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Should You Use Stock Photos Over Your Own?

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Great for personal use and for commercial businesses; stock photos can be used as a placeholder or for when you don’t have any images yourself. However, should you use stock photos over your own?

Using photos online is almost a requirement if you wish for people to stay on your website. However, not everyone has taken images of work they have done or to symbolise what the page is about. The next best thing is stock photos. There are many stock photo websites (which we will go more into later) that offer images for free with others that require you to purchase a license. These websites are constantly updated with more images all the time. Therefore, there is bound to be somewhere that has the image you are looking for.

Using your own photos does require you to take them, but also use a high-quality camera to get the best images. You can use images taken from a phone, but if they are poor quality, they will be less effective and can even put people off. Taking high quality images where possible will work much better on your website as they are clearer and are more likely to captivate visitors.

Should you use stock photos over your own though? That is the question we will be asking in this article.

Dependant on your industry

Depending on your industry, using your own photos will be the best option while other industries will benefit from using stock photos. Graphic design companies are a perfect example where using their own photos will aid them more than stock photos. People that are looking to have graphics designed or printed will want to see what a company can do. If the company doesn’t use any photos or uses stock photos, people won’t be able to see what they are capable off. This can cause people to go elsewhere.

It is those kind of businesses, alongside businesses that provide services like home design or products like garage doors; where using their own pictures will serve them better. These show potential customers what the business has to offer and can entice people to stay on the website or even get in touch. Businesses that work in sectors that might not be as pleasant, such as working in the sewer, would benefit more from using stock photos.

Stock photo websites

As mentioned earlier, there are stock photo websites that enable people to take and use photos taken by others for their own personal use. This can be of anything and in most cases, these images are free and require no modification. Photos are a great way of having a visual aid on the website which will grab people’s attention; making them more likely to contact or make a purchase. These websites provide a wide range of photos that are suited to match what people need.

From an image of someone working on a fridge to a group of people having a meeting; there are a wide range of images to choose from. With so many websites available, all of which have a different range of photos you can use; there is bound to be one that has an image for what you are after.

Some of the more noticeable stock image website are:


Pexels is a great place for people and businesses to find stock photos. There is an extensive range of images available to be used with 100 images being added every day. This means that Pexels has an ever-expanding range of photos and with so many contributors, there are images covering a vast range of areas.



Shutterstock is another website which enables people to have access to a broad range of images. It has many users and has built up an extensive storage of photos which are all available to be used. However, this comes at a price. Shutterstock is one of the few platforms in which you cannot use images without paying for a licence first. There are a range of subscription options available, all of which provide different perks such as increased image allowance and users.

One of the licence packages is specifically for a certain number of images. It then moves onto their standard licence which has a variety of levels. From being given the ability to download 10 images per month to a max of 750 images per month; each level causes the cost to increase. The last option is a team subscription which allows you to select the number of users you would like to give access to the account with the ability to download 750 images each month. This starts with 2 users and gives the option to select ‘4 or More’ which will allow you to select a specific number of users where a price will be given.

Shutterstock is another example of an easy to use stock photo website. Like Pexels, it allows people to view and download images for free. Hundreds of new photos are added every week which means their collection is always expanding. With their current collection of photos, there is something to cover a wide range of areas.


iStock is very similar to Shutterstock. It requires a subscription before you can access their extensive range of photos. These subscriptions also come with the options to purchase a set number of images or to dedicate a set number of images that can be downloaded each month. iStock have made it so that credits have to be bought for you to be able to purchase a certain number of images. You can purchase a single credit for £9 and you can also purchase 300 credits for £1,450. Larger packs of credits can be purchased, but this require people to contact them.

There are subscription options that can be set for a single month or year. When only paying for a single month, you can either choose to pay for access to all images on the site (this includes the images that are a part of their premium signature collection) or only pay for essential images which are any images not in their premium signature collection. You also have to select the number of images you wish to download over that period. The smallest amount is 10 with the maximum amount of 250. When choosing to pay for a full year, you get the same choices as the 1 month subscription, but get the choice between an allowance of 50, 100 or 750 image downloads per month.



Burst is another free to use stock photo websites that does not require you to purchase a license or subscription to download images. All of the images on the website are free to view and download, but you can also sign up for a weekly email that contains their top new photos. This way, you get a selection of stock photos straight to your inbox. For businesses that are looking for a specific type of image, this wouldn’t be that great as they will be more likely to find the image they need through searching for it themselves.



Unsplash looks quite basic, but has an extensive collection of images that are all available for free. There is a range of subjects/themes at the top of the website which direct you to pages full of images based on them. You can even quickly access the images which are trending or new as they are accessible immediately on the home page.



Being very similar to Unsplash, Picography has a very basic design, but a large collection of free photos. It has more photos being added regularly, but it doesn’t give specifics. When accessing the site, you get an overlay which asks if you would want to subscribe to their monthly email send outs. These will contain a list of free images and show what has been added. There is also an option to give money to the site in the form of a tip jar. This takes you to a PayPal link from where you can decide how much you would like to donate.



Skitterphoto goes back to the display like Pexel and where it has a large picture at the top of the site which has a search bar placed over the top of it. With Skitterphoto, there is an option to browse through specific subjects or view featured image. There is also a section towards the bottom of the page which allows you to view what the admins have picked out and the newest photos.


Using your own images

Stock images are good when you don’t have any images yourself, but if you have some, you should use them. When you have taken photos of work you have completed, they show potential customers what you are able to provide. When it comes to providing a service, customers will want to know and see what you can do before making their decision.

Taking your own images

Taking photos of work completed that is then used on the site is a way to build trust. Potential customers will be able to see what you have done and your professionalism. This will push them to make contact or enquire. If they can see that you have provided a good service, they will want to get in touch. Using stock images or not using images at all can put people off or cause them to be wary as they aren’t able to see what you have done in the past for other clients.


In conclusion, both types of images provide different benefits. Therefore, you should use both. There is no reason not to use both on your website. You can use a stock photos for a banner and then use your own photos within the content. A good mix is what makes website more successful when trying to make a conversion.

If you are looking for a new website or a re-design, you need to take this into consideration. Why not get in contact with us today and go through your requirements with our specialist web designers.