The stockier side of photography

stock photography

People on the net scrounging for the appropriate enough photo to go by the theme and idea and content of their website inevitably knows about the stumbling upon such visages of presentation that indeed are ‘rich’- high quality images that is to say, but rampantly watermarked and ‘branded’ so much so that discourages the immediate use of them. Called stock images and encountered fairly frequently over the all treading terrains of the world wide web, these are pictures standout indeed in every aspect of the aesthetics of what one expects products availing out of the photographic art to dwell in and thus reveal as such specimens of photography that capture the imagination by virtue of the finesse in depiction of the world, created as they are by photographers skilled indeed impeccably in the tricks of their trade.

It is this skill- read professional identity of them that is what makes the art accrued out of their efforts so captivating as to entice those on the lookout for similar visages to indeed employ these particular snaps of a characteristic resplendence over the many hundreds and thousands representative counterparts abounding the greater expanse of the www domain. But it again is this assertion in professionalism that is what makes stock photographs not so readily available in the domain of free and widespread usage.

By its very definition in fact, stock photograph is a professional grade photography that despite the more than glaringly evident restrictiveness of usage could at times be also available as free use resources as far as ‘google images’ are concerned. Most of the times though it refers to such photos largely subject to certain terms and conditions of use, whether it be in monetary or non monetary terms of specification. These occur as photos licensed for some specific uses and can be used as an already existing repertoire of visual resources in business intentions or even in creative scope as an alternative to hiring photographers for that definite achieving of a professional looking catalogue. In their capturing with no definite theme to consider, stock photos allow thus the liberty of accessing for clients pictures as appropriate as possible for each of their diverse demands, explaining why the terms and conditions of their use in such convenience is usually expressed in counts of money.

Interestingly though, the scope of stock imagery expands beyond the characteristics of what can be deemed as the artistic pursuit in clicking and capturing of not just visuals but also emotions in representation of the world spectrum. Stock images are equally likely to occur as illustrations or vector files as well as templates conducive to customisation or even infographics and graphics making them a wider area to drawn upon as far as specifications are concerned. But it also is in such generic attributes of what makes stock images manifest as entities aspiring to cater to as diverse needs and demands as might arise that make them part of a cliched- and not so favourably at that- representation in corniness.

So widely established are certain such features that make up the greater stock photography and/ or imagery identity that has dawned upon it an essence embedded in the easy nature of its recognition. Famously elocuted in a 2012 article on stock photos being so unique and yet at the same time so common in mannerism that ‘to see a stock image is to know you’re seeing a stock image’ and the aesthetic across which this particularly peculiar form of photography finds expression is one of very definite establishment.

Within this narrative though, stock images still manage to model out across three distinct manners of description that alludes to the pricing and inclusivity of what they command. Traditional stock photography or macrostock occurs as the highest priced and exclusively exclusive rendition in this regard with the lower priced and inclusive microstock conjuring up a vision on the other end of the spectrum. Midway between these two extremes is the midstock identity often used online in such capacities as what one might reasonably expect from the all serving provisions of the stock photo industry.

Ready to use, relatively cheap, versatile in their conforming to a wide range of intentions and purposes as what drives their creating in commercial inclinations, stock images are often supplied through stock agencies that display their resources of both professional and amateur nature for users to download them upon acquiring of the licence through payment. With the copyright in most cases resting still with the photographer while allowing licensed users use of them for specific purposes of their desire, stock images indeed sort out the nuances and complexities of what one might likely encounter in their need for definite images to back up their idea in business or other ventures.

Needless to say then, ever since the stock photo industry emerged to prominence in the 1920s the scope of it has expanded widely over the course of its now more than century long existence. The early days and years of stock photography saw the acquiring of stock photos through such means of their purchasing as CD-ROMs storing these royalty free images. Even before that era of physical carrying of digital files, stock photos used to be stored also physically along with their negatives in archives and libraries as prints or slides. Contrast that to the exclusively online world of ‘dealing’ in and with stock imagery and one would understand very definitely the evolution that has been characterising this field of photography through its timeline.

Current specifications and uses of stock photo might have transitioned from their more traditional displays across newspapers and magazines to encompass essentially and increasingly widening potentials of digital portals while retaining still their physical manifestations in brochures and catalogues and the like. But the very evident essence of stock images that render them that definite place in easy spotting prevails universally in all expected dimensions of it.

From the very traditional approach of macrostock to the newer model of microstock, this whole exploration in the stock concept of photography has been a journey of considerable timespan. Microstock as a concept emerging in digitalisation of the process of stock photography dates sometime to the 1990s but manifesting in greater merit of it with the setting in of the new millennium. With access both in terms of affordability and convenience redirected also to individuals and agencies in both personal and professional motives of securing for themselves licences for stock photos beyond the more conventional clients of publishers and newspapers even as art directors and advertising and web designers too began taking to this newfound liberty in substantiating their creative expression, microstock veritably changed the dynamics of the industry.

Despite the enormous intentions and widening clientele base to which stock photography caters in the contemporary world almost exclusively residing in the digital, the ‘stockiness’ of its character in being strongly enthused with ideas in unrealisticness, riding upon many a visual tropes of perfection to such extents that immediately gives away the premise of it not being real, is what has time and again derided the ‘image’ of it. Indeed, it is that very distinction of it in knowing when exactly one sees a stock image that has established for it universally an identity not as steeped in desirableness as one would be inclined to hold in all the numerous easy prospects of them. Which is why the use of stock images needs to be as skilfully attended to as the very art of photography itself with tips and tricks dedicated to such pursuits that disguises stock photos as custom ones, ordinary perhaps but realer still.

Why the preference for actual photos over commercial ones is a question that does not require much speculation in answering. For indeed it being raw emotions and genuine identities and real encounters and true existences that most impact people viewing the photos attempting to capture and relay that portrait in as closely related a visual description of the world as possible, stock images defying generally such grounds in clicking tend to come across as staged.

The connect most definitely would be lacking in stock photos- an aspect more likely to be emphasised by the certain elements in rather precision that necessarily outline their categorisation. Overlooked thus and bearing the unwanted potential of failing therefore in engaging audiences as targeted through their means in pretty presentation, stock images might carry the rather upsetting notion in ineffectiveness as opposed to what was expected to be availed out of them. The logic lies in being judicious in one’s selection of stock photos to portray what they intend to and in such manner that passes off as almost one’s own undertaking in photography.

Source: Pexels

Mixing and pairing up stock photos with less general pictures helps in creating a balance not just in the apparent sight of it but also in the perspective that might automatically interpret all photos enlisted within a singular venture to be stock ones on the basis of even a couple some deductions to that effect. Creating a whole gallery with a mix of different ‘flavours’ of the photographic kind together might be a better idea against individual placing of stock photos even when they might not be the only kind finding expression through your project. Also apt a mode in convincingness can be opting for such stock photos that can be customised enough to carry that element of uniqueness specific to a certain individualist expression in creativity.

The choices are many when it comes to relying upon the established fore of stock photography as per one’s needs but quintessential it is to derive out of such alternatives the exact touch in personalness for which one must ultimately possess themselves a knack for photography itself or carry at least a fair understanding of it.