Stock Image Services: A Clearer Picture
Today’s art directors and editors are faced with a dizzying array of stock image services from which to choose, with more and more companies offering royalty-free or rights-managed photos for increasingly competitive prices, including Adobe’s relatively new, integrated software option serving as a one-stop shop for images. Publishing Executive examined a few of the more popular services, which offer very different options for helping your creative department find the right image for your publications.
Comstock Images, which was acquired by Jupitermedia Corp. in 2004, is among today’s most popular stock image firms. The 25-year-old service offers royalty-free photos ranging from about $90 to $600 per image. Royalty-free images remain a favorite among magazines, as once an image is purchased, it can be used as many times and in as many ways as the buyer wants—in print, online, in advertisements and other marketing materials, and so on.
Art directors and editors who use stock photography heavily can opt for a subscription with Comstock, enabling up to 50 downloads a day. The subscription runs $299 per month, and the standard image available for download is a 1.7 MB file (approximately 2 inches by 3 inches at 300 dpi).
Another stock image juggernaut owned by Jupitermedia is Photos.com, which offers more than 180,000 royalty-free images available by subscription. For a one-month fee of $139.95, up to 250 images—which are available in three different sizes—can be downloaded each day. The site now features a “search-by-color” option that enables art directors to narrow down search results more quickly.
the community approach
iStockphoto stormed onto the stock image scene in 2000 with unparalleled low prices and an entirely new approach. The service was initially free, but download bills in excess of $10,000 per month quickly forced the site’s operators to begin to charge a fee, says Kelly Thompson, iStockphoto’s vice president of marketing. In the site’s youth, designers and photographers were required to upload one image in order to download five in return, so the collection began to grow quickly. Yet some designers complained that they were not particularly good photographers, but still wanted access to downloading the images. Once the small download fee was introduced, this challenge was remedied as well.