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If you are an avid blog writer or even a professional designer, you might be wondering why you shouldn't just use a snapshot when you have a need for a photo. After all, your family says you take great camera shots so why not save money and just use something you have at home?
For one reason, stock photography shots available online have been scrutinized by experts to determine if they have a high-quality composition and a dramatic impact to the viewer. A shot that has personal appeal to you may simply be boring to the rest of the world, including the audience you are trying to impress.
Additionally, with the advent of royalty free and low-cost stock photography websites, finding a professional camera shot is easy and cheap. Also, when you find such a shot, you can be assured the quality of the resolution will remain good when it's put into your publishing software.
If you are someone considering buying or selling stock photography, you might be wondering just how prices are set for such photos. In recent years, many stock sites have begun to offer royalty free CD-roms full of photos for rock bottom prices. Other shots, represented by agencies and agents might sell for unbelievably high price points. So, what is the difference?
Famous photographers will always be able to place high prices on their photos and get more money from discriminating buyers. Depending on the stock deal at hand, very strict fields-of-use may be in place or there may be virtually no restrictions on how often a photo is used. In general, stock photography deals are based on:
*The exact use of the photo, including the number of times it's used.
*Where it's used.
*The geographic market in which it is used.
*The duration it is used.
Additionally, if you are buying a stock photo for a client, helping them to create a specific brand or image in the marketplace, you'll want strict requirements on that photo because you're client certainly wouldn't want to see that image used by another company or competitor. But, if you plan to use the image for a short duration and a less critical field-of-use, buying an inexpensive shot will save you money and time in the long run.
If you are a professional photographer, you are well aware of how the stock photography market works. If you've taken pictures for lots of clients for many years, you probably have thousands of shots that are not being used.
Should you try to sell them online? And, if you do, should you make them available for as low as $1 to $40 each? The answer is, maybe. The stock photography market is literally exploding, allowing more photographers to sell more photos to more potential clients than ever before. Low-cost and royalty free sites are popping up everywhere. Perhaps you think your work is too valuable to be sold so cheaply and that is a valid point. But consider these facts as well:
*Some stock photographers earn considerable residual income on their '"leftover" stock shots. That means, while you are out in the field shooting photos, you're making money online as people download your lower-cost stock shots, available to the world 24/7.
*The market for buying stock photography has grown by leaps and bounds and will continue to do so. That means your shots have the potential to be purchased by a seemingly infinite number of buyers for a multitude of purposes.
*Low-cost stock photography can still be protected under certain copyright laws and field of use rules, so you are not "giving your creative work away" just because you sell photos cheaply online.
*Someone who buys your photo online might like it so much they are willing to pay more money for another shot you have in your collection. Stock photography sites get you noticed.
There is a wealth of laws that are devoted to the buying and selling of creative works. On one end of the spectrum, some creative works have slipped into the public domain. That means they have no rights reserved on them and are free to use. On the other end of the spectrum are highly specific and detailed rules about how a creative work, owned by someone else, can be re-used with permission.
In general, the more specific and narrow the use that is granted on a stock photo, the more money it might cost. Also, higher cost photos have less chance of being sold many times to other people, so you are not likely to see the image used many times in other places. Some stock photos sell for thousands of dollars if the photographer is famous or if the use is completely exclusive.
When you go to buy stock photography online, you'll discover that the amount and types of licensing agreements are vast. Just because you buy a $1 or royalty free stock photo does not mean licensing requirements do not come with it. You should always read carefully the consent agreement that comes with a stock photography deal. If you violate it, you can be sued.
If you are familiar with buying stock photography, you probably know that, most often, individual photos are for sale. But, the stock photography market is changing rapidly. Many online photo stock companies are now offering subscriptions as an alternative to buying single photos. When you buy a stock photo subscription you are given the chance to download as many photos as you like in a given time frame, such as three to six months.
This may or may not be the best deal for you. Consider the fact that, if you research such deals, you'll find that the price for them varies greatly. You might find one deal for $129 and another, similar deal for as high as $400. How do you know which one to choose?
Getting the best deal for stock photography is much like buying anything else: a car, a house, a boat or a toaster. The market will supply buyers with many options at differing price points. It doesn't mean that lower cost stock photography is a lower quality and it doesn't guarantee that higher subscriptions offer you anything better.
The best way to buy stock photography is to investigate the market by reading trade magazines, talking to colleagues and spending time on individual sites to determine the best deal for your use.
If you buy stock photos on a regular basis, you know that there are now a number of ways that you can obtain photos. You can go through a stock agency and have a professional researcher send you low-resolution images, pick the one you want and then wait for the transparency. While this may work well in a number of situations, most marketing firms these days are on tight deadlines. You won't be able to contact your stock agency representative at midnight when your client has asked for a design the next morning.
But, you can simply go online to a vast number of Internet-based stock photography companies, browse collections and download the right photo for your use. While it's true that inexpensive stock photos have wide open fields of use, depending on the project you may not need to strike an exclusive deal for the particular photo you need. So, an online, low-cost alternative may be the best deal and the fastest workable photo to find.
Whether you've been a professional graphic designer for many years or you just have the knack for cranking out great images, you might be wondering if there is a way to make more money with your web graphic creations.
The answer is yes. The stock photography market is currently exploding in a number of new directions. First, it is becoming available to all kinds of photographers and is no longer catering just to professionals. Secondly, in addition to countless stock photos, many stock sites are now selling both web graphics and animations at very low prices. You might be able to list your works with online sites and thereby open them up to a world-wide market.
But, as with any new venture, you should approach selling your web graphics carefully so you get the best deals for your work.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|