Monday, July 16, 2007

What is Stock Photography?

Stock photography is just copyrighted photographs that have been taken by a photographer without being hired to capture a specific subject or event. The images are maintained in a library by the photographer or an agency. A potential customer can check with the photographer, or query the inventory of previously taken images on-line, to see if an image desired is already in "stock". As a result, the customer is able to choose from a variety of ready-made images with no waiting, or worries about a special photo shoot.

Stock images may be licensed as "royalty free", meaning they can used used by the buyer for multiple projects for as long he chooses.

"Rights managed" stock images, however, are licensed only for specific usage , such as to illustrate a brochure, book, or article. Prices for this use are based on the amount of exposure that the photo will receive.

The image license costs for the customer are generally low. For example, at The Photo Lane, the one-time use of an online image in an internal newsletter with a print run of under 5,000 may be licensed for as little as $30. More prominent and widespread uses will command higher fees, but these use fees are still often much less than the amount of money expended by the photographer in producing the image.

Photography Quotes

I'm always on the lookout for good quotes that make me think, or just smile. Here are some I have run across that I feel are noteworthy....

Notable Photography Quotes:

"A good photograph is knowing where to stand" (Ansel Adams)

"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs" (Ansel Adams)

"If your pictures aren't good enough, you are not close enough" (Robert Capa)

"Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter" (Ansel Adams)

"While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see" (Dorothea Lange)

"Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes forever the precise and transitory instant. We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth than can make them come back again." (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

Some Humorous Photography Quotes....

"Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner." (Author Unknown)

"Everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film" (Author Unknown)

"I have discovered photography. Now I can kill myself. I have nothing else to learn." (Pablo Picasso)

"They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They should photograph me through linoleum." (Tallulah Bankhead)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My First Impressions of the Nikon 70-300mm VR Lens

Just wanted to share with other Nikon photo enthusiasts my first impressions of the new Nikon 70-300mm F/4.5-5.6 G-AFS ED-IF VR lens I recently purchased. Since I am not a "professional" photographer, I am not able to afford the fast and very expensive lenses. However, if the lighting is decent and I work on holding steady, my "slow and cheap" Nikon lens certainly do a pretty good job.

Contrary to what I have read elsewhere, I did not find that this lens was too cheaply made for its price (according to some professionals). It does have plastic parts, but it is sturdy and does not give the impression of being fragile and easily damaged. One of the most critical wear parts, the camera connection is all metal.

I had read also that the VR was noisy, but the one I bought is not noisy at all. In fact, the sound it makes is barely perceptible (I have to put my ear near the lens to hear it all) Of course, I will admit that my hearing has never been great, and has not improved with age!

I also found that the lens clarity is excellent in all ranges for my untrained eye, and the VR works great. To give you an idea of how much the VR helped me, below is a crop from one of the first photos I took.

After I cropped it, I enlarged it by 150% and reduced the pixel count to 72 dpi. The photo was taken with a 6 megapixel Nikon D70 with me standing inside the house looking through a plate glass window at a farmer driving his tractor about 100 yards away. The tractor was also moving slowly and coming in my general direction.

The lens was extended to its maximum 300mm, with the camera handheld by me. Since it was a dark, cloudy day, the automatic camera settings were F5.6 at 1/13 of a second. I did not expect much. However, when I viewed the shot I was blown away to see that I could actually read the John Deere lettering on the tractor and make out the features of the farmer-neighbor inside the tractor.

It's not a pretty shot, but certainly much, much better than I could have accomplished hand holding the camera with one of my standard-slow lens. I will probably have my share of disappointments with handheld shots, but this was enough to convince me that all of my future lens must have VR.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the VR works well with my Kenko extensions since I can’t afford the macro lens I want yet. The VR worked great with one extension or with two stacked, but not with three extensions stacked. I am not sure why this is the case. However, since the 70-300 lens focuses as close as 5 feet at 300 mm without the extensions, I doubt I will need all three.

