Which photos can I use from Google Images?

Let’s face it: whether you’re crafting an original blog article, a flyer or a brand new website, it will look very bland without images. But where can you find images quickly and without much trouble? Google Images of course! Well.... No.

It is quite common to believe that you can freely use any images found on Google Images but that is not actually quite true. Though Google Image is a great place to find images quickly, the popular search engine only showcases images found on other websites.

Unfortunately, that means that not all the pictures you find on Google are free to use. Quite the contrary. So the real question is: which photos can you use?

Which photos are free to use?

You found a nice picture and that’s super cool but how do you know if you can actually use it without being sued? You only need to follow a very simple checklist:

1. Where the picture is from.

There is always a small link at the bottom of each image that will tell you where the image is from. If you already have the picture downloaded, you can also do a Google image reverse search.


2. How you can download the image.

If you land on an image provider’s website, no worries, you will be able to download it either for free, or for a fee.
If the image is not directly on a stock agency’s website, you might still be able to purchase it somewhere else, like Imageselect for example. Simply save the low resolution image and perform an image reverse search and you will immediately see if it can be sold or not.


3. Ask the author

In the case where the image is not available for sale anywhere, you might need to ask the image’s owner if you can reuse the picture yourself. Many people/companies do not want their images to be reused, even if you credit them so you need to be extra careful about using a photo. If you buy a stock picture or download it from a provider of free stock images, then you don’t need to ask the author for authorisation.

4. What you can do with the image

Now that you have the file within your reach, you need to make sure you can use it for your purpose. Indeed, certain images are only available for editorial purposes (books, magazines, newspapers), others for commercial use (ads, social media, company website) while some even require an extended licence to be used (for personalised products for example).


Where can I find stock images?

The smarter way to get pictures is to search from somewhere else than Google. Afterall, there are thousands of stock image agencies on which you are sure to find a picture fitting your needs, among the millions available.

Doing so saves you multiple steps along the way. No need to check far and wide where the picture comes from, nor reach out to the author to ask authorisation either.

There are thousands of stock agencies, our favourite being Imageselect of course. On such websites, you can directly search using keywords or even image reverse search to find the picture you need.

If you have a specific image in mind, you can even contact the Imageselect team so they can help you find where to buy the image at a preferential price, and without having to worry about rights clearance. That’s what it means to be a stock photography expert after all.

You aren’t sure if you need to pay for an image or can have it for free? Check out our guide on about when do you need to pay a stock image or contact us!

(Sep 6, 2021) Clemence Servonnat Getting started

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