Overview on Stock Photography and Stock Photo Agencies


Stock photography is the art of taking photographs with the intent of licensing them for specific uses. Usually, people use stock photographs simply because they are inexpensive and save time that could have been wasted during the process of hiring a photographer. The stock photographs are produced in modern studios and incorporate a wide array of models who pose as professionals expressing common gesticulation and emotions. In other occasions, pets may also be involved in those portraits. The agencies tasking themselves with the production and licensing of stock photography are popularly known as stock photography agencies. Famous niches in stock photography include images used in travel and tourism industry.

Overview Stock Photo Agencies

Types of Stock Photography

With many stock photography agencies in the market, to curb competition and enhance competence, three different packages have been developed mainly:

  1. Microstock – this package entails inclusive stock photography that is low price
  2. Macrostock – this is the traditional stock photography which deals with exclusive stock photography and therefore high in terms of price
  3. Midstock – this package deals with stock photography that is in between micro and macro; in terms of price.

Once the image is produced, there is a third party agency that files the image and negotiates licensing fees on behalf of the stock photography agency in exchange for a small fee or in rare cases own the outright of the image. Among the determinants of price include the size of the readership/audience, time of use, country or region the image will be used and whether royalties are credited to owner or creator.

The client purchasing the stock photography may request exclusive rights averting other from using the same photography for a specified duration of time or in the same business as him/her. This kind of arrangement calls for extra dollar since the client is literally preventing the agency from using the same image to make money. However, it is to be noted that with Royalty-free stock photography, getting exclusive usage right is no option.

History of Stock Photo Agencies

Initially, newspapers and magazine used to design their own photos and images. Later on, freelance photographers took on the task of taking photographs and then sell them to magazine and newspaper publishers. The trend continued till 1920 when H. Armstrong Robert founded the first large stock photography agency, today known as RobertStock. Many years passed and in 1980s there was a surge of interest into the stock photography market. Hobbyist photographers and individual freelance novice ventured into stock photography credit to the publication of series book named “Sell&Resell your Photos”.

After 1990, two largest stock photo agencies came in; Getty Images and Corbis. They dominated the market until 2000 when istockphoto came to picture. istockphoto revolutionized the industry by moving their business online and also reducing the price of royalty-free images. This was simply because high- resolution digital cameras were easily available in the wide market for newbie amateur photographers.

In 2004, other key stock agencies ventured into the market. They were Dreamstime, Fotolia and Shutterstock. The trend continued until now it is possible to take a photo using a mobile phone camera, upload it to the internet and sell it.

Top 5 Stock Agencies in the market

iStock – originally known as iStockphoto is an online micro stock photography agency. It was founded in May 2000 by Bruce Livingstone. It’s one of the stock photo agencies where an image can go for as low as $1. Over years, it has grown and consolidated its resources into purchasing other stock photography agencies such as the Getty images. Currently, in addition to selling stock Photos, it is now possible to sell stock videos under a portfolio popularly known as iStockvideo.

Shutterstock – came into inception in the year 2003 and was founded by called Jon Oringer. It prides itself with a library of over 30 million royalty stock photos, illustrations and vector graphics. In addition, just like iStockvideo, in its library, it has 1 million video clips ready for licensing. It developed Apps that can be used by people using iPads and Smart phones using Android OS. They also offer fairly often Shutterstock coupon codes online.

Depositphotos – also a royalty-free microstock photography agency founded by Dmitry Sergeev in the year 2009. Its headquarters are based in Fort Lauderdale in the United States but has offices all over the world. It also has good customer care with support in 15 different languages. There pricing is a bit different from others and for one to purchase an image, first you need to subscribe yourself with minimum monthly subscription of $49 per month. Once you start downloading the image you are charged a fee.

Dreamstime – is also another royalty-free microstock agency with its headquarters based in Nashville, TN and Bucharest Romania. It runs alongside iStock in providing inexpensive services to its clients. Its key products include: illustration, microstock photography and stock footage.

Fotolia – also based in New York, Fotolio is a microstock photography agency mainly dealing with stock photos, graphic designs and illustrator. It has a member counter more than 3,000,000 registered members trading in more than 17 million digital images.

Why purchase stock photos?

Besides saving you on time, below are a few advantages of purchasing
stock photographs:

• You choose from a wide array of photos hence quality of what you end up with suits your preference.
• With many photographers showcasing their work, you are in a good position to pick what is of good quality.
• Since all the transactions are online, you can do the purchasing anytime and from anywhere.
• You are not afraid of being sued in court for using someone’s photo without their consent.

Bottom Line – What Stock Photo Agency to use?

Before you venture into purchasing any photo, illustration, graphic design or videos online, first, you need to outline what you need and why you need it. Know your niche to avoid purchasing what will turn out to be irrelevant. Research on which agency will suit you best in terms of price, rights, what they offer and their rules and regulations. Then load your PayPal, visa, MasterCard account, log into stock agency of your choice and do the transaction. In addition, also carry out an extensive research on what clients in your niche find attractive to their eyes, this way, and the merchandise you purchase will give you the best you can think of.