Are you in need of cheap stock photos? How did stock photos come to be as they are right now? Technically, stock photos or stock photography is the supply of photographs for creative projects, a more conventional, useful, and affordable way instead of hiring a photographer to getting the right images for your specific project – may it be online or print. In today’s time, such photographs are stored in an online database, often licensed for specific uses. The old practice of using a search engine and downloading any image that comes out from the results page and using it can have devastating consequences. Thus, emerging stock photo banks are the conventional solution to a long standing dilemma.
The first major stock photography came to existence in 1920 by H. Armstrong Roberts, which continues today under the name RobertStock. During the 1990s, Getty Images and Corbis emerged, becoming two of the biggest companies in the field of stock photography. In 2000, iStockphoto came to existence while Dreamstine and Shutterstock became popular in 2004. As of the current date, there are now numerous of online databases which can fill any consumer need for stock photography – not only for images but also for vectors, illustrations, footages, audio and video clips.
Before delving into the facts of how to obtain affordable stock images, it pays to know the restrictions and limitations of a ‘stock image’. Most of the databases provide ‘Royalty-Free’ images however, there is more than that. Here is a quick summary:
- Rights Managed (RM) – this includes licensed images with a number of restrictions on its use. The license dictates the usage (for advertising, corporate use or media), specific use (to be printed on billboard, newspaper, report), duration (how long the image will be displayed), print run (i.e. how many copy of brochures with the image will be produced), territory (for us in the U.S., Europe or specific territory), industry, and exclusivity. Rights Managed licenses make sure that a specific image will not be used in a conflicting manner thus the terms are specific, clearly defined, and negotiated. This kind of license is expensive, not to mention extremely limited.
- Public Domain (PD) – contrary to a rights managed license, Public Domain means that the image is free to use without the need to purchase a license. Moreover, the image can be used for as frequent and as much as a consumer wants to – whether it may be for personal or commercial use. On the other hand, Public Doman images are low resolution images and are already overused by many.
- Royalty-free – being royalty-free, the image is free of royalties (paying each time you use a particular image). However, this does not mean the image is totally free to use without purchasing a license. As mentioned, most database like DepositPhotos, iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia, Getty Images use ‘royalty-free’ images. Often enough, you can purchase such images through a database (as mentioned) with a Pay-As-You-Go plan, credit, or through a monthly or yearly subscription.
Moreover, when it comes to getting affordable stock graphics and images, it begins by settling on a database that suits you well – with the images that suits your style and you website as well as the cost that you are willing to spend. Moreover, being keen with a subscription is extremely crucial. You may pay for less when you actually need more downloads, or you can pay for more with a surplus of photos when you only need a few. Thus, it pays to settle for a pleasing trade.
- Pay-As-You-Go or Pay-Per-Download – as the name says it; you pay for the images as you go with credits. For iStockphoto, one (1) credit is equivalent to one essential image – the cheapest way to purchase if you only need one picture. The price is at $12. The highest, meanwhile, is at 300 credits for 300 essential images, 100 signature images, 50 essential video clips, and 16 signature video clips – all of these available at the price of $2,400. Unlike a subscription, your credits never expire. For Fotolia, the basic 10 credit is priced at $11.20. This basic credit system depends on how much credit a particular image costs. For example, a 400X200 resolution image costs 2 credits and a 5000X3500 version of the same image costs 24 credits.
- Subscription – signing for a subscription is best if you are always in the need of new images and graphic content. For iStockphoto, there are two types of subscription: a cheaper Essentials Subscription which gives you access only to essential images and a Signature subscription giving you all access to all images on iStock. Meanwhile, for Fotolia, a months’ subscription is available and would depend on how many images you would wish to download every month. A basic 10 medium or 5 extra-large images per month would cost $20 and a maximum 2,000 medium or 1,000 extra-large images costs $640. For Shutterstock, a basic 750 downloads per month for a one year subscription is priced at $199 per month whilst a single months’ subscription costs $249.
In conclusion, the choice of package plans solely depends on your need of images – how many would you need and how much are you willing to pay for. For most of the image banks, the longer you subscribe, the cheaper you will have to pay – and the longer you subscribe, the more images you will likely to get. In addition, images and vectors are given out for free to most subscribers every week for the like of Shutterstock and iStock. It all depends on the size of your project and how much images are you likely to need or use. When it comes to cheap stock photos, you need the right amount of planning and brainstorming to know which plan would suit you best for a penny-wise implementation of your project.