Be Careful With Images on Your Website

take your own photos is a great way to stay legal but this is from unsplash and also legal

Typically the best choice is to take your own photos or hire a photographer. When that’s not an option, make sure you use images you have purchased the rights to or are truly free, like from Unsplash. Google images are NOT legal to use.

I’ve heard of quite a few other web designers sharing stories about their clients getting huge bills from Getty Images due to illegally using stock images they found online. Even if you are using an image from a supposedly free site, it’s not a safe guarantee. People may have uploaded something to the free image sites that they didn’t actually have the rights to upload. Other times this happens because people think it’s okay to download anything they find in a Google (or Bing) Image search.

I came across this article and he explains the issues with finding images via search engines very well. Short, easy read. Critical advice!

Here’s my own collection of safer options for “free” images:


One site the article above didn’t mention for photos is Unsplash. They have really high quality photos that truly are free. No strings attached. They are uploaded by the photographer directly, so it seems more trustworthy to be legit. Unfortunately, I rarely find images that fit with my clients’ messaging. But “phone taking a photo” image is from there. You also can’t search this site, butArthur Weill has created a category-based Unsplash Search.


Similar to Unplash, Minimography has great photos tied directly to the photographer. It is a project by Lauren Mancke and Brian Gardner so I completely trust it. The only downside is that like Unsplash, most of the images don’t really convey what small businesses want to convey with images on their site. It’s currently a small but growing collection.


This is a nice option from a legitimate stock image site. The content varies day to day and you can only download the smallest resolutions size images for free, around 450×334 px size. This is great for blog posts, though it’s a little small for link sharing on Facebook since their link image previews are 470×246 px on the desktop with a recommended size of  1200×630 px.

You have to use this link to access the free search and make sure you use the special search box for the free images. NOT the one near the top of the page. There are also links to other freebies on that page too. They appreciate when you give photo credit, but it’s not required.

Getty Images

Getty Images is also offering something I thought would be cool where they let you embed images for free. However as you can see, they don’t really deserve that “outstanding” evaluation I was hoping to give them (see the image below).

I think I’d rather give photo credit vs have their gray bar and logo attached to the images when used on a site. It’s also hard to use it to guarantee a good link preview on social media.

One important thing to know before using their embed option is that they state, ” you can embed any Getty Images photo that has the embed icon (</>) on a website, social media site or blog for free and without having to buy a license, as long as the photo is not used for commercial purposes (meaning in an advertisement or in any way intended to sell a product, raise money, or promote or endorse something).”


What do you think? Does the branding ^above bother you?

P.S. Not all their images seem to have the embed option. Here are their details on it.

NYPL Public Domain Collections

This is not something most of you will probably be able to use, but if you need images of the historical nature, there’s a lot here.

Their browse option is pretty cool.

This page explains more about the collection

And this link will let you search the collection