Frequently Asked Questions

General Photographers Fine Art Vintage Copyright

Q. What exactly is stock photography?
A. Stock photography is photography that already exists. These are proven, hard-working images, photographs which have widespread appeal, and have the ability to sell when combined with sound promotional concepts and design compositions.

But SuperStock transcends stock photography. Our collections include diverse imagery available for licensing, including photography, digital files, fine art, vintage black and white as well as historical images.

These images are available in Rights-protected and Royalty-free categories with diverse selections to fit your varied budget and usage requirements.

Q. Why is there such a great demand for stock images?
A. Stock images provide many benefits for all users of imagery - convenience, selection and cost savings. Images are available immediately, instead of waiting for a photographic assignment to be completed. There are thousands, even millions, of images to choose from to find that one perfect shot. Last, but not least, the demand for imagery continues to grow by leaps and bounds for magazines, books, web-sites, and every other visual medium
Q. How is the price of a stock image determined?
A. The price is called a "usage fee" and it is exactly that. The type of project, the image size, the print run, the distribution and exposure of the image, are all factored into the determination of the usage fee.
Q. What can you tell me about SuperStock?
A. With 45 sales offices in 37 countries around the world, SuperStock is one of the largest stock photo agencies. We represent hundreds of photographers, artists, archives, museums and special collections. Founded over 25 years ago as a medium to showcase and market commercial photography, we have evolved into one of the leaders and innovators in the marketing of imagery.
Q. Does SuperStock publish catalogs?
A. Yes, indeed, in print and on CDs. Our catalogs are distributed internationally and provide our contributors with exposure that is unparalleled. Over the years, SuperStock has published dozens of catalogs, including several specialty catalogs. SuperStock is also the only agency in the world with catalogs from three distinct collections - contemporary photography, vintage photography and fine art images.

Q. What are the advantages of marketing my work through a stock agency?
A. 1. Someone else is marketing your work, freeing you to shoot creatively,
2. SuperStock has a very strong international network, giving you worldwide exposure instantly,
3. built-in name recognition and well established client base,
4. ability to re-sell a single image dozens of times in dozens of countries, and
5. we eliminate the hassles and costs of billing, collecting payment, and negotiating with clients.
Q. How can I become a top stock photographer?
A. SuperStock has pinpointed five hats that a photographer would need to wear in order to become a successful stock photographer:
  1. The customer—you must know what buyers are looking for in an image, and how they will use the image.
  2. Art director—you must determine the style and mood of the photography, including set design, searching for the best angles, and setting the mood of the shoot. A good shoot plan, sketches, and story-boards are essential.
  3. Stylist and producer—as stylist, you will be defining your images by your selection of models, wardrobe, makeup, hairstyles and props. As producer, you will be managing the logistics and scheduling of the shoot.
  4. Business manager—you will need to understand and control your finances. As business manager, you must determine the profitability of the shoot, decide when to hire talent, whether to buy or rent props, and decide if you will shoot in a studio or on location. It is essential to maintain accurate financial records, and know how to control your costs.
  5. Photographer—needless to say, if you are not already an expert at this, you should consider another profession.
Q. I think I have what it takes to be a stock shooter, but how can I be sure?
A. The stock business is not for every photographer. You must have a high-quality body of work that can sell, and be able to produce highly marketable images continuously. If you approach shooting for stock seriously, you could realize an income that may exceed your current income from assignment work.
Q. What are the key elements in the relationship between a photographer and SuperStock?
A. Photographer's responsibilities:
  1. Approach photography seriously, and develop a distinctive look and style,
  2. shoot self-assignments for stock,
  3. study trends and styles in advertising and publishing,
  4. regularly submit new and high-quality material,
  5. implement advice and feedback from photo editors, and
  6. understand the market and study what images are being used.

