I’m currently working on a project and am in need of some royalty-free stock photos. Google image search pulls up some appropriate photos at a couple different stock sites (Shutterstock and 123rf).
The thing is, I’ve never used these sites before, and I was under the impression I could just buy the necessary image for around $25. Perusing the site, it seems like, even if you want something monthly, you have to pre-pay for a year anyways.
I have some concerns though after doing a little web research on using royalty-free stock images:
Are most of the well-known stock photo sites paid for annually? I think Shutterstock has a pre-paid plan for 2 images for $29, but I don’t know if there’s some hidden provisos that you only get low-res images or something.
My biggest concern is that I’ve read that big stock sites comb the web looking for people who use their photos without permission and sue them, and sometimes they do it to people who DID have permission. What the hell?? Apparently if you don’t have a receipt for purchase you can end up being sued by the big site and hopefully ONLY have to settle it for $500. Should I make sure I save every single digital receipt of every photo I purchase/download at these sites?
And sometimes these companies buy up the small FREE royalty-free stock sites, and then go after people using those images, despite them using them when they were from the free website.
How do you protect yourself in that particular case?
But once you get a royalty-free image from say, Shutterstock or Getty, you’re good to use that in any kind of work, right? If I’m making a print design for a company, and use a royalty-free photo of a cocktail drink, or metal background pattern, I’m good right? I don’t have to pay any additional licensing fees?
Are most designers heavily dependent on stock photos/images? I’ve heard that if you heavily manipulate a photo you can use it for free in your image, but I don’t know to what degree that would work for.
Thanks for any responses!