Stock Photography’s Hidden Costs — and How to Avoid Them

In recent years, an increasing number of corporate photography buyers have been left embarrassed — or worse — after using images from microstock sites like or photo-sharing sites like Flickr. In some cases, major companies, including direct competitors, have used identical photos in their respective marketing materials. In other cases, corporations have been sued for using photos pulled from the Web without obtaining a model release or meeting other legal requirements.

Ben Chapnick, president of Black Star, says such problems represent the “hidden costs” of corporate photography buyers settling for cut-rate images.

“Every day, marketing and communications executives face a difficult balancing act. They have a mission to project their company’s brand in the best possible light — along with a responsibility to achieve this objective within budget,” Chapnick says. “Sometimes, this means it’s OK to use images from a microstock site. But other times, it behooves marketers to hire an assignment photographer, rather than to settle for less.”

Assignment Photography: A Buyer’s Guide

To help corporate marketers, ad agencies and PR firms assess when to use assignment photography rather than stock or other options, Black Star has created a new e-book, titled When to Use Assignment Photography.

Featuring insightful interviews with veteran Black Star photographers, When to Use Assignment Photography is an invaluable resource for corporate photography buyers. The e-book’s chapters include:

  • What is assignment photography and what does it mean for your business?
  • Assignment photography for executive portraits
  • Assignment photography for annual reports
  • Assignment photography for architectural photography
  • Assignment photography for advertising and marketing
  • When only assignment photography will do

Download the corporate photography e-book at

2 Responses to “Stock Photography’s Hidden Costs — and How to Avoid Them”

  1. The choice is not between just RF micro stock or full assignment photography. I'm surprised that you didn't mention Rights Managed stock photography as an acceptable alternative in many cases. Since the terms of the license can be negotiated to the client's exact needs it avoids the problems that are associated with using Royalty Free images, yet still may represent a substantial cost savings over assignment photography.

  2. You're right, Lori. We left RM out of the equation because the focus of the e-book is on assignment photography -- but RM is certainly a good option in many cases. Here's an earlier post arguing the benefits of rights-managed photography.

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