Stock Photography. To Do, or Not to Do – that is the Question.

A few months ago my Italian cousin sent me a Facebook message, which said she had seen me in the Italian magazine Come Stai.  I assumed it was just someone with my likeness.  I was wrong.  It was a photo of me with a caption that translated as ” 20% of separations are caused by an unfulfilling sex life.”  It was from a stock photo shoot I did 4 years ago!


Come Stai – February 2014.  Photo Credit: Megan Maloy for Image Source.

With a risk of TMI – I think that a fulfilling sex life is important in a marriage, so I’m ok with this.  However, it was a great reminder that I have signed away my rights to my stock images and have no control over their usage.  There are definitely subjects I would not want my image used for – Cigarettes jump to mind immediately.

What is a stock photo?  A stock photo is a way for magazines, advertisers etc to get high quality photos at a cheaper price than hiring a photographer.  Subjects in Stock Photography could be anything from food, animals, travel images, to people posing as professionals or expressing common emotions.  The cost to buy these images depends on many things – if you are buying exclusive or non-exclusive rights, how long you can use the photo for, size of readership and country of use.

Print work doesn’t fall under any union jurisdiction so it’s non-union work. Rates and hours vary greatly, but in my experience models are paid on average $100-$300 for a day’s work. Models sign a release and the images can be used in anyway, possibly in perpetuity. This article really illustrates how one photo can be used repeatedly in many different outlets.

One of the most infamous Stock Photo stories recently was Samantha Owens.  A stock photo of her was used in a Sex Column in The Guardian with the title – I fantasize about group sex with obese old men.  She wasn’t really fazed however and even enjoyed a huge twitter following after she came forward with her story.

Ariane (aka The Overexposed Stock Model) is a Stock Model that I guarantee you have seen EVERYWHERE!

If you work consistently as a commercial print model it makes sense not to do Stock Shoots. The possibilities of overexposure and conflicts definitely increase (not booking a job as you already appear in a campaign for a rival/conflicting product.)  However for someone like myself, who is primarily an actor, stock work has been fun, occasional work.  You don’t need an agent, casting for Stock shoots are often on self-submission sites like Now Casting or Actors Access. It is also a great way to build a portfolio of photos if you are looking to do more print work.  Hey, even Amy Poehler did Stock Photos when she was starting out!

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