Stock photography is the provision of photographs, usually licensed for a specific purpose. The stock photo industry emerged in the 1920s, establishing traditional modes of macro photography, intermediate photography and micro photography. Whereas traditional photography agencies charge anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per image, micro-stock photography can fetch around $25. Traditionally, professional stock photographers contracted their images with one or more stock agents, while stock agents could accept high-quality photos from amateur photographers through online submissions.
In the photography and illustration industries, royalty-free (RF) refers to a copyright license that gives users the right to use an image without many restrictions on a one-time payment to the licensor. Therefore, users can use the image in multiple projects without purchasing additional licenses. RF licenses cannot be granted exclusively. In stock photography, RF is one of the most common licenses, sometimes the opposite of rights management licenses, and is often used for subscription or micro stock photography based business models.