Why using stock photos isn’t cheating


Why using stock photos isn’t cheating


Why photographer’s can’t use stock photos on social media?

The answer? Because someone told them it was lying, it was cheating, it was misleading their followers. Guess what? Whoever said that was wrong! Photographers can and should ABSOLUTELY 100% use stock images on social media, as long as it’s done the right way! Why? Because it not only helps foster real engagement, start conversations, and add variety to content, but it saves you a hella amount of time when it comes to content creation! Don’t believe me? Let’s chat...


What I’ve heard boss babes say…

When I talk about this subject with other photographers, I’m often met with the same excuses, like:

  • “My social media profile is like my portfolio of my work, and I didn’t take that photo, so it’s like lying or misleading my clients”

  • “Those types of photos aren’t what I offer as a service, so why would I share them?”

  • “Oh, I can’t afford to buy stock photos to use. I can just take them myself. I AM a photographer after all”

  • “I don’t have time to take them myself, even though I want to”

  • “I’ve tried taking them myself, but they never turn out right. I’m a photographer - why can’t I figure this out?!”

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I call these excuses because these are all things I said in the past before using stock images as part of my social content strategy. So trust me when I say I’ve been there and I know exactly how you’re feeling, but I can 100% say these are excuses and not reality at all. Your social profile is not your portfolio (read my thoughts on that here (LINK)), it’s a place to be SOCIAL, so posting a stock photo to ask a question, tell a story, or generally engage with your audience is not lying to them. It’s using the platform as it was intended! It does not mislead them or make them think you’re offering different services. It gives them a reason to follow you, engage with you, and get to know you well before and after their session with you.

You can absolutely take them yourself and learn how to do so online for free (check out youtube and Pinterest for tutorials). And if you don’t have the time you can absolutely afford to buy some (and I’m willing to bet they cost less than your weekly Starbucks run). Still concerned? Here are some free ones from me, you’re welcome love (DOWNLOAD MY FREE STOCK IMAGES FOR GIRLBOSSES). That’s why I call these excuses, because they are not stopping you in any way. You’re just allowing them to. So now that we are past the excuses, what is this “right way to use stock images” that I mentioned? Let’s break it down with the do’s and don’ts of using stock images in your social feed


Do’s & Don’ts of Stock Images


Yes - Do This:

  • obtain your images legally (and give credit if requested to do so with a little “PC Credit: “ tag at the bottom of your caption

  • share images that match your general aesthetic & style (if you’re light and airy, stay away from constantly posting dark and moody stock images)

  • use it to start a conversation or ask a question (want to know what their favorite flavor of donut is? Share a stock image of a donut. Sharing about your morning routine of journaling? Share a stock image of a journal)

  • use it to tell a story about what’s in the picture (Have a really funny story about your recent beach trip? Share a stock image of the beach)

  • use it in the background of a quiz or poll in your story (It will add interest and brand recognition, and make people pay attention to your stories!)

No - Don’t Do This:

  • save from a website, or screenshot images (You don’t like when people do it with your images, right? Make sure to get your stock images legally)

  • use a watermarked image that you illegally got (just because it’s watermarked to “give credit” doesn’t make it right or legal)

  • claim the images is one you took or is part of your portfolio (That’s straight up lying and we are not about that, right?)

  • claim the image is taken from your cell phone (when it clearly isn’t. Again, that’s lying and it’s bad, yo! Plus it sets unrealistic expectations for your followers!)

  • use it as a promotion for your work to make people believe it is your work (again, lying is bad. Don’t do it, mmkay? Plus your customers will be REALLY disappointed when your work doesn’t match what they see online!)


Do you get it yet, babe? Using stock images can save you SO much time by not having to create the content yourself, while still engaging with your audience in a meaningful way (which we all know is what the algorithm craves). So why are you not using stock yet? Can I make this a no-brainer for you? I’ve got some free stock images for you to download and use right now, for free. Yes, fo’ free, yo! Try them out (plus check out the tons of other prompts, resources, and tools I’m giving you for free) and see what results you get! GET THE FREEBIES HERE

Courtney Jo


about the blogger

Hey babe! I’m Courtney Jo! I’m a content creator who coaches girl bosses on how to create their dream life of freedom through content creation, business, and mindset! I’m also an award winning, nationally recognized portrait photographer and I sling some amazing natural hair and skin care products on the side that has changed my confidence and life!


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I’m Courtney Jo! A photographer, girlboss coach, and shampoo slinger, with a goal to help boss babes create their dream life through content creation & coaching!
xoxo, Courtney Jo


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