If you’ve ever found yourself in the position of needing the right photo fast, you’ve been in the perfect position to use stock photography. Perhaps you’re designing a website, and you need high-quality photos of everyday subject matter, like an office space or the skyline of a specific city. Taking the right shot might be difficult, especially if you aren’t a professional photographer or don’t have access to a high-quality camera and the right setup. Here is where a stock photo comes into play.
Whether you’re creating your own meme, working on an artistic masterpiece, or need to incorporate high-quality stock images into a professional design project, they can be hugely helpful.
Stock photos explained: what is stock photography?
So, what are stock images, anyways? A stock photo is an image that is usable by third parties. In the examples given above, you – the third party – could download an image that’s right for your needs. Stock photos are usually in searchable databases, and the images are typically high-resolution and professionally taken.
Photographers populate these databases, so if you happen to take photos regularly, you could try to sell your work to microstock sites. We’ll explain those below, but first: What if you simply want to find a photo to use? If you’re on Picsart, you can search our database of free-to-edit images, which includes a variety of photography. Alternatively, you can search stock photography databases directly by going to their respective websites.
If you’re curious what a stock photo looks like, know that it looks pretty much like any other high-resolution image. The Internet is full of stock photos, so you’re probably quite accustomed to seeing them.
What are microstock and macrostock sites?
Microstock sites are a good starting place for photographers just getting into stock photography because they typically accept photos from a wide range of creators with varying levels of experience. The word “microstock” refers to stock images for which a photographer receives a micropayment. “Micro,” therefore, does not have to do with the size of the image, the website, or its offering. Some of the most well-known databases with countless images are microstock sites.
Macrostock sites work quite differently. Unlike microstock sites, from which different users can all download and use the same pool of photos, macrostock sites sell photographs, and often only one user can use any given image. It’s not that microstock sites only have free content; It’s that macrostock sites often charge more, given the exclusivity factor of their images.
Are stock photos free to use?
The short answer to whether or not stock photos are free to use? It depends. There are many free images out there marked as such. If you’re using Picsart, all of our free-to-edit images are – you guessed it – free to use.
Other photos, however, are not free to use, and you must first purchase a license. The terms of this license will define how and where you can use the image. When you pay for a photo – or even when you use a free one – be sure to familiarize yourself with the license’s conditions to avoid unintentionally misusing it. On the Picsart web tool, you can filter photos by personal and commercial use licenses. Simply start a new project, click on the Photos icon, and toggle on/off between personal and commercial use before selecting your image.
Can I use stock photos for advertising?
One thing to consider about stock photography, especially those from microsites, is that you may never be the only person in the world with that photo. Another company, or companies, can use the same image. Perhaps, for example, you’ve noticed the same picture of a burger on the menu at different restaurants. Given the ubiquitousness of stock photography, this sort of situation is unavoidable.
So, if you truly want an original image for your campaign, be sure to purchase a photo that’s exclusively for your use, but make sure the photographer has licensed it for the purposes you intend to use it. If you’re concerned about exclusivity and don’t have the budget for stock photography, consider doing your own custom photoshoot with some friends.
Do stock images look good?
It’s a subjective question, but it’s one that many of you may have on your mind. Stock photos can get a bad rap for not looking original or seeming a bit too staged, but many of them are beautiful. You just need to find the right stock photography site for your needs.
Picsart has millions of professionally taken photos for your editing needs thanks to our partnerships with various stock photography sites, so the odds are good that you’ll find the right image. So, the answer to this question is not an easy “yes” or “no.” Whether or not a stock image will look right in a particular setting depends on the setting itself and your marketing needs.
For example, if you’re updating your online presence, and the content is very personal to you or specific to your brand, it will likely be easy for viewers to spot a stock photo. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. If you want something custom for your brand, then you may want to use your own photos and show people all that you can do with the camera.
If your project doesn’t depend on being unique to your personal brand and you simply need a high-quality shot of a specific item or place, then a stock photo may be the perfect fit. So, if you’re advertising a cooking class or book sale, go for the super sharp stock image of a professionally-baked pizza or a visually-pleasing stack of hardcovers, and don’t look back.
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