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A Guide to Licensing Stock Photos by Andy Butler

This is a short guide to stock photography for image users

What are stock photographs?

Put very simply, stock photographs are photographs that a photographer has already taken and therefore they are “in stock”. You don’t need to commission the photographer to take the photo as he/she already has it.

How do I get the photo

With some stock libraries or agencies you need to open an account or buy credits to licence a number of photos. I don’t do that. All you need to do is email me with the photo reference number/s and brief details of how you will be using the photo/s. I’ll then send you an invoice with payment instructions and as soon as I receive payment I’ll either email the photo/s to you or send a link where you can download the photos.

When I pay do I own the photograph

This is a common question and the answer is you are buying a non exclusive licence to use the photo, you are not buying the photo. Copyright remains with the photographer at all times.

Can I use the photo for anything

Although the licence is very wide ranging there are a few restrictions.

For example Licenses are non transferable, this means any photo you are licensed to use is for your use only, you cannot lend, supply or sell the photo or its licence to any other person or business. If someone else wants to use the photo they must purchase their own licence to use it. There are a few other restrictions such as the image must not be used in a defamatory or derogatory way and must not be used for any illegal, immoral or pornographic purpose. Full details of permitted use and exclusions are in the licence document.

If you have any other questions regarding licencing a photo please contact me.

I'm Head of Photographic for the Hastings Observer/Eastbourne Herald group.

Every year we publish school reception class photographs but sometimes need help from freelance photographers to meet our deadlines.

I asked Andy if he could arrange and then take all the photographs from the schools covering Hastings, Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford. Andy not only arranged every single photograph to be taken, he also went around photographing each class and managed to submit all the photographs on time, which was a very tall order because we had a very tight deadline. The service that Andy provided was fantastic; I would highly recommend Andy to anybody.

Justin Lycett (Head of Photographic, Hastings Observer/Eastbourne Herald Group).


Andy has carried out quite a few business assignments for me and has always been professional and excellent in the way he does "posed for photos" but more importantly excellent photos of people unaware that he is there and getting a more relaxed feel to his work.

Recently I used him for a large family photo shoot, something which with a small baby is not easy. The end result of the session were photos that the whole family were delighted with and something to keep for the family album.

Susan from Eastbourne

Award WinningPhotographer

I'd like to give a big thank you to Andy Butler for all his tireless work yesterday, kept trying to get him to have a drink but the man is a real professional and politley refused every time. He spent hours and hours taken some amazing pictures and he never slowed down. If anyone needs a photographer for any event, there is no one I would recommend higher than andy. Thank you very much Andy for capturing all of our special day, it was a long one.

Rob Waldron - August 2016

The content of this website is copyright of Andy Butler and may not be copied or published without consent.  Photographs copied without a licence will be charged at 5 x uncredited rate plus any recovery or legal fees.