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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Stock Photography

If you've ever wondered what stock photography is all about, it's actually pretty simple. You know when you go on websites or look at certain magazine ads and see the models being used? Many of those images are stock photo images.

Stock photography companies specialize in random photos for use in publications, both online and in other forms of media. As you'll notice in the image associated with this post, that's me...this image was from a stock shoot I did in San Francisco, which was then uploaded to the Getty Images Stock website. Someone at HowStuffWorks.com saw my picture and paid the fee to use the image on their site. Pretty neat, eh?

Stock photography involves real-looking, everyday models as well as gorgeous model types. Young, old, male, female, no matter the shape, size or ethnicity of the models, stock photographers want them all! These companies make money by allowing clients to purchase their images for a certain price or rate.

Models who do stock photography get paid pretty well and can create an ongoing relationship with stock companies, which opens up the possibility of more shoots in the future. This type of business keeps clients from having to book their own models and arrange photo shoots. For them, it's as easy as registering with a stock photography site and downloading the images of their choice!

So here is how the process works: a photographer hires a model to do a stock shoot (it can be solo, with another model or a group of models). They do the shoot according to the theme needed and afterwards the photographer takes the best images and uploads them to the stock photography website they are a member of (istockphoto, getty images, etc.).

Now companies and individuals can visit the site, search for the images they want, pay the fee to own the photo in order to use it for their advertising purposes and that's it! Stock photography models have to sign a model release.

There are many photographers that specialize in stock photography and are able to generate great income from it. While each shoot varies, many stock photography gigs pay well (not a fortune but great side income or steady income if you book a lot of this type of work). Most pay a flat rate of $150 or higher, depending on the length of the shoot, theme, etc.

The details/arrangements of what the photographer promises to the model in exchange for their time also varies from shoot to shoot. I've done stock shoots where I was paid but not allowed to have copies of the original images (in these cases, I went to the stock photography website and downloaded the images with the watermark).

On the other hand, I've also worked with stock photographers who paid me and allowed me to download the hi resolution images without the watermark for my portfolio use. Since stock photographers make their bread and butter from people buying their pictures, it is up to the photographer to decide whether you can get both pictures and compensation or just compensation.

If you're interesting in trying this type of modeling, there are online modeling communities/sites (Model Mayhem and One Model Place, for example) where photographers specializing in this type of work will post casting calls, which the models that are members of the site can submit themselves for.

Another way is to go to the stock photography sites and look at the stock models they feature. Find out the names of the photographers that took the images you like and see if you can do an online search to get their contact info--if they are legit and reputable, chances are you'll be able to find their website or at least an email address. Contact him/her and state that you saw their work on a stock site and are available if they need models.

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