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What is Stock Photography

If you are an experienced stock shooter, you may find that what you knew years ago no longer applies today. Perhaps some of the following statements may seem simple. Still, you would be surprised how many people today want to sell their images and are asking straightforward questions so as not to make mistakes.

Stock photography is the business of licensing images. Licensing an image grants someone the right to use your image for advertising, informative, decorative, or any other possible use. It is essential to know that even though a client may have obtained a license for using your photograph, its rights continue to belong to you, the person who took it.

As the author of a photograph, you have different licensing options:

1. Rights Managed (RM) photographs are licensed for a specific use, a set amount of time, and in an exclusive or non-exclusive mode. Non-exclusive means that you can sell the same image to anyone interested in licensing it, and exclusive implies that only one person can use your photograph for a negotiated period and usage. All of these different factors could affect the final price of your photo.

2. Royalty Free (RF) is a non-exclusive license to use any image for a one-time fee. The client can use the image for as long and in as many different ways as they would like without paying any additional fee ever. Originally a simple and less restrictive solution to the complex price calculations for Rights Managed licensing, the low-priced variations of RF business models introduced today have severely diluted the historical value of this type of license.

3. easyFotostock Low Budget Royalty Free (LBRF) is a kind of Royalty Free model that agefotostock introduced a few years ago in response to a wave of lower stock photography prices. The concept aimed to generate income by accumulating sales at lower unit prices thanks to a massive offer into the Internet possibilities. The economy of scales created in photography thanks to technological developments and photographers' decision to accept lower prices for their work was the main reason for agefotostock to introduce this LBRF model, branded "easyFotostock."

Nonetheless, easyFotostock keeps simple stock photography rules. It licenses individual images instead of selling credits but sells subscriptions, giving clients the right to download a predetermined number of images daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. Even though still easyFotostock yields a bit better final pricing and keeps a higher (50%) income split with photographers.

For more information about this license, visit the easyFotostock Photographer's Area.

4. Microstock (MS) is a highly low-priced Royalty Free licensing model offering two options to license images by advance payment:
a) it sells credits to clients that allow them to download several low-priced RF images;
b) it offers "subscriptions," giving clients the right to download a predetermined number of images daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly.
Credits and subscriptions are attractive for clients and profit sellers but are unfavorable for photographers. Royalty per image is calculated by dividing the amount spent by the client by the agreed total number of photos to download. Photographers are then paid based on the number of times their images have been downloaded. If the client does not download all the images agreed upon and paid for, the profits go to the seller, and no additional money is paid to the photographers. Therefore, no matter how much photographers receive, the seller of the subscription always benefits.

Having read the options above, it is evident that a photograph can't be sold simultaneously as RM, RF, and the modern derivatives like LBRF and MS. RM licenses set their prices according to the factors discussed above, such as territory, usage, and exclusivity. All of these factors make RM pricing flexible. On the other hand, RF pricing is fixed, not adjustable, so classical RF is struggling in today's market. Traditional RF licensing sets its prices according to the quality of the image (decided by the stock agency that represents it) and the size of the digital file. Everything smaller than 50 MB will be cheaper, and everything larger will be more expensive. Generally, clients today are more focused on the price than on the quality of the image, so the less expensive image will probably have a higher chance of a sale.

If you have any doubts, or need further information, please contact


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