Hello friends! Today we're talking about stock photos, etiquette, and copyrights. If you are using stock photos, signed up to receive free stock photos, or have hired someone to create brand or product photos for you, then I hope this will be helpful to you in navigating stock photo etiquette. 


With intellectual property you often run into two types of licenses, exclusive or non-exclusive. In both cases, the creator of the property retains the copyright of their intellectual property, but can choose to license their property for compensation. With an exclusive license, the copyright holder is licensing their intellectual property "stock photos" to one exclusive individual. With a non-exclusive license, the copyright holder can license their stock photos to multiple individuals.  

The Elah Tree Stock Collection has a non-exclusive license agreement and it's super simple. The Purchaser (that's you) may use the image for personal or professional use in the normal course of your business. You may crop the image and overlay the image with text or pdfs that fit your needs. You may even paint out certain props within the image. There are two major things to know about the Elah Tree non-exclusive license. One, I, remain the sole and exclusive owner and holder of the copyright of the image, and in turn, you may not alter, edit, manipulate the images, or sell, lease or loan the images.  Two, the non-exclusive license means images within the shop can be purchased by multiple buyers. But we do put a cap on them. ;) 

One of the most heart breaking things that happens to stock photographers are when their images are stolen and used without their permission. I think people forget that when they take someone's photos without compensation they are stealing from them. They forget that the images that photographers create are supporting their livelihood, it's how they pay their bills, it's how they take care of their family.   

Not lets talk etiquette... ;) 


I think something that most people wonder about when purchasing stock photos is how to properly credit a photographer or whether they need to credit that photographer at all. Here is the great thing about purchasing stock photos, you do not have to credit the photographer, anytime or anywhere. When you purchase your photos, those photos come with a non-exclusive license. You have purchased that license as a part of the image and you are able to use the image for personal or professional use as you see fit. 

If you love the photographer and want give them a shout out on social media, I'm sure they will love it, but in regards to etiquette, you do not have to. 


What about if you are receiving free stock photos from a photographer? I personally see this as a grey area.  The photographer is releasing their photos to you for free for you to use in a personal or professional manner. Etiquette in this case will be on a case by case bases based on the photographer. Some photographers will ask that when you use their free stock photos that the user use the photographers hashtag to help spread the word about their work and shop. It would be rather difficult for the photographer to force everyone to do this, but in regards to stock photo etiquette this may be one you want to follow. 

When I send out free stock photos a part of my email says, "Share the love and tag #elahtreestockcollection." This isn't a requirement when using Elah Tree Free stock, but it sure does make my heart happy when you do. :) 



If you have hired a photographer to create custom brand photos the etiquette is basically the same as when purchasing stock photos from the shop. You have hired them to perform a service and with your images you also receive that non-exclusive license, you do not have to credit the photographer, anytime or anywhere. All Elah Tree clients agree to a non-exclusive license instead of an exclusive license, because I use the created images within my portfolio, website and social media. When I create custom photos for clients, their images are only available to them. Do I love it if they give me a shout out on social media, absolutely? Do they have to? Not at tall. 

Photography, copyright, license, and etiquette can sometimes be confusing. When in doubt, I say ask the photographer. Do you have questions about photography, stock photos, or etiquette? Send them my way! xoxo. Samantha 


I made the switch to Squarespace a little over a year ago and I'm so glad I did! At the time I was focused on my blog and trying to determine what my next steps would be for the business. When I made the switch I wasn't quite sure what my offerings would be, but I knew I wanted to set myself up for growth. At that time I figured I had two options; Squarespace or Wordpress. I had heard great things about both, but I needed something I knew I could tackle myself and Squarespace allowed me to do that. 

Prior to being on Squarespace I was using Blogger. I loved blogger. It was the perfect platform for me to get started on, but I knew I was out growing it and I wanted something with more features and more support. We will all grow differently within our businesses and within our creative journey. What's most important is that we find something that works best for us. Here is why Squarespace was the right platform for me and my number one choice for business growth. 


