What are Free Stock Photos?
Royalty-free (RF) "Free" in this context means "free of royalties (paying each time you use an image)". It does not mean the image is free to use without purchasing a license or that the image is in the public domain.
Pay a one-time fee to use the image multiple times for multiple purposes (with limits).
No time limit on when the buyer can use an image.
No one can have exclusive rights of a Royalty-free images (the photographer can sell the image as many times as he or she wants).
A Royalty-free image usually has a limit to how many times the buyer can reproduce it. For example, a license might allow the buyer to print 500,000 brochures with the purchased image. The amount of copies made is called the print run. The buyer is required to pay a fee per brochure, usually 1 to 3 cents, for additional prints. Magazines with a large print run cannot use a standard Royalty-free license and therefore they either purchase images with a Rights-managed license or have in-house photographers.
For many years, stock photography consisted largely of outtakes ("seconds") from commercial magazine assignments. By the 1980s, it had become a specialty in its own right, with photographers creating new material for the express purpose of submitting it to a stock house. Agencies attempted to become more sophisticated about following and anticipating the needs of advertisers and communicating these needs to photographers. Photographs were composed with more of an eye for how they might look when combined with other elements; for example, a photo might be shot vertically with space at the top and down the left side, with the conscious intention that it might be licensed for use as a magazine cover.
Here at Free Stock Photos we provide images free for use at web resolution and charge a small fee for high resolution versions of the shot which are free to use as many times as you wish with no further fee.