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Who buys microstock images these days?

Not so very long ago small design and advertising agencies, or even freelance artists and designers who made their living by working on individual orders constituted the majority of customers buying images from microstocks. The reason was very simple - almost anyone could afford a picture that cost just a few euros. Images and illustrations purchased from microstocks were mainly used to create Internet home pages, or issue a small edition of local bulletins, to create the layout of charity leaflets and so on. At the same time bigger agencies were still paying tribute to the tradition of ordering images from large "stock houses" where one picture could cost a few hundred euros. Design and advertising sharks were expressly ignoring microstock market claiming that in most cases only work of photo amateurs could be found there, which also meant low quality and mediocre concept.

However, over the last several years the attitude to microstocks changed. Lately more and more large design studios and advertising agencies check out microstock sites, and the explanation is as easy as that: firstly, practice demonstrates that by the quality many images displayed in microstock catalogues are just as good as the ones sold by large stock houses. So, instead of paying several hundred times more for one picture it makes sense to first check out a microstock catalogue. Secondly, more and more professional photographers upload their work to microstock sites, which in turn raises the quality level and appeal of such catalogues.

Ways images could be used

The main distinction between a microstock and a large photobank (or a traditional stock house) lies in the fact that the former offers images at "microprices", the maximal price being several dozen euros. The price is actually the main appeal of a microstock. For a westerner a few euros is just some pocket change, so many people these days buy microstock images for individual use: for example, to add to a blog, design a homepage, refresh boring desktop wallpaper, or just print out a large-sized picture and hang it on the wall.

As a rule, designers download a lot more images than they are actually going to use for work. The remaining images and illustrations are used as "expendable material", for example, to create sketches or may just end up in a drawer, expecting to be dug out one day. Sometimes designers purchase the pictures they like just to have a closer look and discover some professional secrets of the photographer: what techniques he used when shooting and editing the image.

Most often, however, designers and advertisers purchase pictures and illustrations from microstocks for their everyday creative work - to make presentations, promotion materials, posters, flyers, brochures, web banners and websites, add illustrations to a book and so on.

Licenses for purchase of "commercial" images

On the DirtyPlace.com site every image has several size options. “Original” is the initial size of the picture - the way it was uploaded to the server by the author. All other sizes are automatically generated in the order of decreasing, each one being charged a price. In other words, the smaller is the size of the image chosen by the customer the less he will have to pay for it (which means the buyer isn't charged for the excessive pixels he may not need). For example, “Mobile” size (the smallest size on the microstock - usually 300х400 pixels) will be suitable to design a web-banner, add an illustration to a website or can be even used as a wallpaper for your cellphone display. “Web” size is perfect for website design. “Hi-res” (high resolution) images are usually chosen to be used as a background for other pictures and collages, illustrations and pictures marked as “Large” or “XLarge” are best to create promotion materials of large format.

Pictures and illustrations on our microstock site are sold under several types of license, each having certain limitations on the use of images. Royalty-free is the most common license type applied to the majority of images. This license allows purchasing non-exclusive rights to the image for an unlimited period of time (the right of property rests with the author of the image) without any limitations for its use anywhere. The author is paid fixed royalties that cannot be changed in future while the buyer isn't charged any additional fees.

Therefore, by paying just once the buyer obtains the right of using the picture in an unlimited number of projects. The duration of such a license is also unlimited - the buyer can use the picture for as long as he wishes. The only limitation in case of a Royalty-free license is the number of printed copies allowed - it shouldn’t exceed 500 thousand copies. An image purchased under this license may not be used as a commercial component of a product intended for marketing and further sale.

However, there is another type of license that lifts these few limitations – Extended Royalty-free. This license allows purchasing images with maximal resolution (which also means a higher price) and provides the buyer with more options of using it. In particular, a picture purchased under an extended license can be used by different people working for the same company. More copies of such a picture can be made and it can be a part of some product intended for marketing and further sale.


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