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Terms Used in the Stock Photography Business
By Kelly Paal
So you are a small business person or web designer and you want to purchase some stock photography for your website. Great. Photography is a wonderful way to improve the emotional impact of your site. But there are a few terms unique to the stock photography business that you should know.
Royalty Free - you’ll see this term often. What it means is that you pay a one time fee for an image and you can use it for as many times as you want for as long as you wish. It is a great way to get inexpensive photos. Now if you are concerned that your competitor would or could use the same image as you, photographers and agencies can continue to sell the image after you purchase it, then you need:
Rights Managed - this one is next term you’ll see. This means that you pay a fee for the image based on how, where, how long, and how many people will see the image. This one will cost you a lot more in most cases. This is worth it if you do not want your competitor using the same image for the same purpose. Usually the stock agency or photographer also agree not to sell the image to others in your field for the time that you are using the image. So you can see why this option protects your use of the image but you’ll also pay much more for this protection. Remember too that, at some point, you decided to discontinue using/paying for the image the agency or photographer can then sell the image to someone else, even someone in your field.
Flat Rate - this term isn’t quite at common but it is similar to royalty free. Usually this means that you pay a one time fee for an image, but it can only be used for one purpose by one person. Pricing will be higher than royalty free but less than rights managed.
Copyright - even with royalty free you are still only purchasing the right to use an image not the image itself. All images are property of the agency or photographer who owns them. How do you know who owns them, there is usually a © symbol with date and name of the person or agency who owns the image. No matter what you paid for the image you are NOT the owner of the image. This means you cannot remove the copyright information, alter the photo, use it as part of a logo that you own a copyright, or resale the image as your own.
These terms will get you started but remember there can be differences in these definitions from agency to agency and photographer to photographer. Every agency and photographer selling stock images should have a legal or license page to explain these terms and any others that they use, if they don’t you may want to move onto another site. Be aware, read all the information, and know what you are buying.
you have some specific questions please visit my Photography Forum at:
and post your question there.
How to Choose Stock Photography for your Web Site
By Kelly Paal
1. Decide where you want to purchase your stock photography. There are large agencies and small independent photographers. While the agencies will have more to chose from and sometimes lower prices an independent photographer will offer more personalized service and opportunities for you to have custom work done, if that is what you need.
2. Don’t go in expecting to find an exact image that is in your head, a large agency or an independent photographer will not have the man in a blue suit, holding a cell phone, next to the white blinds nor will they have the beach landscape with the green and white striped chair. You need to have a clear idea in your head of the message that you want to convey and search for an image that creates the message that you want. (If you want something specific you’ll have to pay for a photography to shoot to your specifications.)
3. Make use of a free comp image to try out the image and make sure that it fits with your project or web design. Most stock agencies offer some sort of free comp image for position only so that you can make sure that you like what you’re going to buy. Please use this option, if available, and make sure that the image is going to convey the message that you want it to.
4. Pay for what you need. Don’t pay for a 300 dpi image for a web design, and don’t buy a 72 dpi image for something you intend to print. Make sure that the agency or independent photographer offers at least a printable and a web version of every photo. Buy only the size image that you need for your job.
5. How much do you want to pay and for how long to you want to use the image? This comes down to royalty free or rights managed. If you don’t want the chance of your competitor using the same image or you plan to use the image on or for a product you may want to look at rights managed. This will cost you more but it will lessen the chance of your competitor using the same image. Keep in mind that if you’re using the image for an extended period of time you will have to pay for the use of the image every year or so. If you don’t feel that your competitor using the same image is a threat or you don’t have the money for rights managed photos look into royalty free photography. This product is also great if you’re planning to use the images for an extended period of time.
hope these tips help to get you started in choosing stock photography
for your web site, business, or product. Remember to shop around and look
for what you need. Also if an agency or photographer doesn’t have
what you need ask, you may be surprised how helpful they can be even for
2004 Kelly Paal
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