SuperStock's responsibilities:
  1. Market the photographer's work and charge reasonable fees,
  2. produce and distribute catalogs as well as copies of the photographer's best images worldwide,
  3. provide monthly royalty reports to the photographer,
  4. pay royalties earned by the photographer when payments are due,
  5. provide legal support if images are damaged, stolen, or lost by client, and
  6. provide accountability regarding earnings and payments.
Q. Why should I submit to SuperStock?
A. We represent only the best! After over 25 years in the business, we have become one of the top agencies in the industry. If you qualify, your work will be seen by more than a quarter million art directors and buyers throughout the world, giving your images the opportunity to be seen by more photo buyers than you could ever imagine. Our knowledge of the market, the experience of our editing staff, the aggressiveness of our marketing strategies, and the reach or our international network - we can put all this to work for you. If you think you have what it takes to join SuperStock, we want to see your work.
Q. How do I submit images to SuperStock for review?
A. Often, we have told photographers that we are more interested in the content of their portfolio than in the presentation itself. No, you do not have to buy the most expensive and fancy presentation case. No, you do not have to put on a dog & pony show to present your images. Let your images speak for themselves. Please study our submission guidelines for details.
Q. What type of images does SuperStock want to see?
A. Excellent photography! Your work must be as good or better than what you see in national magazines and ads. We do not want to tell you what to shoot; we want to see what you can shoot. We are interested in images that are on the cutting edge in photography. Your work should have a definitive and distinctive look and style, something that makes it stand out and demand attention. We are particularly interested in seeing lifestyles, digital concepts, people (of all ages and ethnicities), sports, still lifes, travel, business & industry, as well as other images that show the range of your work. Last, but not least, we want to see images that have yet to be imagined.
Q. Do you require model releases?
A. Absolutely, we require model releases on all people photos, without exception.
Q. I'm with another agency on a non-exclusive contract. Can I still submit to SuperStock?
A. Yes. We can work with you on a non-exclusive basis if you are serious about stock photography, have high-quality images, and you intend to continuously produce such images.
Q. Now, I am really excited! How does the whole thing work?
A. It is simpler than you think. First, we review your work and determine if there is a viable market for it. If your work qualifies, we will offer you an agreement. Once that is done, all you need to do is regularly submit new work and get monthly royalty checks. We'll take care of the rest - we'll edit, produce copies and catalogs, distribute them to our offices, and execute all transactions.

Fine Art
Q. Is it true that the great art masterpieces of the world can be incorporated into my design work?
A. Absolutely. Many creative directors have used the images from our Fine Art Collection, and the number increases every day. The sculpted perfection of the gods of Greece's golden age; the glorious biblical allegories of Michelangelo; the dimpled cherubim of Romanticism; the delicate light of Monet; or Rodin's sensual molds of the human figure are all available through SuperStock. The qualities of these works of art have enthralled art collectors and connoisseurs throughout the ages, and still attract creative directors today. Classic and contemporary, universal and timeless, provocative and whimsical: art is the perfect vehicle for your next message. The history of art can provide all the inspiration you need to create visually stimulating designs, and turn even a mundane project into a masterpiece.
Q. Is it necessary to get permission from the museum that owns the original work of art?
A. Permission from the museum, whether through the institution directly or indirectly through their representative, such as SuperStock, is advised. Using a copyrighted slide purchased at the museum store may violate the museum's copyright, and it will also not reproduce well. To make the issue even more confusing, even though a museum may own an original work of art, it may not have the right to reproduce it. Designers must get permission from the source that provided the imagery in order to make sure no rights are being violated.
Q. Can the image be cropped or manipulated?
A. It is always important to maintain the integrity of the original work of art, and most collections allow use of details, if it is credited as such. Some manipulations are all right if they are done within reason. Again, it is important to check with the image source.
Q. Can I purchase exclusive world rights to fine art images like I sometimes do with stock photos?
A. Be leery of any museum, archive or stock house that says it can give world wide exclusive rights. The very nature of fine art is contrary to exclusivity. The exceptions would be contemporary art that is represented exclusively SuperStock's Fine Art Division, which represents exclusive licensing rights to a broad spectrum of contemporary artists. An image source should also be able to guarantee you that they will not sell conflicting rights to one of your competitors.
Q. Couldn't I just scan the image I want right out of an art book?
A. It is never acceptable to steal someone else's property - be it a book, song, film, etc.
Q. Speaking of property, I recently picked up an original Picasso at a garage sale (lucky me) and I want to use it on the cover of an annual report I'm designing. It's my painting, so there is no problem, right?
A. Wrong! Even though you own the painting, you cannot reproduce it without permission from the artist's estate or representative. In other words, you can burn the painting because you own it, but you cannot reproduce it because you do not own the reproduction rights.
Q. How can I be sure I am not violating any copyrights?
A. Copyright law is very confusing, and differs from country to country. Only qualified copyright attorneys can address this issue. Copying copyrighted material for anything other than personal use is basically illegal. With the complexity of copyright issues, it is possible to get into an infringement situation (a felony, with penalties in the $100,000 range, and the possibility of jail time) even without knowing it. Do not take the copyright issue lightly, it is a serious, criminal offense.
Q. How should I address this issue? I want to use fine art, but I don't have the time for this research, plus my client needs to know that they will not be liable?
A. It is important to get your images from a reputable source such as SuperStock. It is often the easiest, quickest and most efficient way. With SuperStock, you are entering into a business agreement. In exchange for a usage fee, we guarantee the service of providing the image and our expertise, and we stand behind our product. We know the restrictions involved, the copyright holders, etc., and we can arrange to obtain additional clearances when needed. Any source of fine art imagery that cannot provide information regarding reproduction rights should be avoided.
Q. Why should I call SuperStock and not the museum or archive that owns the work of art?
A. Unless the museum or archive has a department to specifically handle licensing requests, it usually takes too long to get it from them. SuperStock has arrangements with many different museums, galleries, archives, artists and collections, and we are set up to provide the quick and knowledgeable service that you require. SuperStock can also answer your questions, making the use of fine art as simple as using stock photography. SuperStock can provide creatives with a powerful tool - access to the great art of the world, all available through a single phone call.

