Why Buy Photographs?

Raindrops on Red Berries

Most people know it is easy to grab a photograph from the Internet by right-clicking and downloading it to your computer. Without going to the source of the photograph and purchasing it, this practice is "stealing" it from the artist who created it and the agency that represents them.

You may be a blogger, and book writer, or a media creator for your new small business. You may find yourself wanting to enhance the materials you create with photographs. Great idea!

Before you right click on an image you find on the Internet, I would like to caution you. Photographers create images. In the same way, your words are created by you and out on a page, photographers put light and color on digital media. Photographers and their agencies own the images and when you “borrow” them for your product the photographer is not recognized, appreciated or given any compensation. This is a dangerous practice for you and could end up costing you more than the purchase of a photograph.

There is a well known story heard on the Internet of unknowing copy and save being caught and sued for use of images owned by them. It goes something like this: Someone is creating a website or a blog. They need a picture of a puppy. They search the Internet and there it is, found, the perfect picture. The person right clicks, saves the picture and then posts it to the site. Months or years down the road, they receive a letter stating that the image they used is owned by an agency and since it was not purchased the owner of the website now owes that agency for the usage; calculated by the time up online. It may be $1800 or it may be much more. The agency has the right to ask, litigate for compensation as the owner of the image.

Photographs have digital signatures and they can be traced to the owner and photographer.

There is a better way. Stock photo agencies sell photographs for photographers and the cost is so little. Purchasing an image from the agency does more than give the agency your money. It supports the creativity of the photographers as well. For each image purchased at an agency, a portion goes to the photographer who created it.

Each agency has a different way of selling images. You can investigate the “full membership”, “monthly membership” or even “one-time” plans of many stock sites to purchase your “treasure”.

Dreamstime offers a free picture on the home page every month. It allows a customer to see the quality of the work.

As a photographer, with Dreamstime

Photo credits: Circe Denyer.

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February 17, 2015


It is very easy to check where your images are published - or used - on internet. Just drop your image, with or without watermark on Google image search. If its not to much manipulated it will show up. Notify DT if its stolen.
If its stolen from any of your own sources like a website just - gready or not - send an invoice! A theft is a theft - which is not at all OK in my opinion.

February 16, 2015


Good blog! Congratulations!

February 14, 2015


Hi thanks for posting great article
you mentioned that photographs have digital signatures and they can be traced to the owner and photographer? How can I trace my images through these digital signatures? Thanks

January 28, 2015


It often occurs because of incompetence of people. A lot of people just don't know that all photos and images in internet have an author, a right holder, and they can't use them unless they are in free access or have suitable license for free using of them. And It is sad, that they can't read this good article. You should post it on tumbler or WordPress ))

January 20, 2015


It's really scary that teachers are doing this. I am an adjunct instructor and try very hard to emphasize and reinforce intellectual property rights in the class room.

January 20, 2015


Nicely said. I work as an aide in a school and i cant tell you how often i see teachers right-clicking on stock images!

January 20, 2015


I have seen a lot of photos at photo hosting sites (example Flickr). While there are numerous with acceptable composition (some even have to crop), many who uploaded the original full resolution image failed technically. I am proud to be with DT, when all the photos here are reviewed for noises and our images are way higher in quality technically. Some genre of images are hard to capture (e.g insect macros), so please it is not just about snapping a picture and asking for it to be sold. A lot of sweat, time, effort (in the field and at the computer), and sometime - blood, are involved.

January 19, 2015


The problem is many folks are uninformed, and think that just because a photograph can be found online, it can be used. I'm not sure whether they are spinning excuses, or truly ignorant.

January 18, 2015


Lol at Philipharding. By the same reasoning, if a shopkeeper puts things on the shelf and they are not in a highly watched area, they are de facto free for the taking. Tell that one to the officer that comes to arrest you for shoplifting. Let me know if it works. ;-)

January 18, 2015


How childish! Look at how greedy you all are!
If you really want to change hearts and minds why don't you work on the conservation of the mother earth that produces the wonders we photograph?
Like weeds in a garden, posting compressed, low-quality images ensures their growth. Would I sue someone for copying my comment here? What's the difference? Obviously professionals would neither spend the time required to remove a watermark nor post a picture with one. The other side of this argument is that uploaded images become, de facto, public domain.

January 18, 2015


Great post Circed, thank you.

January 18, 2015


It is so EASY and inexpensive to do it right. Thanks for the feedback!

January 18, 2015


Well said - kudos! K-

January 18, 2015


Very clearly told and a warning to thieves............. that's what they are if the use and don't pay.

I wonder if this kind of theft can end up with a criminal conviction ? That would ruin their career and be an enormous deterrent against others doing it. David .

January 18, 2015


Thanks for posting this!

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