I want to get in to a graphic design course in university. I have alot of projects in mind, however i dont know if im allowed to use stock photos...would it be ok if they were in the final piece as well (such as in a magazine cover or a brochure). I also want to do photomanipulation, but i dont know if could use stock photos for that either. Thankyou so much

  • What do the terms of the stock photos say? Generally, when you buy a stock photo, you’re buying a licence to use that photo in specific circumstances – only the licence can tell you whether your intended use is covered. Aug 6, 2020 at 19:13
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  • ill be using free stock images, the ones that r copywrite free from websites like pexel im just not sure if the unis will be ok with it or if i have to use my own photos (that would be a problem)
    – carrie
    Aug 6, 2020 at 19:38
  • There's no such thing as "copyright free" other than 75+ year old "Public Domain" images. They all come with terms and rarely if ever are they entirely rights free. Check Terms of Service and Licenses.
    – Scott
    Aug 6, 2020 at 19:40
  • oh i mean u know those website that where people add photos they took for people to download for free, so long as you give them credit for it, its those ones. sorry i thought it was called copywrite free, i'll definately do my research on licensing and stuff
    – carrie
    Aug 6, 2020 at 19:46

1 Answer 1


Stock images are typically how things are done. It not possible to travel to, or set up a custom photo shoot for every image necessary.

it's fine to use stock image in a portfolio. Be sure you purchase the images though... don't merely use Google as your image source. If asked, merely state "It's a stock image." There's no shame or harm in that.

Photo manipulation is generally okay with stock images as well. I mean I never use a straight image as it was purchased. I always do something to to it.

Just be careful with the license where photo manipulation is concerned... i.e. a stock image manipulated and then sold as a poster may be beyond any licensing terms.

I recently discovered a sticker being sold on Amazon that uses a stock illustration I created. I know for a fact resell rights weren't granted. So.. yeah.. there's a legal issue where someone is infringing upon my rights by selling a sticker.

But merely for a portfolio, to show off skills, you'd be fine.

  • thankyou so much! I was pretty stressed out about this but i guess it was nothing to worry about, and yes i will definately alter the photos in some way shape or form
    – carrie
    Aug 6, 2020 at 19:47

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