Credit: Getty Images / Handout 476996143
It’s no news that we live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. Celebrity photos, just like celebrities themselves, are everywhere. So it’s likely that you want to ride the trend wave and buy celebrity pictures to use in your blog, magazine, ebook or other projects. Here you will find the best places to buy celebrity photos at the best prices.
But beware. There are a few things you need to know before buying celebrity photos. Celebrities’ likeness is part of their business, and so they’re very protective of their image. What kind of photo you are looking for and how are you planning to use it are the main points to consider, and you must make sure you understand licenses and restrictions that apply to these photos.
Where to Buy Celebrity Stock Photos?
One of the best places to get great celebrity stock photos is Getty Images. This company is the leader in celebrity editorial content. They work mostly with Rights Managed licenses (meaning the price of the image depends on the intended use for it), and their celebrity photos can be used as part of articles in publications like blogs, online magazines or newspapers, etc. Get Getty Images Editorial Celebrity photos here!
One great thing about Getty Images is they have an very big network of photographers and partner companies that bring thousands of new celebrity photos every day. In their gallery you can find celebrity photos of all kind. They have dedicated collections for each Hollywood & entertainment industry event they cover (some of the most recent are the Annual Cannes Film Festival, the Billboard Latin Music Awards and Coachella, for example), as well as high-profile events attended by celebrities, like the Kentucky Derby or the White House Correspondent's Dinner. And they have galleries for all major events like the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and more.
The also cover fashion industry events. One of the latest coverages is the Manus x Machina exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's (Met) Costume Institute, but they have lots of galleries covering Fashion Weeks in all the world's fashion capitals and more.
They have a whole section for sports celebrity photos. They have images from main events like UEFA's Euro 2016, the tennis Open Championships, NBA games, NFL league, Champions Hockey League, FIFA tournaments, the Olympics, and related events like trainning sessions, press conferences, announcement meetings, etc.
In addition, they also include include collections with more specific content. Contour collection specialises in artistic portraiture of celebrities, and is subdivided by celebrities from film, fashion, business, arts and more fields. And the Royals collection is filled with photos of lots of the world's royal families and their members.
Any kind of celebrity photo you're looking for, Getty Images has it. They display collections by topic, event and date, making it easy for you to find exactly what you're looking for. But Getty works with Rights Managed licenses, customizing price of photos according to the use you want to make of them. This commonly comes at a higher price than most Royalty-Free photos at microstock agencies.
Getty Images' Best Value Offer: UltraPacks for Celebrity Stock Photos
Now Getty Images has a great offer for photo buyers: the UltraPacks. These are image packs that you pay upfront and can use to download images whenever you want. As long as you log in to your account at least once in the year after purchase, the downloads you bought never expire. An extra benefit is you don't have to preselect the photos you want to buy, but only estimate how many you'll need and pay them upfront.
UltraPacks are from 5 images for $800 up to 25 images for $3,250 for their highest resolution. This way you can save from 10% to 30% from regular image prices. There's lower-priced packs for lower resolution images, and you can also buy larger packs via their sales team. You can buy different UltraPacks simultaneously, and there's no periodic fees with this offer. Get your Getty Images UltraPack now!
UltraPacks include most of Getty's Editorial Rights Managed photos as well as all Creative Royalty-Free collections for photos and video. This offer's Editorial license comes with extra rights like unlimited print run and impressions and ability to share downloads with your team members or clients; but they also include restrictions like a 15-year period for image usage and prohibition to use photos in print covers.
If your budget can afford it, Getty Images is the best place to get celebrity photos!
What's a Good and Cheaper Alternative to Getty Images?
The answer is: Shutterstock. They're one of the top microstock agencies, and they only sell Royalty Free stock photos (this means you pay a flat fee to use the photos). In the last year they've expanded their offer for editorial content, and now they have a huge supply of famous celebrity stock photos. See our full review of Shutterstock here!
