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Why I Use Fotolia for Stock Photography Images

Updated on July 26, 2013

Finding the Perfect Image for your Website with Fotolia

Websites just look better when they have sharp, professional pictures that match the content. It can be a challenge to find the perfect image and get permission to use it online. Fotolia has become my website of choice for purchasing royalty free photographs, because of how easy it is and how clear the rules are.

I love to use photographs I take, or public domain images from the US government, but those don't always give me the choices I want. I had to start looking at other photography sites. While I have used sites like Flickr and MorgueFiles, there many things about Fotolia that give it an edge for me.

Image © Brocorwin -

Certainty about Copyright and Use

While Creative Commons has given us a great selection of images to use, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what use is acceptable. I've seen many debates between writers about what constitutes a non-commercial website. As a third year law student who has studied intellectual property, I know how confusing these issues can be! You may think you are using a photograph correctly, but it may not always be the case. And what happens if the photographer changes their licensing later?

With Fotolia, you are purchasing the right to use the image. The images are also royalty free, so there is no restriction on the number of times you can use the image. I can put the same stock photograph on Squidoo and my blog once I pay for it. I have that right and there are no questions about it. You can also purchase an extended royalty free license, which allows you to put the image on items for resale. You may be able to convert an image purchase into even more cash!

© yves dewulf -
© yves dewulf -

Navigation and Ease of Use

It's never taken me long to locate the right image on Fotolia. As I mentioned previously, because there is no confusion about what images can be used, the search is even easier. No need to do an advanced search or narrow options down as to what you will be doing with the image. Search for keywords, locate an image, select the size you want, and download. Easy!

There are other methods for browsing besides keyword searches. You can browse images by category if you aren't quite sure what you are looking for. Or, Fotolia provides a small selection of free images that can be used in the same manner as purchased images.

Fotolia also makes it easy to upload images to your portfolio if you are a contributor. All the information you need is available on your personalized home page.

Read More About Microstock Photography

Microstock photography is an interesting subject. The concept is that, instead of selling an image once for a large amount of money, a microstock photography company will sell images over and over again for a very small fee.

Microstock Photography: How to Make Money from Your Digital Images
Microstock Photography: How to Make Money from Your Digital Images

This book is aimed at helping you learn to utilize these types of websites to earn money. There are certain kinds of images that sell better than others online, and this book contains 60 photographs to illustrate what sells and what does not. As someone who is a visual learner, being able to see examples of these techniques is priceless!

© Sergej Khackimullin -
© Sergej Khackimullin -

Image Quality

Sites like Fotolia don't accept every image that is submitted to them. Only about half of the photographs I have submitted to my portfolio have been chosen. There is a level of quality to their stock photography database that is hard to duplicate at other websites.

Sometimes I will use the advanced search on Flickr to find images with a Creative Commons license. However, I then have to sort through what might be hundreds of images to find something that looks professional enough to use on my website. There is built-in quality control on microstock photography websites.

Earning More Fotolia Images

Even though many stock photographs can be purchased for around a dollar, people wonder why they should pay for something they can get elsewhere for free. However, there are two main ways that I utilize Fotolia to get the images I want and need without spending any cash.

  1. Uploading my own portfolio of stock photography images. I don't have many images on Fotolia, but I do have some up for sale. When they sell, I earn a percentage of the purchase price in the form of credits. I use these credits to pay for images to use on Squidoo and my personal blog. In this way, I'm not really "buying" stock photography, but trading!
  2. Fotolia's affiliate program. When I use a stock photography image on my website, I include a copyright statement giving credit to the original photographer and giving a link to Fotolia. While it is not required that you include the credit for an image you purchased, Fotolia appreciates it and you can benefit. Look to the end of this module to see what I mean! Whenever someone clicks on that link, they are taken to the Fotolia website. If they decide to buy or sell images, I earn a commission for each transaction. This means that I get even more credits to use on images.

Books to Help Improve Your Photography

While I regularly use stock photography on my lenses and website, I am also attempting to improve my skills so I can use my own images more often. After all, if I am taking my own pictures then I can create the exact image I want instead of hoping someone else has. Take a look at these books for tips and ideas of how to improve your own photography. This might help you improve the images on your website or you may even consider starting to sell your work!

Supporting Photographers

While there are many Creative Commons images available online, and I regularly use several sites to find images that suit my needs, I enjoy using stock photography websites because I can directly support the photographers with more than just image credits. Although the fees for Fotolia images are small, it makes me feel good to know that I am paying for the images and helping to support the work that the photographer does.

