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How to Buy Images at a Stock Photo Site?

How to buy images at a stock photo site with explanations as to the various licenses involved.

screen shot of featurepics site

First of all – why “stock” photography sites?

Very simple: these sites have photos ready for instant downloading; the images already exist, they are “in stock”.


It has nothing to do with quality and price (we found a lot of people associate “stock” with 20 cents per image prices – no! )

It has nothing to do with photographic subjects (we heard from someone that stock photos show everything except people – no! – photographs of common places, landmarks, nature, events or people – all these are fit subjects for stock photography).

It doesn’t mean stock images are better or worse than original photography.

“Stock” means only that you don’t need to hire a photographer to take a very specific photo, you just go to a stock-photo site and look for a photo that will fit your needs.

(Honestly, “buy and sell stock photos” sounds a bit strange. Can you sell or buy a photo that doesn’t exist? Let’s face it, for some of us – English is a strange language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.)


Ok, so we decided to find an existing photo of a puppy. Let’s check


Type “puppy” in the keywords box and start to check photographs.

As soon as we have found the right one, we should check how we can use this photo before paying for it.

screen shot of featurepics page of photos

1. Royalty Free
Image License
usually means that, you can use it almost any way you want with a few important exceptions. General exceptions are: use does not include resale. Libellous or pornographic use of the image is restricted.

You can not resell the Image, rent it, sublicense it, to transfer Image to someone else. You can not use the Image in connection with “sensitive subjects” (violence, alcohol, sex etc.)

Please note that Royalty-Free does NOT
mean ‘free of charge’ or ‘free to use as you like’
Images are copyrighted intellectual material and a fee
is still involved.

2. Rights Managed
Image License
, is usually defines an usage medium for the Image, period of time that it can be used, circulation, and distribution (territory).

Rights Managed Image License is intended to ensure that the user of the Image (client) has reasonably exclusive rights to use of the Image. Naturally, the licence fees associated with a rights protected work are considerably higher than those for a royalty-free image.

* Royalty Free images are more widely distributed and as a result less unique. In other words you get a more unique image, even when buying non-exclusive rights for a Rights-Protected Image.

3. What if you want just to “try” an image, to review an image for its suitability to your project?

Check, if a stock photo site has a “Comp” license.

Usually “Comp” license means you can downloaded an image from the site without charge, use this image to “try out” in your layouts to see how they will look. But you cannot use this image for any finished project or presentation. 

The idea is that when you are ready to move ahead with the final version, you must then purchase the image in the larger file size.

4. In addition to these common use licenses, some companies offer one more license: Open Image Suite User License.

Under this license you can use photo/image free of charge, but you are required to provide credit to the Author of this image.

FeaturePics.com Authors are
offering ~800 Images under this license*

*Since this article was first published FeaturePics appear to have
changed and it may not now be possible to feature images free of charge
with author credits.  Please enquire from the site in question as
to their current requirements.