Guidelines for Using Stock Photography

If you can't find the photo you need at UC Davis Photos, you may want to consider stock photography from a professional online distributor.

Stock photography can be a very helpful resource, but it can easily get you into trouble. When using stock photography, keep these things in mind:


  • Use professional online photo distributors, such as Getty Images and ThinkStock.
  • Use current images. Out-of-style fashions and other anachronisms can distract or confuse the audience, unless you’re working on a period piece.
  • Represent campus with actual campus photography. Stock images can be used to convey conceptual images, but never to suggest people or activities on campus. For example, it's okay to show a healthy family from stock to suggest a healthy lifestyle in a piece about nutrition, but never to suggest UC Davis students or faculty in that program.
  • Stay consistent from one image to the next for a single publication, web page, or for a family of publications. It's easy to come up with a mish-mash of strong and conflicting styles when using stock, so take care when choosing photos that work together.
  • Credit photography in accordance with the usage rights required by the stock provider. You can usually find this easily. If it isn't clear, search for it.


  • Use photography found on the web unless it is from a stock photography provider and acquired through purchase. The only way around this rule is to contact the author/owner of the image and get permission in writing. You would also need to acquire the images at a resolution high enough to reproduce properly for the intended use.
  • Use an image to suggest or imply something that isn't accurate. Stock photography must always be honest.
  • Use photography marked for editorial use only in anything that is not strictly journalistic.