Stock Photography

Stock photography refers to any images or pictures that are available for common use by businesses, designers, publishers, etc. Because you may not be able to take certain pictures or particular images are so common that they cant be trademarked (a picture of an apple, for instance), you can download them from various websites to use as you see fit.

Whether you are illustrating a brochure for a small business or designing a corporate website, stock photos are an easy, fast way to decorate and enhance the texts of such projects.

Not only does using stock photography save you time because you can upload the necessary image immediately, but it also saves you money by preventing you from having to hire a photographer to take the needed picture.

Images in Stock Photography

Subjects that are common subjects of stock photography galleries include:

  • food
  • nature
  • sports
  • travel.

How to Select and Use Stock Photography

While using stock photography can save you time and money, keep in mind that these images are open to the public. As a result, your competitors or others outside of your industry can and may have already used these images in their own designs.

The trick is finding quality photographs that fit your project and dont look like shots viewers have seen before. If you fall into the trap of using stock photography that is easily identified with another company, you run the risk of losing or alienating your new potential client. Consequently, as you go through websites that offer stock photos to download, be sure to cross check various websites to find stock photography that is more unique.

Sources of Stock Photography

Initially, stock photographs were outtakes from photo shoots financed by larger companies. Smaller companies could then purchase these extra photos for a lower price. However, as technology progressed, companies stockpiled these pictures into online galleries, where other companies could shop for, buy and use the stock photography.

Today, companies or individuals can access stock photography images from a number of locations, including free, all-access public websites or private online sources that require paid memberships to access the photos.

When purchasing from an all-access stock photography library, be sure that you are purchasing the highest resolution image possible. Because various photographers can upload their images to these galleries, you may have trouble converting the image to a different size or to a file format different than the one in which it was originally taken.

Some public stock photography sites like provide a way for users to contact both professional and amateur photographers to inquire about the rights to their photos. That way almost any photo flickr members take can be licensed for use, pending approval by the photographer. Flickr members also tag their photos with specific keywords, allowing users to search for the shots they need in a variety of locations.

The most reputable sources of stock photography pictures that are commonly used in newspapers and magazines include:

  • Corbis
  • Getty Images
  • Jupiter Media.

These sites work with a network of professional photographers to get current images of almost every subject. Although some users pay to use an individual image, each of these sites also offers subscriptions for unlimited access to their images for a set amount of time.

Taking Pictures for Stock Photo Galleries

While stock photography websites offer some people easy access to the images they need, these sites also provide an open venue for aspiring photographers to get exposure for their work. By submitting the photographs they take to a stock photography company, photographers can build a client base while reaching to a national or even international audience.

If you are a photographer new to the stock photography world, joining a larger company can be time-consuming without giving you the exposure you are looking for. Instead, build your portfolio, including a variety of subjects, at a smaller stock photo gallery. Only approach the larger stock photography companies when you have a solid portfolio.

Popular subjects aspiring freelance stock photographers should shoot as they build their portfolios include:

  • everyday objects
  • food
  • items related to current events
  • nature
  • people (all ages) doing various, yet ordinary, activities.

While these tips may seem broad and easy, the key to becoming a popular stock photographer is to capture common images in an unusual way that will inspire audiences and potential clients. Composing a shot so that it has the right lighting and angle makes the difference between can make ordinary subjects extraordinary.

As you are working toward being a stock photographer, keep in mind that prices for your photos vary widely, depending on the demand for your shots and your experience. Even if you spend considerable time taking a shot that you love, there is no guarantee that the shots you take will be purchased for use. And, if they arent purchased, you likely wont get paid, no matter how much time you spent on the picture.

However, with the ever-growing number of online photo galleries, as well as the increasing demand for new stock images, stock photography is a growing industry that will constantly need images and the photographers to take them.