When we first started our graphic design firm, purchasing a license to use a photo in our print designs was a challenge. Photo licensing companies sent out thick, bound catalogs. We’d page through to find an appropriate photo, call the company, and negotiate a price. That price depended on how many copies we’d print and which eyes would be seeing them and how long the piece would be in circulation. It wasn’t uncommon to be charged $500 or more for one-time use of a particular image.
The advent of online stock photo companies changed that process. Some high-end photos are still licensed that way but for many there is a small licensing fee ($3 to $50). We haven’t seen a printed photo catalog in 15 years. There are some days that I spend hours on a photo search. A project I just completed needed 11 photos. Instead of a $5,000 bill, the fee was $35. So the internet is a blessing in this regard.
I am grateful for this improvement in our work process, especially for our clients’ budgets, and for the plethora of possibilities for visual impact. And then there’s the added bonus of doing a search for “bunny” and finding a photo that touches my heart. A bright spot in my day.