iStockphoto for royalty-free images.

istockphotoEver work on a photo composite and need just one more image … well, iStockphoto is your answer.

We have all used the large stock houses like Getty Images, Corbis, Creatas, Comstock, Jupiter and megahouses like Super Stock.  But, have you used a micro-stock house?  iStockphoto was the first, but more are growing fast.

Micro-stock houses have a direct relationship with the photographer and pay between 20%-50% royalty on licensed (purchased) images.  For the average photographer, this is a much higher royalty-rate than the established houses.  The trade-off is micro-stocks push volume at much lower image rates than the established houses.  For example, prices at iStock range from $1 to $21 for royalty-free images whereas Getty Images start at $89 and goes up depending on image  size and use.  Charging more for an image with a very prominent venue (ex. magazine cover, billboard, TV, etc.) is very common.

Well, if you are working on a photo composite, the completed work is more important than any one image.  As a result, trying to justify spending $2500 for image licenses on top of your artistic hourly rate may be a tough sell.  Budgets are tight and getting tighter.  Wouldn’t you rather lump it all together into one neat bill knowing that 90% goes directly to you?? Micro-stocks let you do that.

iStock’s success has attracted better photographers and better quality images.  It also has attracted competitors like Fotolia, Dreamstime, Shutterstock and Stockxpert.  A wider selection makes it easier to find the perfect image.  You may even find the same image on multiple sites.

When shopping for stock images, you need to determine the type of stock:

  • Royalty-free: once licensed, the image can be used unlimited times for the set duration without paying additional royalty fees.
  • Rights-managed: a license fee will be required for each use depending on factors like duration of time used, geographic region, industry, size published, and type of venue.
  • Subscriptions: a variation of either royalty-free or rights-managed stock where you commit to a monthly subscription and a number of images per month.

When shopping for stock, be sure to check the prices, the duration of license and the terms of use before you commit … and before you quote a cost to the client.

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