Stock photography

From Academic Kids

(Redirected from Photo archive)

Stock photography is photography or other imagery of common landmarks, concepts, and events that can be used and reused for commercial design purposes. Book publishers, specialty publishers, magazines, advertising agencies, film makers, web designers, graphic artists, interior decor firms, corporate creative groups, and other entities utilize stock photography to fulfill the needs of their creative assignments. By using stock photography instead of hiring a photographer to perform on location shooting, customers can save valuable time and stay on budget. With a wealth of images, stock photography databases that may be searched online save photo researchers valuable time when they are looking for just the right image. With today's digital delivery methods, images may be purchased online and delivered via FTP or email, the very same day.

Stock photography is sometimes called a photo archive, or just stock photos. The term photo archive often refers to the website or physical location where the photographs are stored. Photo archives are also sometimes called image banks. As modern stock photography distributors often carry stills, video, and illustrations, none of the existing terminology provides a perfect match for the state of the industry.


Industry structure

Images are filed at an agency that negotiates licensing fees on the photographer's behalf in exchange for a percentage, or in some cases owns the images outright.

Pricing is determined by size of audience or readership, how long the image is to be used, country or region where the images will be used and whether royalties are due to the image creator or owner. Often, an image can be licensed for less than $200. The client may, however, request an "exclusive", preventing other customers from using the same image for a specified length of time. Such sales can command many thousands of dollars, both because they tend to be high-exposure and because the agency is gambling that the image would not have made more money had it remained in circulation.

"Exclusive" photos are often referred to as rights managed. Photos that do not allow for an exclusive purchase are often referred to as royalty free.

Some stock photography sites offer low-resolution photography free for the purpose of preparing advertising comps to demonstrate a design. If the advertiser decides to use the image, the rights to use the high-resolution image then can be negotiated.


One of the first major stock photography agencies was the one founded in 1920 by H. Armstrong Roberts, which continues today under the name Retrofile.

For many years, stock photography consisted largely of outtakes ("seconds") from commercial magazine assignments. By the 1980s, it had become a specialty in its own right, with photographers creating new material for the express purpose of submitting it to a stock house. Agencies attempted to become more sophisticated about following and anticipating the needs of advertisers and communicating these needs to photographers. Photographs were composed with more of an eye for how they might look when combined with other elements; for example, a photo might be shot vertically with space at the top and down the left side, with the conscious intention that it might be licensed for use as a magazine cover. Leading agencies during this time included The Image Bank, Comstock Images, FPG, and Masterfile.

In the 1990s, a period of consolidation followed, with Getty Images and Corbis becoming the two largest companies as a result of acquisitions. Today, stock photography companies have largely moved online.

Photo archives

The following is a table of photo archives, image banks, or image search engines. If possible, please include rates or discount rates for different types of use.

Name Description Images/Photographers Commercial Educational Personal
360-berlin ( In German / English 300,000+/ ? Yes Yes Yes
Acclaim Images ( RF and RM stock photography direct from the photographer, instant access, photo requests, lightboxes, prints, clipart, and bulk discounts. 33,000 / 40 Yes Yes Yes
Action Press ( In German
AGE Fotostock ( Yes Yes Yes
Alamy Images ( Royalty-free (RF) and Licensed (L) stock photography from the world's leading picture agencies and photographers... 2,500,000 + Yes Yes Yes
Banana Stock ( $, £, € Yes Yes Yes
bigcheese ( Yes Yes Yes
BrandX ( 20,000+ / ? Yes Yes Yes
Can Stock photo ( Affordable royalty free stock photography community 11,000+/900+ Yes Yes Yes
CITB-ConstructionSkills online image library ( Images from the construction industry. Registration required. Unknown Yes Yes Yes
Comstock Images ( Yes Yes Yes ( American Photographs: Past, Present, Future.™ Yes
Corbis ( (DE ( Wikipedia:Corbis 25,000,000+ Corbis Professional ( Corbis Educational (
Digital Stock Photography ( Digital Stock Photography and Fine Art. Available for freelance assignments.1,000 Yes Yes Yes
Dennis Kunkle Microscopy, Inc. ( Scientific stock photography, mainly microscopic images Yes Classroom Only Yes
Dreamstime ( Royalty-free stock photography community 15,000+/380+ ImageBank ( Earth/Science Pictures No Free Free
fStop ( High-end, royalty-free pictures for designers 4,000/100 YesYes Yes
Fotosearch Stock Photography ( Search 50 Stock Photography Vendors at one site 800,000+ Yes Yes Yes
Free Digital Photos ( Free pictures for websites, newsletters and documents etc. For commercial and non-commercial use. 1,500+ Yes Yes Yes
Getty Images ( 25,000,000+ Yes Yes Yes
Hicker Stock Photography ( award winning stock photography, travel, nature, wildlife 15,000+ Yes Yes Yes
Iconica ( Sleek interface Yes Yes Yes
Imagesource ( UK-Based Yes
IndexStock ( First agency to go digital, huge fast site, artist-oriented, also for small business and for subscription 800,000 images and 1,700 artists Yes Yes
iStockphoto ( Fastest growing online community of amateur & semi-pro photographers & images. Images are priced on a credit system 300,000+ / 10,000+ Yes Yes Yes
iStockpro ( Royalty-free stock house featuring well-known collections & independent photographers from around the world 450,000+ / 450 Yes Yes Yes
LOOK ( Special agency for travel, outdoor, active-sports and conceptual present photography 800,000+ /50 Yes Yes Yes
Masterfile ( Offering Rights-Managed and Royalty-Free imagery to clients around the world, Masterfile is the largest independent stock photography company in North America with a fully searchable website in 6 languages. 375,000+/200+ Yes Yes Yes
Matton Images & Royalty Free Photography ( Provider of Royalty Free Stock Photographs & Images. The site can be viewed in English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, French and Finish. 600,000+ Yes Yes Yes
Mira ( The stock agency of the Creative Eye Cooperative. Artist owned, professionally managed 40,000+ Yes Yes Yes
morgueFile ( Royalty-free photos 30,000+ / 200+ Yes Yes Yes
Photofeatures International ( Music Stock photos since the 60's Yes
Photonica ( Indexed by photographer, sleek interface Yes Yes Yes
Pixerver ( Free stock photography and digital pictures Free Free Free
Seattle City Photography ( Royalty-free stock photos and prints of the Seattle/Eastside Yes Yes Yes ( Stock photos of Seattle Yes Yes Yes
ShutterStock ( Royalty free stock photography by subscription 170,000 Yes Yes Yes
the Stock Solution ( Stock photography agency 200,000 / 100
stock.xchng ( Free stock photography exchange 119,708+/? Free Free Free ( Images of 300 countries and territories - stock photography >1 million / 200 Yes Yes Yes
Trauma Imagebank ( Medical photographs of trauma Free Free Free
Veer ( Distributor and agency. Royalty-free and rights-managed images, plus motion and type products 250,000+ / 300+ Yes Yes Yes
Zefa Visual Media ( in German
Art Stock Photo ( Directory of Art Photo Web Sites 100's Yes Yes Yes

See also

External links

  • ( - Collection of royalty-free stock photography images by Jodie Coston.
  • ( - Travel stock photography and online searchable database
  • ( - Database of stock photography providers
  • ( - Diverse, premium collection of travel, concept, and lifestyle images
  • Digital Stock Photography ( - Digital Stock Photography and Fine Art photography
  • Apexphotos by Jon Bower ( - Travel and environmental images from around the world
  • Whales and Dolphins Stock Photography ( - Marine Mammals Stock Photography



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