Types of Markets

Stock photography is used in 2 basic ways:  Editorial and Advertising. On this page we will take a look at these 2 types of markets.



Editorial usage involves the image being used to illustrate a story or article, such as in a newspaper, magazine or book. In other words its primary use is for education and information as opposed to commercial usage which seeks to use the image to promote a product or service. Because prices paid for editorial usage are lower than for commercial usage, buyers are usually required to credit the photographer and agency when using the image. This is seen as a trade off and a way of promoting the photographer and agency in compensation for the lower rate.

Editorial use of an image of a homeless man

Figure 1:Image of a homeless man used for editorial purposes in a magazine


Magazines often use stock photography to illustrate articles. Magazines cover numerous genres of publishing including news, leisure and trade. Each genre requires different types of images and photographers that pay attention to the needs or the magazine market can start to anticipate the needs and produce images accordingly.


Most books produced are text only and so only require images for their covers. There are, however books such as coffee table books that make good use of stock photography.

Read more about photography for book publishing


The newspaper market on the whole does not have much budget for stock photography and so tends to rely mostly on the photographers that they employ full time to produce both news images and stock-type imagery for their leisure or feature pages. Having said that, though, there is still a market here and some of the larger international papers purchase stock, often as part of a subscription to a picture library.


News and editorial websites make some use of stock photography, but on the whole people do not pay for web usage.  It can be useful to allow usage of low res images on websites in exchange for links from the images back to your site where rights to that image can be purchased.

Film and television

In our experience at Africa Media Online, the markets for stock photography in film and television have been growing. This is particularly true historical images that illustrate important events or periods in history.


Commercial usage is when an image is used to promote a product or service. Often brochures, billboards or magazine advertisements represent this kind of usage. But this usage could equally be seen in images distributed by a company as part of a press release or by an NGO on the side of a bus. Because of the higher rates that are paid, credit is not usually given to the photographer. Signed model releases are required from the photographer for any recognizable people an image used for commercial use. In some cases property releases may need to be signed for pictures of buildings used in advertising. One cannot simply use the Taj Mahal to promote your own product without gaining permission from the custodians of the building to do so. Such property release would normally require payment of a fee.

Advertising usage is usually required by corporates, advertising agencies and designers. The images might be used on brochures, all types of products for promotional displays and even bill boards.

1 Time ad using John Hone image

Figure 2: Advertising usage of one of John Hone's images of Durban by 1Time airline in South Africa