All Squarespace plans come with fully integrated e-commerce. This was huge for me as I just launched my shop. When I started with Squarespace I wasn't sure if I would have a shop, but I'm so grateful that when I went to create my shop everything was already in place. I didn't have to add anything to my plan and I didn't have to hire a designer to create a new shop page either. I simply went to my Squarespace dashboard clicked the + icon and started creating my shop. It was so simple. Just a few clicks and I was able to add an image for each individual item that I wanted to sell. I was able to set the retail price and add a sale price too. I was able to include a description for each item, include extra info and upload the file that would be delivered after purchase. 

So many things were already set up within my Squarespace site that I didn't have to figure out myself. I loved that I could easily connect our Paypal for easy check out. I loved that email notifications were all ready set up. It was so crazy easy. 


When I first switched to Squarespace I don't think I fully understood everything that was available to me. Email lists are important when growing our businesses and Squarespace makes it so easy to integrate newsletter opt-ins on every page. You can find an opt-in form a the bottom of every page of my site. You can also find a newsletter opt-in form at the end of every blog post, on my blog sidebar, and you can even access it through my annoucement bar. 

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Another thing that is huge is how easy it is to add CSS to customize your site. I only use a bit of CSS in the design of my site, but adding CSS within my newsletter opt-in to direct people to a new page was something that was really important to me. I needed to create an experience for my audience and readers. I needed to be able to direct them to mutliple pages and special pages and CSS allowed me to do that. 

There are so many more things that Squarespace offers that I love, but I am so thankful, knowing that the business can continue to grow without switching platforms. Maybe next time I'll put together another list of my favorite features. ;) Are you a Squarespace fan? What do you love most about  it? xoxo. Samantha 


There are a lot of things that will make or break your photos. Lighting is one of those things. Good lighting can make your photo, bad lighting can break your photo. And learning how to manipulate light will change the game. We're not talking about light today though, we're talking about props. Props really start to make a difference in your photos when you are able to really style all the items so they are working together. 

So... how do we get started styling props for our photos? One why is that we first have start by collecting props. Don't let the idea of collecting props intimidate you. You don't have to go out and buy buckets of props. You probably have a variety of props already in your home that you can use to style photos. 


  1. Washi Tape
  2. Ribbon
  3. Jewelry
  4. Coffee Mugs
  5. Make-up
  6. Books
  7. Pens
  8. Pencils
  9. Paper Clips
  10. Notebooks

... Planners, Ipads, cell phones, laptops, purses, twine, baskets, paint brushes... It's pretty easy to start finding props around the house when we simple take a look around. I would say that most people can find a handful of paper clips, their favorite coffee mug, their favorite purse/bag, some washi tape, a notebook and a few cute books or a magazine. 

When styling photos and collecting props the important thing is to start where you are. Look for things around your home that you think will work together. Think of a theme or story you want to tell. A few items that would fit perfectly together could be; a set of vintage books, a mug with tea or coffee, and candle, a scarf, and some kind of dessert (think chocolate or cookies.) 

There are always a variety of ways to to style photos, make sure to keep going after your first try. I rarely stop after my first shot. I keep going, I keep pushing myself. I keep trying different things. Choose a prop that you you will focus on and use the other props to create interest in your photo. Place one prop in the middle and use the other props and create framing around the edge/outside of the frame. Get started and keep going. What are some of your favorite props to style in photos? xoxo. Samantha 


We all have a specific journey we're on. Mine looks different then yours. Yours looks different then the next person and so on. Beth, wrote this really great post the other day about her journey and it really resonated with me. Starting off in our business journey is hard, no matter where we are or where we start. Even after we get started things can be hard, we get scared, we get nervous, and we doubt what we're doing. 

Do you want to know a secret about me? When it comes to business and sometimes when it comes to new things in general, I need my hand held. I need someone to come along side me and help me figure things out. I need someone to come along side me and encourage me along the way. Sometimes we need our hand held and that's totally okay. That is why we have community. We weren't meant to go through our journey's alone. My very first business was in 2009, when I started my portrait photography business... I started another business in 2013 when I opened an Etsy shop. I learned a lot during both of those business endeavors and I have learned even more as a styled stock photographer. 

If you are on the cusp of your business journey... if you are just getting started... if you are just dipping your toes in and you were wishing you had someone there with you to hold your hand, then you're in the right place. 


