Stock Photography: The 5 Most Common Confusions

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As the photographer and owner of a stock photography website, I often get confused queries about what is the business of Lensdepictions, particularly from those who are not related to photography industry in any direct or indirect manner.

Here is my attempt to set the record straight by answering the top 5 fundamental questions asked most frequently:

1. What does a “Stock Images Website” mean?

The original question that needs to be answered is – what does a stock image mean?

A stock Image or a stock photograph is a photograph shot in advance, later to be licensed for specific creative and/or commercial use.

For their creative assignments’ needs publishing and advertising professionals often use stock images instead of getting images shot by a hired photographer… because stock images is a cheaper as well as a faster way to get quality images.

You can see stock images used at several places…starting from right on your desk to the corner of your street! calendars, postcards, brochures, catalogs, news-papers, magazines, product packaging, advertising pamphlets, hoardings and so on.

Nowadays, stock images are purchased and delivered online almost all the time.

And, is a website selling the license of stock images specializing in nature and conceptual stock images.

2. What does the “lightbox” mean?

Simply put, a light box is a place where you can save or collect the images you are interested in, and later, go back to decide if you want to purchase a license for it.

This way it becomes easier for the customer to take his/her own time and review the images conveniently.

3.What does it mean to “License an image” and can anyone buy the “copyrights of the image”?

At I do not “sell” my images, because as the creator of the images, legally, I always retain the ownership and the copyrights of the images.

Instead, I “license” the rights to the buyer for use of the image. Licensing is similar to leasing. The ownership of the image does not change and a licensing fee is paid for the rights to use the images based on the licensing model and the rights the customer is purchasing.

It is highly unlikely that someone will buy the copyrights of an image; in fact, it is next to impossible. Any image cannot actually be “sold” unless the photographer legally transfers ownership of his/her copyright to the buyer. It is very rare that a customer will choose to purchase the copyright of the image outright, because the fee is extremely high. Also it is the photographer’s prerogative to decline the copyright buy-out.

4. What is a “Royalty-free license” of an image?

Royalty-free license is based on the image size or dimensions, and pricing is available right when you select an image to buy. Royalty-free means you don’t have to pay any additional royalties for successive uses of the image– it’s an unlimited-use license.

Buying Royalty-free license of an image is always cheaper than its Rights-managed counter-part but it does not provide the exclusivity.

Royalty-free images can be used by the customer for an unlimited time frame. This type of licensing is good for customers with small projects and budgets, and customers who aren’t concerned about who others are using the same image.

5. What is a “Rights-managed license” of an image?

Rights-managed image licensing is based on usage, and pricing is calculated once you provide usage specifications. Generally, Rights-managed images are much higher quality, in terms of size as well as the resolution, and consequently provide high production value. Some rights-managed images can be licensed with exclusive rights also on negotiable terms.

Rights-managed images need to be re-licensed for any new use or for extending the region of use, distribution or time-duration. This type of licensing works well for customers who want their control over the use of the image.

Note: Find details on licensing of lensdepictions images here!

Part of the difficulty in trying to be both an artist and a businessperson is this: you make a picture because you have seen something beyond price; then you are to turn and assign to your record of it a cash value.

-Robert Adams

Article © 2011 Gyaneshwari Dave

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