I had been eyeing this lens for several months at prices starting at $539. However, in February, I finally got notice that I would be getting paid for some images submitted for a textbook over a year ago, and decided it was now or never (I even convinced my wife). The waiting actually paid off in a way because I was very pleasantly surprised to find the USA 5 year warranty lens in February for "only" $499. If you are interested, click on the link below to get one for yourself. I don't think you will be disappointed.

I mainly plan to use the lens for nature, equestrian, and sports shots here in Kentucky. I will provide an update later on my impressions after using the lens for a while.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Terms Used the in the Stock Photography Business

(Article published here by permission of Kelly Paal)

So you are a small business person or web designer and you want to purchase some stock photography for your website. Great. Photography is a wonderful way to improve the emotional impact of your site. But there are a few terms unique to the stock photography business that you should know.

Royalty Free - you’ll see this term often. What it means is that you pay a one time fee for an image and you can use it for as many times as you want for as long as you wish. It is a great way to get inexpensive photos. Now if you are concerned that your competitor would or could use the same image as you, photographers and agencies can continue to sell the image after you purchase it, then you need:

Rights Managed - this one is next term you’ll see. This means that you pay a fee for the image based on how, where, how long, and how many people will see the image. This one will cost you a lot more in most cases. This is worth it if you do not want your competitor using the same image for the same purpose. Usually the stock agency or photographer also agree not to sell the image to others in your field for the time that you are using the image. So you can see why this option protects your use of the image but you’ll also pay much more for this protection. Remember too that, at some point, you decided to discontinue using/paying for the image the agency or photographer can then sell the image to someone else, even someone in your field.

Flat Rate - this term isn’t quite at common but it is similar to royalty free. Usually this means that you pay a one time fee for an image, but it can only be used for one purpose by one person. Pricing will be higher than royalty free but less than rights managed.

Copyright - even with royalty free you are still only purchasing the right to use an image not the image itself. All images are property of the agency or photographer who owns them. How do you know who owns them, there is usually a © symbol with date and name of the person or agency who owns the image. No matter what you paid for the image you are NOT the owner of the image. This means you cannot remove the copyright information, alter the photo, use it as part of a logo that you own a copyright, or resale the image as your own.

These terms will get you started but remember there can be differences in these definitions from agency to agency and photographer to photographer. Every agency and photographer selling stock images should have a legal or license page to explain these terms and any others that they use, if they don’t you may want to move onto another site. Be aware, read all the information, and know what you are buying.

If you have any questions please email me at:

Copyright 2004 Kelly Paal

Kelly Paal is a Freelance Nature and Landscape Photographer, exhibiting nationally and internationally. Recently she started her own business Kelly Paal Photography ( She has an educational background in photography, business, and commercial art. She enjoys applying graphic design and photography principles to her web design.

Monday, November 08, 2004

How to Choose Stock Photography for your Web Site

Here's another article of interest from Kelly Paal

So you've decided to take the plunge. You know that stock photography is an effective tool for your web business, but where do you start and how do you choose the stock photo that's right for you. Here are some tips to get you started so that you are happy with your choice.

1. Decide where you want to purchase your stock photography. There are large agencies and small independent photographers. While the agencies will have more to chose from and sometimes lower prices an independent photographer will offer more personalized service and opportunities for you to have custom work done, if that is what you need.

2. Don't go in expecting to find an exact image that is in your head, a large agency or an independent photographer will not have the man in a blue suit, holding a cell phone, next to the white blinds nor will they have the beach landscape with the green and white striped chair. You need to have a clear idea in your head of the message that you want to convey and search for an image that creates the message that you want. (If you want something specific you'll have to pay for a photography to shoot to your specifications.)

3. Make use of a free comp image to try out the image and make sure that it fits with your project or web design. Most stock agencies offer some sort of free comp image for position only so that you can make sure that you like what you're going to buy. Please use this option, if available, and make sure that the image is going to convey the message that you want it to.

4. Pay for what you need. Don't pay for a 300 dpi image for a web design, and don't buy a 72 dpi image for something you intend to print. Make sure that the agency or independent photographer offers at least a printable and a web version of every photo. Buy only the size image that you need for your job.

