Digital photography has opened up the field of photography in unprecedented ways. Today, a photographer no longer has to have access to or be a wizard in the darkroom. Instead, he or she needs to master the realm of digital imagery and computer photo manipulation. Because today’s images are already in a digital format, it makes it that much easier to upload and transmit them. This has led to an increasing number of stock photography sites and has allowed those who need the services of a photographer – either as publishers or consumers – to have more choices than ever before.
What is Stock Photography?
Imagine, for a moment, that you publish a travel magazine, newsletter, or website. You’re running a story on travel in Europe, and you need photography to accompany the story. One way of obtaining those images is to send a staff photographer to Europe to get the Europe shots you need. Another way is to hire a freelance photographer based in Europe to go out and take the Europe shots you want. Each of those options is incredibly expensive. The third approach is to purchase stock photography. These are images that a photographer already has, and that are available for you to reprint.
The Advantages of Stock Photography
The primary advantage of stock photography is that you can get the Europe shots you need at a fraction of the cost of using your own photographer or hiring a freelance photographer. There are two types of stock photography: royalty-free and rights-managed, or RM. Most stock photography websites offer both royalty-free and RM images. Royalty-free images are usually less expensive than rights-managed images, but those images are also more widely used. In other words, the royalty-free photos you publish will also be published by hundreds or thousands of other publishers.
Rights-managed stock images, on the other hand, are not as widely circulated. The fee for using the image is typically based on whether or not you want exclusive use of the photo (if so, the cost is higher), how large the photo will be when it’s published, and the circulation of publication. For example, a 1/4-page Europe shot on an inside page of your travel magazine will cost less than if you were to use the image on the cover of your magazine. Likewise, if your magazine has a circulation of 25,000, the image will cost less than if your magazine has a circulation of 1,000,000.
The ability to view and immediately download stock photography is another enormous advantage of stock images. There’s no need to wait for negatives, positives, slides, or prints; you can simply view all of the available images and download those that you want at whatever resolution you need. Because the images are digital, there is no degradation of quality, as is often the case with duplicated transparencies, for example.
Consumers Benefit from Stock Images, Too
Photography has long been recognized as an art form, and people are increasingly choosing to display photography as art in their homes. If, for example, you treasure your travel adventure to Europe, you can easily find photos for sale from photographers who sell stock images. You can obtain high-quality pigment prints that will remind you of that special trip for years to come.
Stock images are ideal for both publishers and consumers, and the availability of such images is made possible by the digital revolution.