Q. What types of images would fall under the "vintage" category?
A. Vintage images are those unique images that represent the lifes and times of a bygone era, images that evoke a nostalgia for the good old days, and images that are icons of our culture and heritage.
Q. Where did SuperStock get all these vintage images?
A. SuperStock has searched all corners of the world, looking through dusty collections of 8x10 prints, negatives, and on rare occasions old Ektachromes that have long turned magenta. Believe it or not, there were stock photo agencies even in the days before World War II, and many of SuperStock's vintage images came from such sources.
Q. Are these vintage images model released?
A. With the exception of famous people and movie stars, almost all of our images are model released. Many of these photographs were originally produced for advertising uses, and we are fortunate to have recovered the original model releases along with the original negatives. SuperStock can also arrange for usage clearances for many famous people and movie stars through their representatives or estates, allowing even the images of the likes of Marilyn Monroe to be used in your work.
Q. I recall seeing a stack of black & white prints that I inherited from my grandparents. Would SuperStock have any use for them?
A. Possibly. First of all, model releases are required. Secondly, if your grandparents were professional photographers or creative directors, it would increase the possibility that these old prints have any commercial viability today. Last, but not least, the prints or negatives would have to be in pretty good condition. If you think that your images have what it takes, do contact us.

Q. What is Royalty-Free?
A. The term "royalty-free" is a misnomer. First of all, it is not free - you still have to purchase the RF product. Second of all, the creators of the images are indeed compensated for their images, either through royalties or through one-time buyouts. The term "royalty-free" is used because the purchaser of any RF product has continued usage rights without having to pay additional royalties. This is in contrast with the "traditional" stock photo market, where each usage must be licensed separately.
Q. Why has Royalty-Free become so successful recently?
A. Success is a relative term. Compared with traditional stock sales, RF sales is still quite small, but it is growing rapidly. The success of RF can be attributed to many factors. Rapid advances in technology - digital imaging, desktop publishing, multi-media, and the Internet - combined with the increasing availability of personal computers, has created many new demands for imagery. RF products have been very successful in meeting such new demands by virtue of its medium, digitized images, as well as its price point, typically well below the prices charged for traditional stock images.
Q. Which is for me, Traditional Stock or Royalty-Free?
A. For most creative directors, the most important consideration is the image itself, that one shot that perfectly fits the needs of your project. Traditional stock agencies still offer a much wider selection of quality imagery, and can still boast of representing some of the best photographers in the industry. Sophisticated projects need sophisticated images, big-name clients need big-name photographers, multi-faceted campaigns need multi-faceted support, and unique advertisements need usage controls. At this time, only the best traditional stock agencies can meet such demands.

