Stock Agencies

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Stock agencies or Stock Photography sites are where people in need of a photograph or artwork go to buy already produced images, without the need to hire a photographers service, or where photographers submit photographs licensed for specific uses.

Two types of images are usually submitted to Stock photography sites:

Royalty Free (RF)Photographs: These are where you pay a one off price in order to use the image multiple times (with limits). There is no time limit on when the image can be used. There are no exclusive rights (the image can be sold multiple times).

Rights Managed (RM) Photographs: These are where a specific usage is specified when the image is sold (e.g advertorial usage, images in a book etc), these usually offer a higher fee to the photographer as they will only be used once, with exclusive rights, but will only be allowed to be used for the specific purposes of the contract.

There are two main types of agency for stock photography, the usual stock photography sites such as the world famous Getty, major supplier to most news agencies, these specialise in the more lucrative end of the market and require high quality images, or new Micro-stock Photography sites, such as Big Stock Photos who specialise in large numbers of cheap (usually around $1) images. The micro end of the market is usually filled with much larger amounts of work, and from all types of people, not just pro photographers.

These stock photography agencies do often overlap and each has its own rules on what photographic images will pass and what will be rejected, so if you are supplying images to one of these stock photo sites, do check before you submit.

Buyers of Stock Photography

Those looking to buy photographs (or other digital images), will be shocked by not only the amount of photos/images and videos for sale but also the quality of those images etc. the top agencies are VERY strict when it comes to photographic submissions and will reject images that have even a hint of noise or that are not pin sharp.

It is as important to us photographers as it is to those buying the photos, that the best images for the job are chosen so when looking to buy search around a few sites, to find exactly what you want, and if you don't see it be sure to find ways to ask. Competition improves photographers work!

It is wise to look at a few agencies when buying (in my opinion) as they have vastly different buying formats, some require monthly subscriptions others you can buy images adhoc so find one that suits your needs in this department as well as having images you would want.

Sellers of Stock Photography

If you plan to try to sell your photographic work then it is worth knowing a few things first:

Numbers mean everything. What I mean by this are that the more images you have uploaded to any one stock photography site, the more likely you are to make sales (obviously quality counts as well). Those who make real money from stock photography sites have tens of thousands of photographs uploaded. I once read that on a particular stock agencies website, the average number of images you needed uploaded to make one sale was around 100. At $1 per sale, you can see why you need thousands of photos to make money.

Quality Control. It is important that your images meet the standard of the agencies requirements, so no noise or artefacts etc. That they are the size the require and that they are well composed.

Key Words. These are possibly THE most important part of uploading images to photography stocksites as this is how people find your images! My advice is to make sure your photos keywords are plentiful (although some sites have limits) and accurate to the photographic image. There are tools out there to help you with this (we have some listed below).

Often stock photography is seen as an easy way to make money, but to do it well takes a lot of time and good knowledge of the stock agency site you are using. It is also a very saturated market these days (since the advent of digital I am lead to believe) and some types of image (either photographic or not) are so numerous that they are no longer accepted, at certain photographic stock agencies! So please don't think you will become rich over night by loading a few images, the simple fact is you won't.

Having said all that, do join a few and see if they suit you (just make sure you research them well first to make sure they fit your needs). We have plenty different stock photography agencies listed below, both regular and micro stock (and are always adding more).

We at Fatphotographer have a number of advice articles on preparing your photographic work for stock photography websites on our how to How to Post Process pages and we are always looking to improve our advice.

As always we aim to provide as many links as we can, but if you find some that we have missed, please let us know and we will endeavour to add them where possible.

Disclaimer - In order to maintain the running of this site some of the links below are affiliate links, we do not try to push you in the direction of them, so please feel free to use any of the sites listed.

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