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Navigating the World of Stock Photography

Stock photography and illustrations can be invaluable resources for graphic designers, providing high-quality visuals to enhance your projects. However, navigating the world of stock imagery can be overwhelming, especially with countless websites and licensing options to choose from. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the process of finding and using stock photography and illustrations to elevate your designs and streamline your workflow.



1. Determine Your Needs

Before diving into the world of stock imagery, it's crucial to identify your specific needs. Consider factors like the subject matter, style, and format of the images or illustrations you require, as well as your budget and licensing needs. By having a clear understanding of your requirements, you'll be better equipped to find the perfect stock assets for your projects.

2. Explore Reputable Stock Image Websites

There are numerous stock image websites available, each offering varying degrees of quality, selection, and pricing. Some of the top stock image websites include:

  • Shutterstock

  • Adobe Stock

  • Getty Images

  • iStock

  • Unsplash

  • Pexels

While some websites offer premium content at a higher price, others provide free, high-quality images with varying licensing restrictions. Be sure to explore multiple websites to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

3. Understand Licensing Options

Licensing is a critical aspect of using stock images and illustrations. It's essential to understand the different types of licenses and their usage restrictions:

  • Royalty-free (RF): Allows for multiple uses of an image without the need to pay royalties for each use. However, some restrictions may still apply.

  • Rights-managed (RM): Grants a one-time use of an image for a specific project, with the option to purchase additional licenses for further use.

  • Extended or Enhanced Licenses: Offer additional usage rights, such as the ability to use an image in print runs exceeding a specific threshold or for use in merchandise.

Always read and understand the licensing terms and restrictions for any stock assets you plan to use in your projects.

4. Utilize Advanced Search Features

Most stock image websites offer advanced search features that allow you to refine your search based on factors like image orientation, color, style, and more. Take advantage of these features to find the perfect images or illustrations for your projects quickly and efficiently.

5. Keep Your Stock Assets Organized

When working with stock images and illustrations, it's crucial to keep your assets organized. Develop a system for organizing and categorizing your stock assets, such as by project, subject matter, or licensing type. This will make it easier to locate and reuse your assets, saving you time and effort.

6. Give Credit Where It's Due

While not all stock images and illustrations require attribution, it's always a good practice to credit the original creator when possible. This not only respects the work of the artists but also helps build your reputation as a professional and ethical graphic designer.


Stock photography and illustrations can significantly enhance your graphic design projects, providing high-quality visuals that capture attention and convey your message effectively. By understanding your needs, exploring reputable stock image websites, familiarizing yourself with licensing options, and maintaining organization, you can seamlessly integrate stock assets into your designs and create stunning, professional-quality work.


Contact us for a quote today at designs@digitalinkmilwaukee.com


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