A follow-up note from a stock photo company

I needed a photo for a large, billboard-sized window treatment yesterday. After finding just the right photo on Shutterstock, I was unable to locate it on any stock photo sites with a high enough resolution. I checked a place called DepositPhotos and for some reason, they had the photo there at twice the resolution. I suspected they had simply upsampled the smaller photo, so I sent them a note asking about it.

Here is their reply:

At least they were honest in their reply about upsampling the photo. Unfortunately, the rest was mostly a half-truth. As they wrote, I suppose no quality would actually be lost in upsampling a photo, but not much would be gained either — even with algorithms that do a bit of edge sharpening. Passing off these upsampled files as legitimate extra-high-resolution images, to me, seems dishonest.

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There’s a lot of dishonesty currently running rampant in the stock photo industry.
These days, be prepared to ask for your money back, and use a payment method that is easy to cancel. Stock sites where you buy credits first are not so easy to cancel as per image credit card payments.

In fact, I’ve started running reverse image searches before purchase to see if there are other sources out there. It’s disconcerting how much “Rights Managed” imagery (ie Expensive licensing) is actually available from their original Public Domain sources. The other day I almost paid $250 for an RM image that was specified to me as available from a certain stock site. Turns out it was available as a Public Domain image, free high-resolution download from the Library that owned the artwork.

I’ve noticed lots of them requiring more credits be purchased than the photo that’s needed. I’m guessing they want to make sure people have a reason to return to use those remaining credits (and buy even more). Then there’s always the small, barely noticeable check box that needs to be unchecked to prevent an automatic reloading charge when the credit balance gets low.

For what it’s worth, I managed to track down the original photographer of the image I needed. His original file was more than large enough and he agreed to sell it for the same price as the stock company.

I spend a bit of time doing that too. Tracking down the original photographer.
At least when they aren’t working under an anonymous alias.
Sounds like you were lucky.

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