Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses. Conventional stock agencies charge from several hundred to several thousand dollars per image, while stock photography websites may sell for around USD 25 cents. Professional stock photographers traditionally place their images with one or more stock agencies on a contractual basis, while stock agencies may accept the high-quality photos of amateur photographers through online submission. Some online photo websites have created unique software to search for fitting stock photos, for example searching for complicated keyword combinations, color, shapes, and moods. Other search engines may seek to quantify the best photos by looking for elements as diverse as "bright lights," "evidence of emotional connections between people," and the tilt of faces.
Shutterstock is an American stock photography provider headquartered in New York City. Founded in 2003 by programmer and photographer Jon Oringer, Shutterstock maintains a library of around 125 million royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations, with around 4 million video clips and music tracks available for licensing. Originally a subscription site only, Shutterstock expanded beyond subscriptions into a la carte pricing in 2008, and has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012. Shutterstock licenses media for online download on behalf of photographers, designers, illustrators, videographers and musicians, maintaining a library of around 125 million royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations. Shutterstock also has around 4 million video clips and music clips in its portfolio.The Atlantic further wrote that Shutterstock is "a web community in the manner of a Facebook or a Twitter or a Pinterest, with its value relying almost entirely on the enthusiasms of its contributors." "Shutterstock is e-commerce with a twist, and its success depends on its contributors' ability to predict, and then provide, products that its subscribers will want to buy." With potential contributors able to apply to the site for free, Shutterstock has a team of reviewers "charged with ensuring editorial consistency and quality." As of 2016, if one of ten of a photographer's pictures are accepted, then they become a Shutterstock contributor. They supply keywords, categorize the images, and submit them to the "inspection queue", where images are examined for quality, usefulness and copyright and trademark laws. Each time an image is downloaded, the photographer receives a flat rate. As of March 2015, contributors added around 50,000 new images daily, and Shutterstock had paid around $250 million to contributors since its founding. In 2014, it paid $80 million to contributors.
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