A stock photography company is one that purchases photographic images, (or has in-house photographers paid to take photographs for them), and re-sells them to companies and individuals. Today, stock photography has become a widely internet-based business that marketing and advertising executives all over the world take advantage of for their marketing materials and websites. Many creative directors prefer using stock images because of its relative cheap cost in comparison to hiring a private photographer.
There are two types of stock photography: royalty-free and rights managed. Royalty free stock photography is when a photographer sells the image outright to the stock company and makes a lump sum, regardless of its popularity or resale numbers. The buyer or royalty-free photography is allowed unlimited use of the photograph, but is never guaranteed exclusivity of any sort regarding the picture. Rights-managed stock photography is done when a photographer is paid a negotiated amount down, and then paid for every picture sold through the company there on out.
The price of a stock photograph is determined by the length of contract with the stock house, the expected readership of the material the image is to be used on, and the actual form of marketing the image will be seen on. Many people can purchase professional quality stock images for less than $200.
Looking For Stock Photography
The best place to begin your search of stock photography is on the internet. There are now a multitude of sights where you can search, save and purchase images, download them directly to your computer, and use almost immediately on your marketing materials. Because of the nature of the business, and the hundreds of thousands of photographs you may have to sort through, and choosing a photograph from a stock photography site can be tedious.
Selling Your Photos to a Stock House
As a professional or amateur photographer attempting to go through a stock house for the fist time, selling your photo may seem a little intimidating. Stock houses have quotas of subject matter they need to fill, and many photographers try to sell photographs of the same subject matter, thus making a lot of competition between photographers. It's best to look outside the box when attempting to make money selling to stock houses. Stay away from subject matter for which there are already 10,000 images. Try something new, and your chances of getting paid will increase dramatically.
Overall, stock houses are looking for images of everyday people doing every day things, as this is typically what marketing and advertising agencies are looking for on their materials. Stay away from images like breathtaking landscapes and cute animals - there is not nearly as much of a need for those types of images. Images in which the subject are smiling are always more favorable than other expressions.
If you become a photographer in good standing with a stock house, you may be required to provide a backlog of your work - which can turn out to be a very lucrative thing for you. Stock houses will recognize when a photographer is particularly popular with the clientele, and want a sufficient pool of images by the same artist.
However, that's not to say that being a stock photographer is easy - because it's not. A photography selling his or work to a stock house will feel the constraints of creativity. That is, much of what they're photographing is going to be dictated on what the Marketing Directors across the world want - not what they want to be photographing. Moreover, stock photographers can rarely name their own price, the way a professional photographer can. Stock photographers are frequently in negotiations and may have to take earning cuts on a photograph they consider especially good.