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Photo Stock Images - Photo Stock Images - Stock Photo Agencies, Types of Stock Photo Images

Stock Photography

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Rather than taking time to produce new images for every project, many advertising agencies, website developers, book publishers, and others involved in creative productions purchase the right to use stock photographic images. These stock images are often of landscapes, depict typical emotions or “cute” images such as children and pets. Until the 1980s, stock photographs were often out-takes from magazines or other professional shoots. Through the 80s and 90s and now with the growth of the internet, stock image agencies and websites have grown exponentially.

When an individual or company purchases the rights to a stock photograph, they are not purchasing the rights to the photo itself, but purchasing the right to use the photograph in certain (and sometimes limited) circumstances. Other parties can then purchase the rights to the same photo.

Stock Photo Agencies

The two largest stock photography agencies are probably Getty Images and Corbis. These companies usually sell images done by professional photographers and do not use photos from the general public. A photographer who wants his or her images distributed through one of these larger agencies typically needs to present a portfolio of hundreds or perhaps even thousands of pictures in order to be considered by the agency.

However, there are also many other stock photo websites online which are known as microstock agencies. The first and still one of the largest of these microstock photo sites is ShutterPoint. On many of these websites, any user can upload a photo and sell rights to that photo. Stock images from these websites can vary in quality; however, many quality photos are also available at these sites for lower prices than those of the larger agencies.

In recent years, larger companies such as Jupitermedia.com have purchased and consolidated several of the smaller microstock agencies in an attempt to compete more directly with the larger agencies.

Types of Stock Photo Images

There are two types of licenses available for stock photos. First, Rights Managed (RM) photos have specific limits on their use and those that purchase the rights to those photos must first specify how the images will be used and how many times they will be duplicated. Beyond buying the rights to the photos, the user will have to pay another fee. A price for the rights to a RM photo is then based on specific usage, so that the wider the a photo is distributed, the higher the price will typically be. The larger stock photography agencies typically sell the rights to their photos with RM contracts.

The second type of stock photo image license is a royalty-free photo. In this situation, a person or company pays a one-time fee for more-or-less unlimited use of that photo. The small internet-based microstock agencies usually sell the rights to their photos with royalty-free licenses. Some professional photographers feel that the microstock agencies are bad for their business because they drive down both prices and quality. However, with both high quality stock photos from larger agencies and a wide range of other options are readily available, the microstock agencies do provide a service for smaller businesses and individuals who could not otherwise afford the licenses to stock photos.

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