

Let’s say you’re a photographer and you license your image to be sold through Company A. Two or three years later, you learn that Company B might have better payment rates for images they license for sale. So you notify Company A that you’re ending your agreement with them and moving your image elsewhere.

The people who purchased your image from Company A can still use it; Company A won’t bother to tell everyone who purchased the image that it’s out of their library. But if you did purchase from Company A and you go back to retrieve it later, you find out that it’s gone.

Just because you bought the image from Company A, you can’t just download it from Company B without paying them their fee for their version of the same image.

The fact that you bought it once makes no difference.

That caused some changes.

Wherever possible, I always try to use the exact same images. But sometimes, I find the original is no longer available. So if you read a post in the past, you may find that same post has a different look because of an image change.

So that means I end up having to replace old images with newer ones. I’m not crazy about having to buy extra credits to cover the cost of images I should have already had on hand.

Part of me hates doing that. But part of me feels like it’s almost like giving the site a bit of a facelift with a handful of new, hopefully better images.

But it serves as a good reminder: When you buy stock images, always always save a backup of the original download. You never know when you might need it.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.