What is Stock Photography?

Stock photography refers to images that can be licensed for public or commercial use and can usually be found on professional websites. These are images that can be used for any marketing, advertising, or design purpose as long as they are not illegal or harmful. Many advertising companies, graphic designers, web designers, and other professionals frequently use stock images to fill their design needs rather than incurring the expense of hiring a photographer to take unique photos.

Stock photography licenses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When a buyer buys a “royalty-free” photograph, the buyer gets permission to use the image for a limited number of times for a set fee; for example, the fee could cover use of the image for up to 5,000 brochure copies. The buyer will have to pay a fee for each additional printing if they want to use the image after that. Each buyer of royalty-free images is not the sole owner of the image. Multiple buyers can buy it and use it, so one photo could appear in multiple ads or brochures.

A “rights-managed” license requires the buyer to pay for each use of the image, and fees can be significantly higher than royalty-free images, often in the thousands of dollars. A rights-managed license, on the other hand, gives the buyer exclusive ownership of the image for a set period of time, usually a year. No one else may use the image for any purpose during this time, and the photographer is not allowed to resell the image until the license has expired.

The stock photography industry began in the 1920s, when H. Armstrong Roberts founded a company. It was primarily used at the time to market outtakes from commercial photography shoots professional photographers. Many photographers nowadays, on the other hand, take photos solely for the purpose of stock photography. Even if the photographer does not add new photos on a regular basis, a photographer with a large portfolio can earn a significant amount of money each month selling use of their images through a photography website.