Powerful imagery can do wonders for brand identity and design materials. Since we’re not all professional photographers, designers and business owners rely on the use of stock photography to help convey effective messages. How to use stock images, from a legal standpoint, has long been a grey area as most people pull photos from Google Images thinking they’re “fair game.” It’s important to realize these images are owned by someone else and by simply pulling from a Google Image search; you may inadvertently be committing copyright infringement.
Stock Photo Sources
Stock photography varies in price, licensing restrictions, and overall image quality. Below are some examples of stock photo providers that cover the full spectrum of what is available in terms of price and quality.
When you absolutely don’t have the budget for stock photography, Stock.xchang has got you covered. While results may be limited and finding decent images is hit or miss, there are option and it is absolutely free. However, be sure to read the fine print. Some images may have usage limitations imparted by the owner. Do not violate them as you could find yourself in some trouble.
Let’s face it; if you’d like a nice selection of high quality images, you’re going to have to shell out some cash. One of the cheaper starter options out there is fotolia.com. Fotolia has around 20,000,000 photos to choose from, with prices ranging between $0.75 – $7.50 per image, on average.
Shutterstock is one of the standard go-to stock photo providers for small and medium sized businesses with over 22,000,000 high-quality, professional looking images from which to choose. Their pricing model is slightly different from the norm in that you can pay-as-you-go starting from $19/image, or subscribe monthly for $249 and have access to 25 downloads per day.
Corbis was founded by Bill gates in 1989, and has one of the largest high-quality stock image archives available. While on the pricier side with strict usage terms, Corbis’ collection is exclusively the work of professionals. Exclusive images from celebrity photo-shoots as well as news, politicians, sports, historical events, people, and global images can all be found here – often for a hefty price.
You may see some licensing rights listed while browsing through images. It’s important to know what they mean in order to use the images properly and ultimately, to avoid a lawsuit.
Royalty-free products may be used by you multiple times for multiple projects without incurring additional fees. Royalty-free pricing is based solely on the file size of the product you need and the number of people entitled to use it – not the specific use itself.
Rights-managed products are licensed with restrictions on usage, such as limitations on size, placement, duration of use, and geographic distribution. You will be asked to submit information concerning your intended use, which will determine the scope of usage rights granted.
Editorial products must be used in an “editorial” manner, which means use relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest.
Stock imagery is a valuable marketing tool for so many reasons. The use of imagery grabs attention, beautifies, creates desire and tells a story. Good stock photography will add a new level of professionalism to your business; just make sure you have the legal right to use it. You may think you won’t get caught, but modern technology now enables copyright owners to identify unlicensed imagery, by a form of “digital fingerprinting,” and act to protect their rights.