Understanding Illustrations and Graphics and Stock Photography

In the days of technology and convenience, stock photography has become a source of graphics for various industries and fields. These are defined as photographs licensed for use, in most cases for a fee. Using these types of photographs has become more popular because of their benefits.

Numerous databases offer photographs for free, a small price or subscription, making it a more convenient choice for industries and people who need photographs quickly or with a limited amount of budget available. The term should not be confused with the term stock images, the latter referring to a wide host of 2d and 3d illustrations, including photographs, clip art, computer graphics and even other forms of artistic work.


The use of stock photography is considered a cheaper alternative to hiring a photographer. Consumers and companies can save time, energy, money and even effort in using stock photographs. Instead of paying for a photographer, models and making reservations for the space used, the consumer can pay a fraction of that amount with less hassle by using stock photographs. Consumers and companies can select from a wide variety of photographs available and pay only for what they want, and can even choose a particular size or screen resolution. Stock photography sites are also a way for photographers to sell their photographs.


There is a wide range of uses and types of consumers which use stock photographs. Students and budding graphic artists choose to use stock photography as a medium to test their skills in altering the images to create new artwork. Instructors use it as an effective visual medium for teaching. Small and medium size businesses use stock photographs for marketing or promotional campaigns.


Much like other types of stock images, there are several sources of photographs. Online directories offer consumers a large collection of stock photographs in exchange for paying a small fee for each picture selected or choosing a subscription package. Photographers also use these online directories, posting their work for purchase. As an alternative for directories, some photographers have created their own personal websites where they post their works for public viewing. In most cases, the images have a form of watermark to protect the images from any unauthorized download and use.

Stock photographs are not displayed in their full size or resolution, optimized for Internet viewing. This makes it easier to display several images at one time without bogging the connection and is also another way of discouraging unauthorized downloads.

License Types and Allowed Use

Licenses for stock photographs generally fall under two categories: royalty free (RF) or rights managed (RM). Photographs purchased with royalty free licenses are paid with each download with a limited number of reproductions allowed. There is no time limit to when the purchased photograph can be used. No one is given the exclusive rights to using the image, allowing the photographer to sell the image as many times as desired. With rights managed or licensed images, the use is restricted based on a number of factors including the amount of time, number of reproductions, the territory, size, the type of use and if the consumer chooses to have an exclusive contract.