Stock photography is a term that has become quite popular in the recent decade. And as businesses gain access to a wider global audience, thanks to online mediums, the demand for this marketing material has skyrocketed.
However, to better understand the role stock photos play in digital marketing and advertising, it is important that you understand what it is, how it works, and what are the best practices when using them.
In this article, we will explain that and more to help you better use the assets. So without further ado, let’s get started with our guide.
What are Stock Photographs?
Stock photographs are readily available sets of assets that are crafted without a specific project in mind. They can be in the form of images, vectors, illustrations, and even video footage to help individuals and organizations fill in the visual gap of their marketing strategy.
The marketing material is purchased through various licensing modules. The consumer or the user pays a fee to legally use the photos in both – personal and commercial projects. Afterwards, the fee is divided between the artist that took the photo or footage and the agency that manages the transaction or hosts the asset on their website.
Once the transaction is completed, the customer can immediately download the stock material and utilize them for their unique projects within minutes.
Benefits of Stock Photographs
Stock photographs bring a lot of benefits for businesses. But one of the biggest perks is that it saves time and money.
Hiring a professional photographer or a graphic designer to create customized images is both expensive and time-consuming. The estimated time between hiring the necessary professionals, renting photography equipment, editing, and getting final delivery can take weeks – even months.
On the other hand, stock images are already created and ready to use. In fact, you can start using them as soon as you pay for their licenses – within a matter of minutes. Their prices are also lower when compared to commissioning a photographer, model, and graphic designer.
Most importantly, most stock photos are created with a commercial use in mind. This is why they are high-quality, high-resolution photos that add the much needed attraction to any brand’s copy. With 40% of marketers using them frequently, stock photographs are an asset that you simply can’t ignore.
Stock Photos – Licenses Explained
You can use the stock photographs for many purposes including personal and commercial projects. However, stock photographs have varying licenses that give special allowances for commercial usage, modification, and sales.
When using stock assets, you will typically come across three main types of licenses: Royalty-free, Rights Managed, and Extended license. Here, we will briefly explain each license so you can easily select the right type based on your needs and budget.
The Royalty-free license is the most popular type of stock photography license as it is the most affordable and flexible. With this type of license, the buyer pays a flat, one-time fee to use the images as many times as they want and in as many projects as they want.
The Rights Managed license is different from the royalty-free license. With this type of license, you can use the image for a specific period of time. It also covers geographical location, audience size, reproduction/copy run, among other factors.
For example, you can pay a specific rate to use a single image on a particular billboard for one year. Or expand the usage to multiple billboards for more than a year. The choice is yours!
Last, but not the least is the extended license in stock photography. The extended license literally ‘extends’ the viewership of the material to a wider audience and under a large selection of uses.
For example, you can use them in material that is resold such as motion pictures, television commercials, and merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, etc.
Regardless of the license type that you opt for, remember that you cannot resell the image as your own. A buyer also cannot use the images in problematic areas such as pornography, to promote violence, alcohol or tobacco usage, and hate speech.
It is also important that you understand each license type carefully and select the one that is best fit for your unique requirement and resource. Certain usage rights also require attribution and it is best that you read the fine print carefully to ensure you abide by the terms and conditions.
Another thing to take care of when using stock photographs is the presence of models in the images. Identifiable people (especially celebrities), pets, trademarks, logos, landmarks and private properties are all considered models.
Using their images without proper permission is considered illegal and can land the users in a lawsuit that can cost thousands in fines.
Luckily, stock agencies police these releases carefully and ensures that each image with a ‘model’ includes proper releases.
Where Can You Find Stock Images?
Stock images are everywhere and you can get both – free and premium packages for the assets. However, if you need a bunch of stock photos and new ones frequently, we recommend purchasing stock photos that vet each image carefully for quality, licensing, and model releases.
Here are some highly recommended stock photo sites that you can try:
- StockPhotoSecrets: With an exclusive collection and affordable pricing, StockPhotoSecrets is a fantastic stock photo site of small and mid-sized entrepreneurs. It hosts over 5 million royalty-free images that can be used on both – print and digital mediums.
- Shutterstock: A renowned name in the stock photography industry, Shutterstock hosts one of the largest collections of assets on the internet. It works on a pay-as-you-go module and users can buy images for as low as $3.81 per photo.
- Adobe Stock: Adobe Stock accepts contributions from photographers all over the world and boasts an extensive collection with over 60 million stock photos and vectors in their database. New images are also added on a regular basis, so you will never be short of choices on its platform.
- Moose: Moose Stock Photos by Icons8 offers free images to the users as long as they link back to their main website. However, you can also buy a subscription plan that lets you use images in both – personal and commercial settings without linking.
Besides these, there are many other stock photo sites to choose from. Once you find a stock image site that you like, it’s time to start searching for actual photos. However, before you start using the image on your marketing campaign, make sure to check the licensing details to ensure the photo is harmless for you to use in commercial projects.
It is also a good idea to do a reverse image search through Google Images or TinEye to see who else is using the same image. The problem with stock images is that anyone can use them and unless you bought exclusive rights, it is a good idea to check whether they are common or not.
Images are a great way to add visual interest to your social media campaign, blog pages, websites, and other marketing material. And stock photographs serve as the best material to add visual appeal at a low cost.
These were just some of the basics we think you should know about stock photography. We hope it helps increase your awareness about the module. Good luck!