What if the world was all text or badly drawn sketches? I think that would make for a quite boring, bland landscape of flat webpages and dry magazines. It’s the vivid imagery of photographs which engage and captivate an audience. Without a photograph, advertisers and designers would have no way to quickly convey their message.
Look around the wide world of the internet and you’ll see literally thousands of stock photos and the websites that host them but what are stock photos? I think we can infer from the words that they’re some kind of visual image that’s hosted by individuals or, as is more usually the case, large online companies. And this is basically correct, they are photographs that range from the most basic and smallest in size, to large photographs of many megabytes in size.
So we know that a stock photo is a licensed commodity being hosted by a website. It’s a photograph containing an image of something desirable to a customer. Something they need and can’t find anywhere else at the quality and resolution offered by a stock photo site. These photographs are going to feature an amazingly comprehensive selection of scenes and objects, conveying anything from the simplest of messages to something approaching a work of art.
They will be listed and categorized in some kind of intuitive interface on the stock photo website so that they can be easily browsed or searched for by name or keyword. In fact, the more variety of images stocked by a site, the better since users purchasing an image could be searching for an image to be used in a dizzying array of projects and applications.
A small sampling of the variety of photos available on the top stock sites when you begin browsing, is going to include everything from beauty and fashion shots to landscapes and parks. The everyday will be mixed in with the abstract. You’ll encounter shots of kitchen utensils in one category and close-up textures of rusty metals in another. There is very little limit to the variety of photograph available.
A little more about the typical customer who is drawn to a website in search of stock photos. They are typically graphics professionals but they can also come from many walks of life in search of the ideal image. This is going to include commercial photographers, web designers, individuals working on a creative project and many more. It’s often simply a way to complete a project without resorting to hiring a professional photographer. They will browse the many thousands of photos of stock images for that one perfect shot or a series of shots. Since time is money, they will more likely conduct a search for the appropriate shot by use of site categories and keywords.
The actual scope of a required stock photograph can be amazingly narrow, for example, a beauty model in a certain pose or expressing a certain emotion so a customer would be quite lost without the facility to search for specifics with one, or more likely, a range of keywords.
Once found, the prized stock photo can be purchased and digitally delivered by some means of a download system. The customer is likely going to know the exact specifics of the format, dimensions and file-size that they’re seeking and if the shot matches all of these specifics, as well as their subject choice, it will be purchased with a licence for usage. It should be noted that payment scales could vary quite wildly depending on those factors.
From the viewpoint of professional photographers, they look to these photo stock sites as an income source where they can submit their work and make a profit selling photos for a commission based on a licensing agreement. We’re going to focus on three of the top stock photo sites to be found on the web.
Here are the top stock photo sites!
1. Shutterstock was started in 2003 by photographer Jon Oringer and has grown steadily. It is arguably the most popular stock site with over 20 million stock images in an easy to search database which also includes categories for vector graphics and illustrations. Their website is extremely well laid out with quick previews of potential purchases and images available in both jpg and tiff format. Upon creating an account you can make your own collections of photos that interest you, saving them for future use.
Its subscription model is unique in that customers don’t license individual images but rather buy a subscription, allowing them to download images. This approach encourages a high volume of returning visitors.
2. iStockphoto founded in 2000 by Bruce Livingstone, has a library of photos surpassing the 8 million image mark. It is one of several stock sites to offer audio along with the more typical offerings of photographs, vector graphics and illustrations. iStockphoto is one of the pioneers of the stock image industry and is owned by Getty Images, a large library provider of over 50 million images and 50,000 videos covering a world of historical and contemporary relevance.
The layout of iStockphoto is perhaps even more comprehensive than Shutterstock, with many options to narrow images to keywords, price options and license types. Photos are well reviewed by amateur and professional photographers and available for download in all popular digital formats. They range in size from small to XXXLarge with a matching high price point that can quickly be paid by credit card or paypal.
3. Fotolia is based in New York and has been supplying high quality photographs to the professional and amateur alike since 2005. It has a vast library of over 19 million images, including, photographs, illustrations and vector artwork supplied by over 2.5 million contributing photographers. Create an account and browse through an intuitive layout of images that vary from XS all the way up to XXLarge, with resolutions up to 5006 x 3448. Instant preview and quick account setup make Fotolia an attractive proposition for anyone shopping for stock photos.
Positioned as a social marketplace with blogs and forums, Fotolia offers many unique advantages. The social aspect allows for the reviewing and critiquing of photographs as well as offering tips, discussions and tools to improve photos in their market. There are several options for quick payment and a credit based model is used for making purchases.
Fotolia tend to be slightly more expensive than competing platforms but that seems a worthwhile price with the additional tools and services a customer is gaining. Whichever of these services you do choose, you can be assured of plenty of choice and exemplary service.