Stock Photo Agencies

Whenever you purchase and pay for a stock photograph, what exactly are you paying for? Are you buying the image or not?

Well, consider this from a different perspective. How can the MicroStock agency offer you so many photos to download? Let’s say that you found the perfect picture. You went ahead and downloaded it, and now you’re using it for your project. Is there anything keeping anyone else from downloading the same photo? Of course not – the photo is not technically yours. You’re merely paying for a license to use it. However, depending on your license, you may have access to the photo forever.

Stock Photography Is Licensed

list of stock photo agencies

What does it mean we say stock photography is licensed? It means you’re merely paying for the privilege of using it. This is why it is never a good idea to use stock photography in logos. Can you imagine someone looking at your logo that contains stock photography and see that same photo in a competitor’s brochure? Whatever credibility you had would be lost.

What is Royalty-Free Licensing?

Royalty-free licensing is the most common licensing agreement amongst MicroStock agencies. Even though you’re paying for the privilege of using it, your still limited as to what you can do with the photo. Just as you’re free to download them and purchase a royalty-free license from a stock photography agency, so can anyone else. This is the most popular option for budget minded marketers and gives you the most leniency as to what you can do with it in both professional and personal projects. The name “royalty-free” comes from the fact that you can use it multiple times without paying a royalty for each use. Once paid for, the image is tied to your MicroStock agency account. You can download it as often as you want and use it multiple occasions.

What Is an Extended License?

istock photo license

An extended license is also known as an enhanced license. These licenses give you more leniency than what a standard royalty-free license will give you. These usually extend the types of activities you can legally do with the photo. Although the technicalities of in an extended license vary from agency to agency, generally these are placed upon royalty-free images.

If you found a photo that works for you, the first license you pay for is a royalty-free license. If you want to use it for reselling purposes – like calendars, greeting cards, T-shirts and other print-on-demand products – this extended license is what you need. That allows you to print what you want in bulk. As mentioned earlier, this license extends the royalty-free license. In neither case are you actually buying the photo. The only type of photo that you will own outright with exclusive rights to do whatever you want with is the kind of photo that you take yourself.

What Is a Rights Managed License?

A Rights Managed license is a very different type of license. This license is much more expensive per image.            However, it does provide a degree of protection against what is called brand dilution. Brand dilution is what happens when a brand is so overused that people stop seeing the brand is such a strong entity. Usually, using stock photos in a way that it associates a brand with a particular image is strongly cautioned against. However, if it is a temporary situation, like what you see what in a Rights Managed license, using it for your brand would be OK. Note I said, “brand,” and not “logo.” This is exactly why it’s so expensive. While you are using it for your brand, no one else can use it. Because no one else can use it, it protects against brand dilution.

The Rights Managed license is given on a pay-per-use basis. Once again, you don’t own the photo. However, this particular license grants you exclusive rights to the photo. The difference between giving exclusive rights to the picture and outright owning it is time. You’re given exclusive rights for a limited period only – usually only during the duration of the project. Furthermore, another common stipulation of a Rights Managed license implies a geographical restriction. In other words, a Rights Managed license allows you to use the photo exclusively for your project for a limited amount of time and only in a predefined geographical area.

Cheap Stock Photos Are Yours Forever

The reason we say the cheap stock photos (5 agencies where to get them) are yours forever is because under a standard or extended license, you’re free to use that image as you see fit – as long as you stay within the licensing agreement. After you purchase a photo, you will be able to download the high-definition, watermark-free version of the photo – not just once or twice, but forever. Royalty-free and extended licenses do not expire. Once you purchase it, the picture will forever be tied to your account.