Say Cheese!

But don't waste time getting photo subjects to say it-use stock pictures.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words-but is it worth the thousands of bucks spent on models, lighting, props and other shoot-related expenses? For small businesses wanting high-end photography for a shoestring price, stock photography could be the answer.

The use of stock photos is definitely on the rise, according to Allen Russell, president of the Picture Agency Council of America. "That's because the quality of photographs has risen, while technology has allowed prices to go down," he says. "Now, [Entrepreneurs] can pick the image, and we send it to them."

Prices start as low as $100. For photos that are "rights-protected," fees are largely based on the reach of the medium in which they're to be used. In other words, using a photo in a national ad campaign would cost far more than running the same photo in a local brochure. Generic "royalty-free" photos, on the other hand, command a flat fee.

Bahar Gidwani, 45, CEO of New York City-based Index Stock Imagery, which has more than 400,000 downloadable images on its Web site (, insists stock photography works for entrepreneurs. He works with reputable stock houses that ensure their photos come with proper releases, which protect small-business customers.

"With the tremendous range of material available, you can usually find the photo you need," Gidwani says. "You can get a production-quality photo almost instantly, without leaving your desk."

Gwen Moran is president of Moran Marketing Associates, a public relations and marketing communications agency in Ocean, New Jersey. She is currently completing a marketing workbook titled Promote Your Business. E-mail her at

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