Understanding Stock Photography

Do you know what stock photography is all about? How does it work? While the answers to these questions may seem obvious to professionals in the advertising, record management, graphic design, visual art industries, we can’t bet the same for everyone else. Today, we take you to the discovery of stock photography.

You surely have found yourself looking for images on the web to illustrate a project or for any other purpose. Doing so, you came across tens of proposals, some from the stock photography industry without knowing.

What is stock photography
Simply put, stock photography is the supply of photographs often licensed for specific uses. This is usually the activity of companies, agencies, funds specialized in the trade of images.

A little history…
The image business is not linked to the digital revolution, even though the latter has greatly modified the activity of the actors involved.
Stock photography dates back in the 1920s. Originally, contents were personal collections of photographs in the form of slides that their owners put at the disposal of newspapers and magazines. These collections have gradually expanded to include images from diverse sources. H. Armstrong Roberts is known to be one of the first to found a stock photography library.
Towards the mid-1980s, the industry witnessed a gradual migration of stock photos from physical to digital with their storage in servers and the use of keywords to sort and retrieve them. Gently, prosperity started to be felt as more and more entities resorted to stock photography, including ad agencies.
In 2000, the first stock imagery was launched on the Internet known as a microstock. It came to grant access to stock photos to a wider audience.

Typology of stock photography
The stock photography industry has since developed around three models: macrostock, midstock and microstock.
Macrostock is the traditional stock photography business. Here, high prices are charged and exclusive content offered.
Midstock is intermediate between macrostock and microstock.
• Finally, microstock refers to the low priced royalty free stock photo industry. Microstock agencies have an inclusive approach to photography. They give the possibility to amateurs to sell their contents in the same way as professionals.
Over time, we have witnessed a diversification of the resources offered by stock agencies, especially micro and midstock. Vectors, illustrations, videos and audio files are now sold alongside photographs. Graphic designers, marketing professionals, filmmakers, bloggers, journalists, individuals could therefore access a variety of audio visual resources at affordable prices.

About stock photo agencies
Stock photo agencies and microstock agencies in particular, are middlemen. They collect visual resources from authors and sell them to buyers. Authors, which agencies call contributors, are professional or amateur content creators. They propose resources that are reviewed before being sold.
Contributors are entitled to at least 20% of the selling price of their stock resource. This varies according to agencies and can go up to 75% depending on sales volume, assignment contracts or copyright management agreements.
Stocks are sold under license. These transactions are centred on the transfer of exploitation rights, not property rights. We usually distinguish two types of license agreement: royalty free and right managed.
Under royalty free license, resources can be used multiple times once the license is acquired.
On the other side, right managed license gives exclusive, time-limited use of a stock resource. This license is granted on a pay-per-use basis, which means the resource is used for a particular project, for a set period of time and/or in a specified location.
A third category of license can be added to the above mentioned; the extended or enhanced license. This license allows an extension of the uses of a previous licensed work (usually royalty free). It may include increased number of copies, use for resale purposes or allow for other distribution and usage methods. We hope you have a better understanding of stock photography now. Do not hesitate to comment and share this article.

We hope you have a better understanding of stock photography now. Do not hesitate to comment and share this article.

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