In any industry, especially if you're a photographer, lifestyle blogger, shop owner, calligrapher... nearly any creative field that you can enter... you have to be professional as you are becoming professional. Think about it this way. You are brand new to the photography industry. You are working hard to build your portfolio and build a client base. Most of us will begin, but till feel inadequate, because we're still in the practice of our craft. But here is the great thing. You can be professional regardless of where you are at in your journey. As you start your biz journey focus on being professional as you grow as a professional. 


No body starts a business wanting to work 60 hours a week and run themselves into the ground. What we often forget when we begin our business journey is the importance of developing a business that will support our lifestyle. When I opened my first shop in 2013 I knew I wanted to work for myself, but I didn't think through how my business would fit into our lives. I didn't know how I would fit into my business and what it would look like if my business grew. Fast forward to today and I have spent a good amount of time thinking about and developing my business in a way that works for our lifestyle. I still have plenty to learn and the business still needs to grow, but I know that I have to continue to develop my business as I go.

As you get started in your journey write out all the aspects of your business. What you want your business to be about. How your business will function, how your business will function without you, how your product will support your lifestyle and so one. 


A sure fire why to keep up with your clients and customers (and bonus: be professional) is by implementing or creating systems and templates for communicating with your audience. I have a variety of templates and systems in place that help me communicate with my audience. When I receive client inquires I have an email template that I can pull up, customize and send to clients. When people sign up for our email list they go through a system that sends them to a special thank you page and once their subscription is confirmed they receive a welcome email with their introductory styled stock. 

Systems are ideal for allowing your business to run without you. When you come to a place where you can hire help you will already have systems in place that will ensure both your business and employees succeed. 


I could talk about systems for hours. My brain works best within systems and I know my business will work best within systems as well. Something that has really helped me stay organized in my business and in my creative process is creating systems for my day to day creative process. I have used a variety of tools to do this; Trello, Align, and even paper calendars. But there has always been something that has worked for me better; time blocking on Google Calendar. The systems in which my business functions are very predictable, which allows me to work within blocks of time. When I first started this process I would review my calendar each week and plug in time for each task. Over time I learned that I was completing the same tasks every week. I figured I might as well create a plan and system that looks the same every week. That way I could plug in my tasks and projects and they would take place on the same day every week. Here is a look at how my Mondays go... 

  • 9:00am - Emails
  • 9:30am - Newsletter & Email Marketing 
  • 10:30am - Business Development / System Maintenance 
  • 12:00 - Lunch
  • 1:00pm - Photo Session
  • 3:30pm - "Open" - Any miscellaneous tasks that I have been putting off. 
  • 4:30pm - Emails
  • 5:00 - Social Engagement 

I love systems because once they are in place you don't have to over-think your schedule and things in your business won't fall through the cracks. Keep in mine this system might not work for everyone. Something that was important to my system was that I couldn't fill my day with the same thing. I knew I couldn't spend the entire 8 hours of my day shooting or doing business development. It was important for my system to create variety. That is how my brain works best. My brain stays more engaged when I add variety to my day. Create systems that work best for you. If time blocking isn't your forte, but lists are, then create a system with lists. The important thing is that you create a system that you can work from and succeed from. 


When I opened my first Etsy Shop in 2013, a part of me felt like I had to have it all figured out and if I was to be a professional I couldn't ask for help because that meant I wasn't professional. I was already feeling inadequate, I felt like asking for help made me even less of a business owner. But here is the thing. Every single one of us is figuring it out as we go. We're all asking questions and we all desire a team and community to go through this journey with.  Don't ever be afraid to ask questions and seek help from others. Questions mean you are growing. Questions mean you are open to learning. Questions mean you are ready for someone to pour into you. 

This year I treaded our taxes, there was a lot of  business stuff going on with our taxes that I didn't understand and I needed help. This was one of those situations that I sought help. After I received the help I needed I knew so much more about my business expenses and taxes that I actually felt like I knew what I was doing, haha! ;) I also send emails to friends all the time asking them questions, and they are always willing to help me figure things out.

Starting a business used to feel like this big scary thing. But really, it's just a variety of small steps. You don't have to know every single thing to get started, you simply have to start. How are things shaping up in your business journey? What are some questions you are trying to figure out? xoxo. Samantha