Picture Perfect: 5 Places to Find Stunning Images for Your Website Without Legal Hassles

Having great images on your website makes it appealing. Just make sure you can legally use them
Visually Appealing graphic art of acorns and oak leaves

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We’ve all been there, drawn to the allure of beautiful pictures and graphics without a second thought of copyright issues and whether we may use them. Thankfully, finding copyright-safe images for your website is more accessible than you might think. 

Let’s navigate the world of online visuals together in this post. We’ll ensure your website shines with stunning pictures and legal peace of mind.

First, we’ll discuss what’s at stake when considering images to use for your website. We’ll go over ways to find legal photos and graphics you can use later. Let’s get started!

The Photo Copyright Crunch

Imagine copyright as an invisible guardian protecting creative works like photos, illustrations, and videos – even your blog posts! Just like borrowing your neighbor’s bicycle without permission, using these protected visuals without consent is a legal no-no. 

“Yeah, I get that,” you’re wondering, “But how bad could it be?”

Pretty bad:

  • Statutory Damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work. Ooof. Multiply that by a few stolen images, and your dream website morphs into a financial nightmare.
  • You might be forced to take down the infringing images, potentially crippling your website’s functionality and traffic.
  • Legal battles are not cheap either. The lawyer fees alone make this not worth it.
  • News of a copyright lawsuit travels fast, leaving your brand with a black eye and customers wondering “who trusts them now?” Recovery from a tarnished reputation is not easy.

Image Issues Beyond Copyright

The legal minefield doesn’t end with copyright. Using the wrong pictures can land you in hot water related to:


Misusing branded logos or symbols can lead to trademark infringement lawsuits, similar to copyright issues.

Right of Publicity

This protects individuals’ right to control how their image is used. Using someone’s photo without their consent, even if found online, can lead to legal action.


If an image portrays someone or something in a false or harmful light, you could face a defamation lawsuit for damaging their reputation.

Moral Issues

One of my chief values in my life and business is “Be a good human.” Hey, even Jesus said every law and every part of the Bible is wrapped up in loving God and treating people the way you want to be treated.

This means no stealing from others. A good human doesn’t show their appreciation for other’s creative talents by using their work without paying or giving credit.

Avoiding the “Free Images on Google” Trap (AKA Google Ganking):

Just because you found an image online doesn’t make it free for the taking. The internet is a library, not a free-for-all. Treat online images with caution, assuming they’re protected until proven otherwise.

So, where do we find legal, picture-perfect visuals for our websites?

1 – Royalty-Free Stock Websites

Think of these as image buffets where you can download and use visuals for free, often with just a mention of the photographer. 

Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay, and Raw Pixel are your new allies, offering stunning visuals with clear licensing terms. 

Remember, even with “free” images, always read the license details to understand usage restrictions. The license varies from picture to picture.

2 – Paid Stock Licenses

5 places to find legal images for your website

Need more variety and exclusivity? Paid stock platforms like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, Free Pik, and iStock offer high-quality images for a fee. Again, read the license carefully for each image, as it varies.

3 – Licensing Individual Images

Found a dream image, but it’s not on a stock platform? Reach out to the photographer directly! Just don’t reach out asking for a freebie deal. I can assure you, artists get enough of those already.

Many freelance photographers offer licensing options for their work. 

Think of it as a direct negotiation with the artist, ensuring you get the perfect piece for your website.

4 – Hire a Photographer

Want visuals that scream your brand’s personality? Invest in a professional photographer! Your photos will be tailored to your needs and guaranteed to make you stand out.

5 – Unleash Your Inner Artist

Feeling creative? Embrace your inner designer and craft your own images! Use graphic design tools, hire an illustrator, or take your own photos. This option takes time and effort, but the rewards of originality are boundless.

The internet is a visual place. Having great images on your website will help your site to look more appealing to your visitors, but remember. Copyright violations are never a good look for any small business.

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Kimberly Eddy

Kimberly Eddy is a website designer and author in Thomasville GA (originally from Michigan), with over 30 years of experience in design and marketing including 18 years of experience in web design.