Stock Photography for Web Developers: Part 4 | 2 | WebReference

Stock Photography for Web Developers: Part 4 | 2

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Stock Photography for Web Developers: Part 4

Advantages of Using Photo CDs

The most obvious advantages of using photo disks are:

Disadvantages of Using Photo CDs

The single biggest disadvantage of using Photo CDs is not knowing who is using the same image, nor for what market. Another consideration is that while these images have improved in quality, they are less likely to be seen in high-end photo libraries, though that is changing.

Other issues have to do with the term "Royalty-Free," which we discussed in an earlier article as well as the issue of other fees that are not obvious to when purchasing the CD. If in doubt, read the fine print.

Implications for Stock Photographers

Over the years, sales for stock photographers have gone down, to the point where many stock photographers who were making their entire living from stock are no longer able to do so. In one case, I know of a stock photographer who was earning over $200,000.00/year in royalties. Now, he's lucky to make $5,000.00/year.

There appear to be many reasons for this, most attributable to the advances in technology. These days it's possible to get a relatively fast computer with a good chunk of RAM, Photoshop, a digital camera, printer and scanner, all for a few thousand dollars. The images produced might not be high-end, but many people don't care so long as they have something they can use.

There are also the issues of image theft as discussed above.

A further complication is royalty-free photography, which has impacted the sales that photographers can realize from rights-protected imagery. How? By flooding the market with lower end images, the amount of choice is increased, thus resulting in fewer sales. Fees paid to photographers are also lower.

Another issue is the digital format. Prior to the digital age, agencies were limited to a fixed number of images that they could fit into print catalogs. Now, it's possible to have entire image libraries available online, so many times more images are available, which reduces sales (and royalties) to photographers.

Then there is the issue of photographers who have sold off images to royalty-free agencies. Royalty-free has been a sore point depending on which side of the fence you're on. If you run a stock photography agency, royalty-free can be beneficial to your bottom line. If you're a photographer, the royalties can be dismal. The issue has spilled over into the illustration market as well and has sparked some heated debates.

For further reading, check out the following:

In our next issue, we continue our exploration with computers and stock photography. Some of what we'll cover is how to use photographs as components in illustrations, why you should use a drawing tablet, image retouching, plug-ins and other 3rd party applications.

About the Author

Nathan Segal is an Associate Editor for He is an Artist and Writer who has been writing for computer and photographic magazines for 8+ years. His specialty is taking complex methods and explaining them in clear, easy-to-understand terms. To learn more about his work and background, click here.

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Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: November 18, 2005