Stock photography companies accept and then distribute the photography of artists from all over the world. Stock art photography has become, conveniently for many, an internet based opportunity for photographers to make a living and get their names out into the world as professional photographers.
Photographic and digital stock photography can be used by companies, advertising agencies, individuals, film makers or other entities for the advertisement of products or anything else they desire. Stock art is used repeatedly by companies because it is often cheaper than paying a photographer.
Some stock image photography is bought outright by the stock companies. Other companies negotiate payment for the artist and charge small fees when the image is sold. This is called rights managed stock photography.
Royalty free stock photography offers the buyer the unlimited usage of the work but never exclusivity in using that image.
There are times when an entity purchases an image and claims exclusive rights so no other company can use that same image.
The price of a stock image is determined by readership, length of contract, and where the image is to be used. Many images can be licensed for less than $200.