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Aashika Kansara

New member
Today, while talking about photography with one of my fellow classmate, I came across Stock Photography.

For a long time we were talking about Stock Photography and stock photographers. But what is Stock Photography all about? Why is it that all the companies go for Stock Photography?
Stock Photography, in a layman’s language, is when photographs are shared with licensing attached.

The term Stock Photography refers to a supply of photographs which are licensed for specific use, most commonly to fulfill the needs of creative and design-assignments, without the need to hire a photographer.

Stock Photography is primarily used in printed advertisements, brochures, magazines, and websites, though there are many other ways it can be used.

Stock Photographs are usually not as expensive as what a company will have to spend in account of having shoots, hiring the best photographer, the models, location, traveling, etc. All they need to do is a few clicks and they get there photos delivered along with the necessary licenses. The key to Stock Photography is not so much the photo itself but the photo's ownership. The simple reason why Stock Photography is more popular than the usual assignment photography is that it is less time consuming, and saves lots of money.

Various big and small companies come up with new campaigns, ads, flyers, billboards, press releases, etc. But for all these they need the best photographers, best location, the correct models for the shoot, and also a huge amount of funds. It is better that the companies buy these photos instead of spending lakhs of rupees on shoots, models and photographers. This saves time of shooting the right picture and makes sure that the campaign starts as soon as possible.
Instead, what these companies do is that they purchase that suit best to their campaign from the internet. But where do they find these photos from? There are various Stock Photography Sites who sell images of various photographers. There are various photographers who just do Stock Photography. They shoot and then sell their images to these Stock Photography websites.
An amateur photographer always is keen on selling his clicks and becoming a part of the industry. The best place for these photographers is Stock Photography.

Stock Photography is usually very expensive and no small company will buy images which are expensive. They go for Micro Stock Photography.

Micro Stock Photography is where you get images at a very low price and small companies can easily afford those photos and use them in their campaigns, ads, etc.

Stock Photography can be advertised with a number of added-benefit licenses. Two of these licenses include Royalty-Free, and Rights-Managed Stock Photography.

A Royalty-Free license, often advertised as RF, means that once bought, the buyer may use the image as much as they like without having to pay additional fees every time the image is used. Purchasing royalty-free photography enables the buyer to use the image multiple times for multiple purposes whilst only paying a one-off fee. There's no limit on how many times the buyer can reproduce a royalty-free image and there is no time limit on when the buyer can use the image. However, when stock images are listed as royalty-free, buyers are unable to claim or buy exclusive rights to the image and the photographer may sell the image as many times as they want.

One thing to consider with Stock Photography regarding royalty-free is that exclusive rights are non-existent. If a publication wants to be unique from the others, then royalty-free images are not the way to go.

Rights-managed licenses, often advertised as RM or "licensed images” provide the buyer with assertion that the image will not be used by anybody else in a conflicting manner. Rights managed images often allow a much larger print run per image than the general Royalty-Free license. A RM agreement may include exclusivity and usually recognizes that this represents added value. However, not all rights-managed images are exclusive, specific terms and conditions can be found in the agreement between the buyer and seller.

During this time frame, no one else will be able to use that particular image for any reason. How long that this will go on will depend on the contract negotiations that are made for the image.
Since there are so many photographs available, the task of users finding the pictures is made easier by Keywording the images. Photographers get their photos key worded so that their clicks are on a higher rating and are sold so that even the photographers can earn some money.

Michael Nagel

Active member

Thanks for the nice summary - I am pretty confident that most people here are aware of the implications of stock photography and the influence of micro stocks, so let me ask two questions:
What is your point?
What does it have to do with ' Local Photography Shoot'?

Best regards,

Aashika Kansara

New member
I am just a photography student and while discussing with friends on photography came to know of the various things in Stock Photography... so just thought of sharing it... thats it...
Talking about Local Photography Shoot, din't get any other category where it could fit in... Sorry!!!

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
I am just a photography student and while discussing with friends on photography came to know of the various things in Stock Photography... so just thought of sharing it... thats it...
Talking about Local Photography Shoot, din't get any other category where it could fit in... Sorry!!!
If you are a photography student, you should realize that stock photography is dead as a way of doing business. It used to be a convenient way to make a bit on the side in the 70-80s. In the 90-00s, it became fashionable to try to "shoot stock". The reality of today's market is, however, that there is a glut of stock imagery and that the traditional buyers have found other ways of getting their pictures. Many traditional stock agencies have gone bankrupt or have been bought by their competitors and even the market leaders aren't doing well. Microstock agencies are quickly following the same path.

The history of stock is that, after the war, major newspapers needed to send a photographer at the other side of the planet to come back with pictures. While the photographer was abroad, he could divert some time to take imagery of, say, buildings and people just in case an article would later be written involving the country he was sent to. Nowadays, newspapers have less money than they used to and present the news on their website the minute they know about it. They don't have the money or time to send photographers on assignment (unless there is a really big event, maybe). On the other hand, the people living on the place have a cell phone with a camera which produces pictures good enough for a news web site. And when they need reference imagery about a country, there is a wealth of public domain photos from tourists. Traditional stock is not needed any more.

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

Well it's true that stock has tanked, but there are still a few well organized folk making money on stock photography, but they really know what's needed and that's all they do.


Alain Briot

pro member
They also shoot a massive number of photographs each year. Last estimate I heard from a pro shooter was upwards of 20,000 photographs added to his collection every year to make it viable. One has to mitigate shooting and other activities in such a situation. It's clearly a quantity business!

Jena Wryth

New member
Stock photography has evolved a lot over the years and has created a niche in our industry.

All companies care about is their bottom line and this leads to a highly competitive market for designers, photographers, etc.

Designers and social media people want tons of images but cannot afford to hire a photographer every time so they use stock images.

Some companies that market stock images for photographers take a ridiculous commission, 70% - 80% leaving only 20%-30% for the photographer, so in that respect, I think it sucks.

Other agencies give the photographer 50% - 70% which is still low in my book. then you have to deal with subscription models where they basically give your images away for a few pennies, major ripoff.

Stock photography is also time consuming, research, planning, shooting, editing and retouching, adding keywords, uploading, etc. When you invest this much time, YOU want a return on your investment, not pennies!

That being said, you can look at some of the higher paying stock agencies or rights managed agencies and submit to them. It is a numbers game so the more high quality, relevant images you have, the more you will make. You could aim for around 5000 to 10000 images (hundreds of hours of your time) to see a return.

Also, it is still better to have a portfolio just in some investors or future clients want to see more or invest on your skill.

Good Luck!

Jena Wryth

New member
Another thing, if your really want to earn money through stock photography ('cause I know it's not yet DEAD), maybe you should consider that top searches in stock photography websites are about people (kids, family, men or women), and travel photography.