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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Where to buy Stock Images

There are a number of vendors that sell stock images, both photographic and illustrative. Before you buy an image, be sure to check the licensing agreement; there are usually two kinds of agreements—“royalty-free,” as well as “rights-protected.”

Royalty-free images are quite a bargain. They’re usually sold to you outright for a flat fee; you can use it however you choose and as many times as you want. Along with all this freedom comes the disadvantage of non-exclusivity: it’s possible that the same image you’re using could be bought by anyone else (including your competition) and used in the same way at the same time.

If it’s important that you have more exclusive rights to a particular stock image, you can choose rights-protected images. These are not offered as royalty-free—you “rent” them for a specific use and sometimes for a specific length of time. To prevent any overlapping of usage and to give the appearance of exclusive use, the copyright owner (the stock image provider) keeps track of who is using which images, as well as how and where they’re being used. The more exclusive your agreement, the higher the fee. The size and exposure of your project also affects the fee.

Most stock image providers can provide single-image downloads from their web site, or they can ship a CD directly to you. Royalty-free single download prices are very reasonable and are usually based on file size. Typically, a 600k, 5×7-inch, 72 dpi image file is very inexpensive (something like $25); a 10MB, 5×7-inch, 300 dpi image file is medium-priced; and a 28MB, 8×11-inch, 300 dpi image is more expensive (like $150 and up).

EyeWire, Inc.
(our personal favorite)

Comstock Images



Adobe Systems

Getty Images, Inc.
You can search a large number of stock photo and illustration sources from this one site

The Bettman Archives are now owned by Bill Gates and can be found at or

There are many others. Go to Yahoo and search for “stock photo.”

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