Here’s An Introduction to Stock Images, a Great Resource for Marketing and Advertising

Here’s An Introduction to Stock Images, a Great Resource for Marketing and Advertising

Stock images are defined as the archive of images that can be licensed commercially and it’s a vast and vastly useful resource for a wide variety of applications ranging from advertising and social media to graphic design to websites to image-specific uses in sectors like architecture and real estate. Let’s take a quick look at the basics of stock images to see how they might become useful to you as a window film dealer.

Why Use Stock Images?

Let’s imagine that the owner of a website, say an independent boutique, needs 30 images for a redesign of her website. How can she get the images she needs? There are basically three solutions here:

  1. She can hire a photographer to take the images she needs. This has the added bonus of giving product-specific choices but could be prohibitively expensive.
  2. She can take the images herself using a hand-held camera or her smartphone camera, but the quality could be lacking, or…
  3. She can use crowd-sourced images of happy customers to show off her success, or…
  4. She can use existing stock images, which are relatively inexpensive in price, are searchable, and most importantly, are available immediately. The same can apply to your demonstrations and advertising to potential window film buyers, who occupy a wide variety of homes, all with different types of window arrangements, and drive a variety of vehicles.

The combination of the rise of the Internet, the convenience of stock photography, and the flexibility of the images involved inspire many people and companies to employ stock photography in a wide variety of projects.

How Much Do Stock Images Cost?

The cost of stock photography varies widely from nothing for images that fall under specific copyright situations like the creative commons zero (CC0) license to less than $1 for widely-distributed and common stock photography to more than $500 for images that are offered exclusively or cost a lot to take or create, such as model photography.

Naturally, most stock images are not created for a specific purpose but with so many different stock images of vehicles or homes and businesses that include their windows in the frame, the selections for you to use as a film dealer are nearly endless.

How Do Image Licenses Work?

Stock images have been around since the 1920s, but things changed significantly for photographers In 1976 with the passage of the Copyright Act in the United States, which made photographers the sole owner of the copyright of the pictures he or she took. That enabled photographers, who often have difficulty marketing and promoting their own images, to not only have more control over their images but also to sell multiple rights to stock photos.

Today, there are four main categories for stock image licenses:

1. Rights-Managed Licenses
This describes a license that allows for the limited use of a stock photo. These fees are priced on a per use basis and are often calculated on how many viewers will potentially see the stock photo. The price is calculated based on a number of factors including display size, placement, geography, medium, and duration of use.

2. Royalty-Free Images
Basically, for a one-time payment, a consumer (sometimes called an End User) can use the licensed photo over and over again.

3. Extended (or Enhanced) Licenses
This is a royalty-free license with extras that grants additional rights—generally when a consumer, business, or other end user buys this license, it will be withdrawn from further sales.

4. The Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License
This is the license you’ll see very often on photographs posted on sites like Wikipedia. It’s a very generous license and grants the user the right to use an image for any purpose and in an unlimited number of copies. See the artist Banksy for examples of images that have been released into the wild.

Where Can Business Owners Access Stock Images?

There are several dozen well-known and accessible companies called stock image agencies whose purpose is to serve as a broker between photographers who take stock or create stock images and the company or consumer that wants to employ stock images in a project or website. Some of these companies, such as iStock and Shutterstock are quite well-known to the average public user, while others like Getty Images, 123RFBigstock or iStock might be better known within certain sectors like technology journalism. You can see a complete list here.

Regardless of where you go for stock images, be prepared and do your homework. A search for “Royalty Free Images” will save you a lot of time and money, especially if the application you need them for isn’t particularly specific. And, as with anything that affects your bottom line, be sure to read the fine print when you’re purchasing a resource that may or may not be worth the investment.