Stock photography is different from traditional photography in that it acts more like a database or “stock” of pictures in which other creative artists can use for their own work. It eliminates the need to hire or consult a photographer every time a photograph is needed and also provides some variety of photos. Anything could be called stock photography.
Stock photography is easy and convenient; photos can be viewed, purchased, and then received completely online. This type of photography is produced in traditional photo studios and is taken with a diversity of models and objects. Price ranges can vary from free to thousands of dollars. This is all dependent on a couple of things, such as quality, usage, and even buyer. For example, if a photo is purchased for use on a website, it would be much cheaper than if an advertising agency purchased a photo to use on a billboard.
Smaller photos and thumbnails are also often less expensive than large print materials. Stock photography websites have huge galleries of high quality stock photographs for users to select from, and cover almost every subject matter imaginable. The images can be previewed in full size, but they contain a watermark that cannot be removed and that will appear should any user try to copy and paste the image to another location or make a print of the image. Sometimes, websites will disable the ability to copy and paste on their website to protect the photos. When a stock photo is purchased, it is sent to the client in high quality files without a watermark, and it’s ready for use! The types of buyers for stock photography ranges. Oftentimes advertising agencies and magazines will purchase stock photography for usage in their print materials. However, owners of websites and blogs will also purchase stock photography, and graphic designers will purchase it for use in manipulation and other art projects. Yearly, the stock photography industry generates about $2 billion dollars!
There are two major types of stock photography currently: Royalty-free and Rights-managed. Royalty-free images ask for a one-time charge for the image. The buyer can then use the image whenever he/she feels the need. Oftentimes the tradeoff with royalty free stock photography is exclusiveness. The photographer can sell their image to as many people as they would like. In rights-managed images, there are terms of a license that are often determined by the photographer. Rights-managed images are exclusive; the buyer is the single owner of that image and no other customers may purchase or use the image. A common misconception is that the buyer “owns” the image when they purchase it. This is not entirely true. What is typically happening in the purchase of stock photography is that the buyer is purchasing the right to use an image for a certain purpose for a certain amount of time. Anyone can pursue stock photography, as long as they are imaginative, creative, and have a camera that they know how to use. It is all about the target audience and look. Stock photography often has an element to it that is not found in traditional photography, and while a professional studio and setup is not required, it can be very helpful. Pursuing stock photography is about learning about the market and getting out the camera.