What is stock?

Journal Entry: Wed Oct 13, 2010, 2:14 AM
One of the many purposes of this group is to provide you with an educational resource to help guide you along the way to successfully contributing to the deviantART Stock Project.

:star:  What is microstock?

First, let's break it down.

micro (payment) {small, i.e. low cost}  + stock {off the shelf, i.e. ready to use images and graphics} (photography)

Microstock is different from traditional stock photography in many ways:

:bulletblue:  There is a vast resource available of stock images on almost any subject, and it's very easy to find what you need.

:bulletblue:  Images are sold at very low price -- just a few dollars with clear information about the type of copyright and appropriate licensing included in each sale.

:bulletblue:  Images are sourced from the general public, amateurs and professional photographers, designers and illustrators –- anyone can contribute.

So with that in mind, we've put together a handy guide of information & resources for you to refer to in order to set the context for participation in commercial stock either as a user or as someone who hopes to produce stock.

:star:  What is a royalty free image?

A royalty free image means that the price of the image is the same no matter how long you use the image for or how many prints you require. Thus, when you buy an image under a royalty free license, you can use this image without a time limit and as many times as you like, provided it is for the same client, campaign or project.

:star:  Equipment counts

Most stock consists of photographs. But as you can see by going through the collections at  stockproject.fotolia.com, illustrations, vectors, backgrounds and textures are also part of a microstock offering.  For photographs, the bar is set pretty high at professional or pro-am levels in terms of equipment, quality and file sizes.  For illustrations a good scanner is required and you should start with simple line work without textures.  Obviously, you'll also need a way to transfer your work onto the Internet.  

For people who use stock, sometimes all you need is to simply download an image to place the work into a PowerPoint presentation or into a document.  But for those who enjoy photomanipulation and other digital art techniques, stock file sizes will require a good processor and good image software.

You'll need to get your hands on some image editing software to assist you with this. Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperature are very popular, however there is also an abundance of free alternatives.

:star:  Choose your subjects

Think about what subject matters are the most likely to be used frequently by different customer groups.  This doesn’t mean making images that fit everyone’s needs.  But the subject of the images should be thought through to fit specific needs that seem likely. Think about what you already have access to, and what is going to sell well.  Look at the major categories on stockproject.fotolia.com or at other stock sites and take a look at the lead image results in those categories to get a good feel for what sells.

You never really know what people will want to use and what they will be searching for.  That is why successful microstock offerings contain very deep catalogs of millions of image choices - - essentially the more the merrier as long as there is functional search.

:star:  Rights matter

Stock results in a third person using the stock image for all kinds of publications and applications.  There are a variety of licenses used.  They break down what you can do with an image.  The more the user wants to do in terms of commercial exploitation, the higher the price of the license.  But it all starts with one basic principal - - the person making the stock must be able to transfer the rights to a user.  In practical terms that means:

:bulletblue:  Yours! You must be the copyright owner of the images you submit.

:bulletblue:  Released. Make sure that you have all the appropriate documentation in place, i.e. a signed model release if you use people.

:bulletblue:  Don’t put into the image any trademarks or billboards or business names.

For people using stock, read the license for the image to make sure you can use the resulting project the way you intend to use it.  For example, stock agreements can limit the number of items you can make using the image as product packaging.


Here are some excellent tutorials that provide you with all you need to know about in order to shoot and prepare quality stock.

:bulletblue:  How to shoot stock tutorial by mjranum-stock

:bulletblue:  Guide to Stock - Part 1 by AttempteStock

:star:  Have you found any helpful tutorials on preparing stock? Let us know and we'll update our listing!

Visit the dA Stock Project w/ Fotolia