There were many challenges that I faced as an Afrofemme blogger and one of them was trying to find images I could use on blogs that represented women of colour authentically. While some of the larger stock platforms are slowly diversifying their portfolios (rather late than never I guess) there still isn’t a ton of variation to choose from and, to be honest, I’d much rather support companies founded by people of colour with my platforms and money.
What are stock photos?
If you’re new to blogging, a stock image site is one where you can find and download paid and free images with a particular usage license. This means that the site has release forms signed by models and photographers that grant you permission to use their work. The “royalty-free” image license is generally recommended for bloggers because you buy/download the image once and have permission to use them as many times as you like without having to pay additional fees.
Benefits of stock photos for bloggers
While I know a lot of bloggers that shoot all the images for their blogs themselves, this is something many of us just don’t have the time or skills to do when running a blog as a side hustle. The main drawcard to using stock images is the fact that you can get great looking visuals for your blog within seconds and convenience would be the main attraction for most bloggers turning to stock.
The costs can add up quickly when you look at the time needed to learn basic photography as well as the cost of buying equipment like a tripod, lighting and a good camera. Even if you choose to go with a paid stock image library, it would still be a lot more cost effective than the DIY route.
The last benefit that I need to mention is the potential extra exposure and reach you can get when you choose to use images from certain stock photographer sites. The smaller niched platforms tend to be a lot more engaged with their image buyers and also cultivate a more engaged contributor community. This means that if you use an image and credit the site & the photographer say by tagging them when sharing via social media, there is a strong chance that they will repost to their feed or stories and help boost the reach of your post.
Will my blogging brand be in good company?
Deciding whether or not to do business with or even spend time on a site is a very powerful act. It’s these day to day decisions of who we choose to support that really speak to the type of brand we’re building. This is why I always ask myself if I actually like the company and if their values align with my brand’s. Intentional business decisions like this will go a long way to building the integrity of your brand as well as a community of vendors who you truly connect with. These relationships can lead to great partnerships further down the road.
Can I be sued if I use this image on my blog?
While it may seem like a no-brainer to go for free stock images instead of paid ones, you need to be fully aware of the legality of your actions. A lot of free stock sites clearly state in their terms and conditions that it is the user (that’s you) who will be liable should there be any legal ramifications for using an image.
A few things to look out for:
- Only download images from stock sites that have model and property releases for their images
- Never use images with any visible and recognisable logos
- Try to support stock platforms that treat their contributors well and who are transparent about their commissions
Is there enough fresh content added regularly?
When choosing a stock library to use for your blog, try to choose one that has an active contributor community. This would translate into a lot of free content being added to the library on a regular basis and ensure you can find the images you need without having to search a bunch of other stock sites as well.
Reputable Afrocentric stock libraries
PICHA Stock – An Afrocentric visual content provider with both free and paid options. A library that covers the USA, Africa, Europe as well as Afro-Carribean communities.
TONL – Paid stock platform with a range of diverse images to choose from.
Nappy – Beautiful photos of Black and Brown people for free.
Mocha Stock – Affordable Royalty-Free Stock Media featuring People of Color.