However, there are numerous design projects that do not need such special attention, and this is where royalty-free becomes a viable alternative. Its price point makes it uniquely attractive to projects with smaller budgets, and therefore, less demanding criteria for image quality and usage controls.

Q. Why has SuperStock, a leader in Stock Photography, gotten involved in the Royalty Free market?
A. The viability of the digital image market has been proven. It is a market that is not only here to stay, but one that will continue to realize rapid growth. Helping to fulfill this demand fits in perfectly with SuperStock's long range growth plans, and is part of the natural evolution of this business.
Q. Where did SuperStock get the material featured on the EyeWire discs?
A. We produced and collected images for this market niche in the same way that we gather imagery for our traditional stock photo market; through in-house photo productions and in collaboration with our contract photographers.
Q. What were your goals in terms of getting into this market?
A. SuperStock has long felt that the new markets being opened up by all the new available technology, including image discs, on line research, delivery options, etc., have broadened the market for visual imagery. Our goal is to raise the standards for imagery available in any format by all means of delivery. Companies that provide tired, mundane images will not be able to compete in any market segment.
Q. Will SuperStock lose traditional stock sales to their royalty free discs?
A. Yes, we will certainly lose some traditional sales to our royalty free discs. At the same time, we will gain traditional sales because of the quality and quantity of the images that being in RF in the first place will allow us to produce and procure. Because of the price, RF is suitable for more users, more often, for more projects. It can be, and often will be, used everywhere. This is often not what traditional clients would like. They need access to the broader scope and variety of a full stock library, and they need some form of control either by exclusivity or by price. It is not just a question of exclusivity, but also of exclusiveness. The higher cost means fewer people have access to it. Any suit will keep a person warm, but couture clothing connotes style, taste and exclusiveness. In a world where image is everything, the ability to limit exposure is crucial.
Q. How are SuperStock's traditional images different from those found on the EyeWire discs?
A. SuperStock's traditional stock, sold through the agency, is becoming more elaborate and multifaceted. We are putting a lot of resources into producing unique images, creating computer composites, and working with photo enhancing technologies. We are also continuing our search for unique, one of a kind, photographs. The RF market of the future will not require "uniqueness" so much as good, basic photography which utilizes professional models, up-to-date styling, good locations, etc.
Q. It would seem that given the economics, designers get a good deal by using RF photographs.
A. They would get an even better deal with SuperStock's traditional imagery. It is not a win or lose situation at all. SuperStock has positioned itself to benefit both ways. There is still no substitution for the service, custom research and the rights control available with a stock agency. The Royalty Free market is still small, as is the number of images available. Because of the pricing they can be used a lot more often, in an unlimited number of situations, for a broad market. We have spent two years developing the product now featured on the EyeWire discs. Through this process we upgraded the standards and the productions for our traditional stock material. This has been a challenging and highly successful venture. We set out to show the world that both markets could be served better with higher quality images. Check out the RF CD's and our SuperStock CD-catalogs, and see for yourself. We believe that we have accomplished this, and that the market will back us up.

Q. Who owns the copyright to a photograph or work of art?
A. In most cases, the photographer or artist owns the copyright to a photograph or work of art. A stock agency represents the reproduction rights for the photographer or artist through an agreement that acknowledges that the copyright is held by the creator.
Q. When a painting or a photograph is purchased by a collector, does the owner now have the right to reproduce the image?
A. No. The creator retains the copyright, unless a separate written agreement has been signed, reassigning the copyright to another holder.
Q. What about commissioned work?
A. Again, the creator maintains the copyright unless it has been signed over to the party that commissioned it. In some cases, the commissioning party has the rights for a set period of time, after which it reverts to the creator.
Q. What about images created as "work for hire"?
A. "Work for hire" is a legal concept wherein the copyright may be owned by the company that the creator is employed by, when the work is created in the course of their employment.