Taking great images for websites isn't easy, or we would all be able to do it. However, in the same way that I create content and write articles, these photographers are using their talent to create. It's important to show appreciation in whatever way possible, starting with proper attribution. I love that Fotolia gives me easy ways to give commission to the artist as well.

Tell us about your experience and your favorite ways to find the perfect image online. Do you like Creative Commons? Public domain photographs from the government? A different stock photography site? Help someone else find what they need!

Have you used Fotolia or other microstock photography sites?

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    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I do use quite a few of them, including Fotolia, Shutterstock and istockphoto. I check the coupons available on a regular basis and will stock on credits whenever I find a good coupon (earlier this year i got a nice 30% off at iStockphoto).

    • BlueObsidian profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      @anonymous: When you purchase the image, Fotolia actually provides the text that you need to use. It is basically just "(c) PHOTOGRAPHER -" If you hover your mouse over any of the pictures on this page, you will see what I mean. While you don't need to link the text under Fotolia's agreement, I always link to the Fotolia website using my affiliate link. I've ended up with a few referrals this way, which helps me earn extra credits!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      your first paragrpah quite writely mentions how confusing it is for a non lawyer to know what they can and can't do. But you don't mention an obvious questino about fotolia. If i buy the image, do i need to attribute the photogrpaher? if so, in what format? do i need to have a hyperlink going to their site or what?

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      6 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi thanks for the info and tips about Fotolia.

    • Camden1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I haven't heard of Fotolia, but I'll have to give it a try. I've used Flickr some - there it's fairly easy to search for photos that are licensed under the Creative Commons.

    • plrang profile image


      6 years ago

      Well.. I only sell there images, but it workks very well for me as a contributor too

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You just introduced me to another site. I have vowed to organize my pictures and submit some to photo sites but I just can't seem to do it. Thanks for the introduction.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Fotolia. I think it's a great idea to contribute to the site if you have photos of your own and then earn credits that an be used to buy other photos from the site which you find useful. I use a variety of sites for images including creative commons, public domains, and affiliates like AllPosters. Blessed!

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 

      6 years ago from California

      I haven't used Fotolia or any stock site yet but I think the day may come. I try to use my own images as much as possilble.

    • LisaDH profile image


      6 years ago

      I've used Fotolia and other stock photo sites, and I love them for all the reasons you mention. It's often easier and quicker to find the perfect image on a stock photo site rather than searching all over the web for a Creative Commons image.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I use or Creative which gives you a choice of sites to choose from. They both plainly show if all rights are reserved, or only some rights reserved. I never use anything that says all rights reserved, because that's exactly what it means, and you can't use it. When it says some rights reserved, beneath the photo will tell you what rights the photographer has reserved. Most of these are just that you give them credit wherever it is used. I don't like to pay for photos, because that cuts into my profit from writing. Just thought I'd mention these things, in case anyone else doesn't want to pay for images. Thanks for sharing these tips for Fotolia.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've used different ones in the past, but not Fotolia yet.

    • card lady 2 profile image


      6 years ago from Midwest, USA

      I haven't heard of Fotolia. I'm going to check them out!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Not yet

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for the tips! I've wasted lots of precious time trying to find the 'right' image, and to make sure that I am honoring copyright restrictions. These images look great, and I'm heading over to check out Fotolia.

    • BlueObsidian profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      @collectors-corner: Great question! Fotolia does not ban photographers for rejections (when I first joined, about half the images I submitted were rejected!) so you have plenty of opportunity. Some people do get discouraged because they have a slightly higher than average rejection rate, but that's one of the reasons I like buying stock images there. I know the quality is good.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I might try submitting some of my work on Fotolia. Do we get many chances to be accepted of to they just ban us if they refuse our first photos (some site won't allow you to submit more work after a couple of rejections).

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Enjoyed reading up on this, these photos are amazing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      yup, I contribute to Fotolia as well as about 6 others :) Haven't downloaded any yet tho - I tend to write about stuff I know well which is usually photography, travel or cooking so I have a good stock of my own images to use.

      If I don't have an image then I tend to look on Zazzle first & make it a product link. Zazzlers are all trying to make a bit of cash too so it helps them & me if someone likes the image & maybe buys something from there. That way we all win :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      I've used other stock photo sites, but not yet Fotolia - thanks for the introduction!


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