Posted September 21st, 2006, 12:14 AM
Stock photos are used by advertising and design firms, PR firms, in-house agencies, etc. For the record: the stock photo house does not "buy" your picture/s, instead the ad agency or design firm does.
Here is how it works:
Once (or if) your images are accepted, the stock photo house will catalog (or file away) your picture. All stock houses print catalogs with many, many images that they carry. Of course, there are many more images on files that are not printed. They send these catalogs to all ad agencies, design firms, etc.
Then the ad agency reviews the catalogs to see if any image is appropriate for a brochure, etc. they are doing. If so, they call the stock house to discuss desired images with an account rep....they then send/e-mail requested images (and similar) to the agency. The images released will have the stock photo house logo across it. Then, if the ad agency should decide to purchase the image, the logo is removed, and the image can then be used for the contracted usage (brochure inset photo, etc.)
The photographer is ALWAYS the owner of the photograph, and contracts thru the stock photo house for the useage rights with the ad agency, etc. The image can be used on a one time basis (brochure cover), or be purchased out right (buy-out) for unlimited usage. Of course, the more usage, the more money the photographer gets.
Do not worry about the fact you have already posted pics on the web. Copyright laws protect you...as you are the owner of the images. Ad agencies are NOT looking in "webshots" or other sites for vacation pictures/images to steal from innocent bystanders...they know the copyright laws!!!
FYI: I used to own an ad agency/design firm and when not commissioning original photography, would from time to time look into stock images. I have professional photographer friends who have some of their images with stock, as well as a younger brother doing the same.