Stock photography consists of existing photographs that can be licensed for specific uses. Book publishers, specialty publishers, magazines, advertising agencies, filmmakers,
Stock photography is sometimes called a photo archive, or just stock photos. Outside the U.S.A. they are generally referred to as picture libraries. The term photo archive often refers to the website or physical location where the photographs are stored. Photo archives are also sometimes called image banks.
For many years, stock photography consisted largely of outtakes ('seconds') from commercial magazine assignments. By the 1980s, it had become a specialty in its own right, with photographers creating new material for the express purpose of submitting it to a stock house. Agencies attempted to become more sophisticated about following and anticipating the needs of advertisers and communicating these needs to photographers.
Photographs were composed with more of an eye for how they might look when combined with other elements; for example, a photo might be shot vertically with space at the top and down the left side, with the conscious intention that it might be licensed for use as a magazine cover.
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