5. How much do you want to pay and for how long to you want to use the image? This comes down to royalty free or rights managed. If you don't want the chance of your competitor using the same image or you plan to use the image on or for a product you may want to look at rights managed. This will cost you more but it will lessen the chance of your competitor using the same image. Keep in mind that if you're using the image for an extended period of time you will have to pay for the use of the image every year or so. If you don't feel that your competitor using the same image is a threat or you don't have the money for rights managed photos look into royalty free photography. This product is also great if you're planning to use the images for an extended period of time.

I hope these tips help to get you started in choosing stock photography for your web site, business, or product. Remember to shop around and look for what you need. Also if an agency or photographer doesn't have what you need ask, you may be surprised how helpful they can be even for specific requests.

If you have some specific questions please visit my Photography Forum at: and post your question there.
Copyright 2004 Kelly Paal
Kelly Paal is a Freelance Nature and Landscape Photographer, exhibiting nationally and internationally. Recently she started her own business Kelly Paal Photography ( She has an educational background in photography, business, and commercial art. She enjoys applying graphic design and photography principles to her web design

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Why Stock Photography is a Great Resource for Web Business

Here's a copy of a short article I recently ran across that I thought might be on interest to others...

A picture is worth a thousand words. And it still is today. With the media changing everyday photography has changed along with it and as a result is still a valuable resource for web business.

1. Photos enhance the look of a website.

2. Communicate so much more than words, they communicate emotions.

3. Photos can be customized for borders and backgrounds.

4. Photos have more impact than clip art. (They tend to give a more professional look.)

5. Stock photography is a big business and affordable stock is out there.

As a web business you’re most likely a small business and have a limited budget and that’s where stock photography can be great resource for you. You can spend as little as $10.00 or as much as $200.00 plus on one image. (Consider that if you hired a professional commercial photographer to shoot a few rolls of film to your specifications it would cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.)

Things to remember when shopping for stock photography:

1. Know what you want, start with a generic idea and get specific as you shop (Remember you probably will not find the exact image that you have in your head, be open to good photos that you find along the way.)

2. Shop around, try the larger agencies try the independents too. (Larger agencies offer more to chose from independent photographers offer more personalized service.)

3. Know what you’re going to use it for, stock photography belongs to the photographer who created it, or the agency, so know what you need it for there can and will be limitations of use.

4. Know what format you need, you only need 72 dpi for the web, be careful that you don’t pay for a higher quality when you don’t need it. (300 dpi for printing purposes)

5. Know your terms for the industry, Make sure that you know what the difference is between royalty free and rights managed, and any other terms the business may use. If something is not clear on their site contact them and ask for clarification.

So remember you can add a little more impact and emotion to your site by making use of the stock photography out there today.

About the Author
Kelly Paal is a Freelance Nature and Landscape Photographer, exhibiting nationally and internationally. Recently she started her own business Kelly Paal Photography ( She has an educational background in photography, business, and commercial art. She enjoys applying graphic design and photography principles to her web design.

Friday, July 23, 2004


I think each of us have internal drives and talents that are just waiting to be discovered.   When the discovery happens, it often comes with a realization that “it feels right”.   It is very fortunate when this is discovered early in life.   For some of us though, the discovery does not take place until much later.  This is how it was with me and photography.

Although I had really enjoyed “taking pictures” though the years (as our numerous family photo albums will attest), my personal epiphany took place a about three years ago at the not so tender age of 54.  That’s after I had purchased a digital camera to take photos of items my wife and I were selling on eBay.  Before that, I had used an old, hand me down Ricoh 35 mm rangefinder camera for many years, and had even purchased a Nikon 35mm SLR.  With the film cameras, I did take several nice photographs.  However, many times I had high hopes when I snapped the pictures, only to be disappointed the following week by the prints.  Of course, much of this was likely due to me getting the prints processed at the local discount store, and being too cheap to use a professional printer.

Having spent most of my 30+ year career in Information Technology, the move of photography into the digital world was a godsend for me.  A Nikon digital camera, Photoshop, and an Epson photo printer finally gave me the control I longed for.  At last, I could print what my eyes were seeing!