Did you know?
Stock photography consists of existing photographs that can be licensed for specific uses. Book publishers, specialty publishers, magazines, advertising agencies, filmmakers,
web designers, graphic artists, interior decor firms, corporate creative groups, and other entities utilize stock photography to fulfill the needs of their creative assignments. By using stock photography instead of hiring a photographer to perform on location shooting, customers can save valuable time and stay on budget. With a wealth of images, stock photography databases that may be searched online save photo researchers valuable time when they are looking for just the right image. With today's digital delivery methods, images may be purchased online and delivered via email or downloaded right away.
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.
As modern stock photography distributors often carry stills, video, and illustrations, none of the existing terminology provides a perfect match for the state of the industry.
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.