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A Guide to Stock Photos (And 6 Reasons to Use Them!)

Stock photos are generally used worldwide, but the industries most known for utilizing them are the creative and marketing sectors. Think about the grinning models you see in a toothpaste ad, or a child hugging a dog on a billboard advocating animal rights. Those are from companies that usually invest in getting their advertising and marketing money’s worth to get their brands out there. Identically, if you frequently make use of stock photos in your work life, in a sense, you’re actually investing in someone’s creative work.

A Guide to Stock Photos: What exactly are stock photos?

Stock photos are shot by professional or semi-professional photographers and are usually contained in searchable databases.

You can get stock photos through stock databases or stock libraries that are able to contain an endless selection of royalty-free content suited for advertisements, books, fliers, or any project on hand. Think of these libraries as a one-stop solution for creative minds who are looking for high-quality photos in a time crunch. As creatives ourselves, we completely understand how most agencies work. Seriously, if you had to schedule a photoshoot just because a client needs a shot of a pseudo-family jumping in the air pretending like they’re having an incredible amount of fun, you can roughly picture how long it would take to complete a project. Add in the time and effort it would take to do editing, cropping, and re-shooting.

And what if at the end of the day you realized, the photos you took just doesn’t jive with the overall design you had in mind? You’ll end up going back to square one. We’d like to help you avoid that. Here are six reasons why creatives and marketers alike choose stock photos over a custom production.

1. Save Time

As mentioned above, coordinating a quality photoshoot takes time and advanced planning. If your stock photo needs are urgent and specific, such as travel, location-based or unique model photos, stock photo libraries are the perfect time-savvy option. So not only do you avoid scrambling to meet tight deadlines, browsing stock photos can also give you a better idea of what will or will not work for that project without having to spend money for a shoot that might not produce the desired results.

2. Choose From A Widely Available Variety

In terms of browsing, stock content libraries have such a wide variety that finding the perfect one you need – using the right keywords –  is a breeze. Many stock photo libraries these days have millions of stock photos in their databases. For example, 123RF’s library houses thousands of contributors and millions of stock photos, vector illustrations, footage and audio content. Picture having a vast variety of readily-available stock content at your fingertips for every idea imaginable.

3. Stay Cost-effective

If we were to read your thoughts, we’d most likely end up with the inevitable question of: “Wouldn’t using our own photographers be more cost-effective than purchasing stock images?” Here’s where we get down into the nitty-gritty. Hiring a photographer costs money. The photographer’s resources also cost money, including the purchasing of props, the hiring of talents or models, and factoring in the area of space you need to capture your photos. Often times, renting spaces can cut a thick slice out of one’s production budget. Purchasing stock photos are usually the more convenient, easier option, where you’re able to choose from a variety of budget-friendly plans depending on your requirements. If you require a large number of images for print or online, you can opt for a subscription plan. And if you’re in the market for just a couple of photos, purchasing credits will allow you greater flexibility.

4. Get Quality Content

So the logical reasoning would be that if it’s low cost, it must be low quality as well right? Far from it! Stock photos have to undergo rigorous reviewing and editing procedures before earning their spot in stock libraries. This means that out-of-focus pictures of your pet or badly-composited shots of family portraits are a no-no. In most cases, stock photos are of even better quality than those shot on assignment! After all, some of these collections are truly shot by professional stock photographers.

5. Stay Safe With Proper Image Licenses

Have you ever found some photos online and used them without acknowledgment to the owner or proper documentation? (Yep, we’re talking about pilfering them from Google images). Well, don’t. Not only is this unethical, it could also have you tangled in a major legal battle – which is absolutely not worth it for just a single image. Buying photos via a stock photo site, however, will assure that you can use the content legally as you have purchased the rights to do so and thus, already protected by standard license agreements. You can breathe easy and sleep better at night knowing that you’re safe from the claws of a court order.

6. Rest Assured That The Photos Have Proper Releases

Since we are on this topic about copyright issues, purchasing a royalty free stock photo also comes with the necessary model and property releases. Basically, these are legal agreements from the property owners or models stating that they agree to their image being used under standard conditions. So besides getting protected with proper licensing, you are also covered for any advertising or marketing campaigns.

That’s it for our stock photos guide. Here’s our comprehensive guide on where stock photos are used. For more in-depth information, explore our community tab and learn all about the stock content trends, keywords, and our contributor guides.