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What Is Stock Photography? A Complete Guide

Photography, in all its forms, is as old an art as human civilization itself. Over the ages, the art of photography has refined and reinvented itself. However, with the advent of the internet, photography has reached new heights. Every single human being with a smartphone is a photographer. Stock photography gives wings to an amateur photographer and allows a budding photographer to publish captured snaps, often in exchange for money. This blog simplifies stock photography and gives you a comprehensive overview of everything related to stock photos.

What Is Stock Photography?

A quick search with ‘what are stock photos?’ would open hundreds of websites with multiple definitions and explanations. Simply put, stock pictures are with-royalty or royalty-free images uploaded by a photographer on an online stock image platform. Customers may download the images as per their requirements against a small fee. A percentage of the fee goes to the platform, and the remaining amount is transferred to the photographer. Depending on the nature and quality of the photograph and the user base and reputation of the online platform, a photographer may earn up to 75 percent of the total income from stock images

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Benefits of Stock Photography

  1. Speed – Unlike traditional photo sessions, stock images are readily available for fast downloads.

  2. Convenience – A customer may directly download stock images 24 x 7, 365 days a year

  3. Cheap – Stock photos are available at a fraction of the cost of traditional photoshoots. 

  4. Ideal for low budget projects – Stock pictures’ cost-effectiveness makes it the best choice for designing brochures, training materials, PowerPoint presentations, editorials, and low key websites. 

  5. Wide customer base – It would not be an exaggeration to state that almost every professional having online access has downloaded stock images sometime in their life. Although advertising agencies are the biggest customers of stock pictures‘ platforms, it is used by graphic designers, bootstrapped business houses, training professionals, bloggers, writers, and so on. 

  6. Unlimited Pictures – Since hundreds of new photographs get added every day, a customer can never leave wanting for more. There is always something for everyone. Shutterstock.com, for example, has over 300 million images. 

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Stock Photography Types

1. Macrostock

Macrostock, a.k.a. traditional stock photography refers to images that give exclusive rights to its users. Because of the uniqueness and exclusivity of the images, macrostock images cost higher than other image types. Although, sometimes, macrostock images are made available for more than one but a limited number of customers.

2. Midstock 

Midstock falls between Macrostock and Microstock images and offers exclusive as well as non-exclusive rights to the end-user. Going by recent trends, Midstock images are the most frequently downloaded high quality images online. 

3. Microstock

Microstock images drive revenue by volume and are available at a lower price than Midstock and Macrostock images. On the flip side though, there is a possibility that the same image has been used multiple times in multiple situations, and if a high quality website or business uses these images, it may send a negative signal to its customers. 

Stock Photography – Licenses  

The stock photography industry operates on either of the following three licenses:

1.  Public Domain (PD)

Public Domain stock images are hundred percent royalty free images with inactive, forfeited, or inapplicable intellectual property rights. While customers may use PD images without paying any money, most of these images available online are repetitive, abstract, and in low resolution. 

2. Royalty-free (RF)

Often mistaken for free images, Royalty-free images require a customer to pay the fee once and use the image multiple times without giving the photographer or online platform any royalty. Most Microstock platforms use non-exclusive RF images to boost revenue by increasing volume. The cost of RF images may be anywhere between $1 and $25.   

3. Rights-managed (RM)

Rights-managed images are premium quality professional stock images most commonly used by big businesses and individuals. The rights, however, can be both exclusive as well as non-exclusive, depending on the licensing regulations. An RM image can be used only once. If a customer wants to use it again, there will be extra charges. The cost of an RM image can be anywhere between $50 and $1100.

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How to Earn Money as a Professional Stock Photographer

Stock photography is a booming industry. This makes it all the more competitive. Only the best images find takers. Every platform has its own set of guidelines and regulations which photographers need to abide by. Five of the most popular websites which accept stock photographs on a revenue-sharing model are as follows:

1. ****Alamy

With more than 175 million stock images and vectors, Alamy is one of the largest agencies for uploading and downloading stock images. Photographers get access to the portal after filling out a form and passing a quality test. Photographs, however, may get rejected for as many as 26 reasons.

2.  iStock

iStock offers up to 45 percent revenue sharing if a photographer shares pictures only with iStock. It has a wonderful community of photographers from whom one can always seek advice. To be able to upload photos, a photographer needs to go through a quiz and upload samples. 

3. ****Can Stock

Perhaps the most responsive of all platforms, photographers get amazing exposure and up to 50 percent revenue on all photos uploaded on the platform. The availability of Can Stock images on Fotosearch makes it even more exciting.

4. ****Dreamstime

Dreamstime has over 118 million images on its database. This includes microstock and public domain images. Their filtration process makes it easy for a professional photographer to upload more images than an amateur photographer.

5. ****Shutterstock

The fact that nearly 200k images are added every day on the platform makes it one of the most photographer-friendly websites for a stock photographer. Photographers earn up to 33 percent of the revenue. The resources available on Shutterstock are the best for upgrading one’s photography skills.  

How To Click Professional Stock Pictures

It is fair to assume that, should we conduct a quiz on the basics of stock photography now, you will surely emerge as a topper. However, out of all images uploaded on online stock images platforms, only a handful of professionally clicked stock pictures reach the end customer. A professional Online Photography course can make you an expert in the trade. The first requirement is to know about photographic styles as a form of communication. You should then understand the various types of cameras, its functions, and lenses for shooting perfect stock images. Knowledge about focal length, exposure, motion, and depth gives you expertise in selecting your subjects. Understanding shutter speed and dynamics of light is equally important for clicking visually appealing stock photos. Only a professional online photography course can make you a pro in processing digital images as per industry standards. So, what are you waiting for? Devote a few hours at your convenience and learn the basics of photography online. Show off your photography skills to the world and earn handsome bucks for sharing your professionally clicked stock pictures.

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