In 2015, Shutterstock acquired the press photo agency Rex Features. Rex focuses in editorial imagery, and has a very big archive as well as millions of fresh photos of celebrities in different events. Shutterstock operates Rex Features as a separate brand and website. To find out more about Shutterstock's perspective and plans for Rex Features, check out our interview with Shutterstock's VP Ben Pfeiffer here!
That same year they closed a few partnership deals with other suppliers, whom bring thousands of high quality celebrity stock photos to Shutterstock's galleries. Penske Media is an international media conglomerate producing pro-style celebrity photos from exclusive, A-class events and venues; BFA, a photo agency specializing in fashion photos and covering high-profile fashion events and venues; Associated Press, famous global news photo agency; all of them now supply photos for Shutterstock collections.
Ben Pfeiffer, now Senior VP at Shutterstock, tells us that “While we continue to expand our editorial offering, we are focused on offering the highest quality of content across a broad range of editorial subjects”. And they are making it: in the past year they added photos from over 1000 top class celebrity events, including the Oscars and the Golden Globes, and achieved to have exclusive photos from inside the Met gala, one of the biggest celebrity fashion events in the US. Ben says “It is important that we leverage our technology to improve the processes that are in place and deliver stronger offering to our customers”, and this was one of the reasons Shutterstock founder and CEO Jon Oringer was shooting at the TriBeCa Film Festival recently.
However, Shutterstock's celebrity editorial content is only available to customers to Premier and Enterprise service. To access these collections you must have a Premier or Enterprise account, as they're not available in their general galleries. These accounts have a different price than regular subscriptions, but they come with this and other bonus benefits. Sign up for Shutterstock here! And you save more money with our Shutterstock Coupon Code!
The other way is to buy directly from Rex Features. To do this, you must sign up on their website first. Keep in mind Rex's prices depend on the intended use for the images, and their license can be adjusted to fit the buyer's needs, but their standard terms include a one-time use requirement (meaning the photo can only be used in only one placement, only once. If you want to use the same photo again, you must buy a new license).
Getty or Shutterstock?
Shutterstock is now a strong competitor to Getty Images in celebrity editorial photos, but this is a market segment they're new to. Shutterstock has always been focused in commercial, Royalty-Free photos.
Getty Images on the other hand has dominated in editorial stock for decades. They count with many distributors and supplier partners, and they also have their own network of photographers shooting celebrity photos for them -sometimes exclusively-.
Shutterstock's photographers network is not comparable to that of Getty, at least for now, because they put more effort in partnerships. But they both have great quality and even exclusive celebrity photos.
What Types of Celebrity Photos Can You Buy?
There's a lot of different kinds of celebrity photos. First, of course, celebrities come from different backgrounds: entertainment (films, TV, music, theatre), fashion, sports, etc. But then there's differences regarding content and style of the images.
PR (Public Relations) images are photos that celebrities or their PR manager have authorized specifically to be used in press. You can also get candid shots: spontaneous and non-posed photos from red carpet or any other moments in public events. Studio photos are rarer to get in stock photography agencies: these are shots depicting celebrities in an artistic production (like portraitures for example). Then there's papparazzi photos, which are candid and often taken without the celebrity's knowledge or consent. Papparazzi photos are not often found in stock agencies: the photographers tend to negotiate their licensing price directly with the publishers.
Getty Images has a huge variety in PR, candid and even studio shots (they have Contour by Getty, a specific collection of celebrities portraits). Shutterstock also has millions of images in all the styles in their Premium segment.
What Can you Do and What Can't you Do with Celebrity Photos?
Most stock photography agencies sell celebrity photos with an Editorial license. This license lets you use celebrity photos in print or digital media (magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc) as part of articles, to illustrate them, and some other non-profitable uses.
If you want to use celebrity photos in any other way, say, as part of a design to sell, as part of a product to be sold, or to promote your site or business, you need a Commercial license. Practically no stock photo agency offers this, so if you want a Commercial license to a celebrity photo, you must get the license and needed permission from the said celebrity yourself.
Plus, Editorial licenses for celebrity photos come with some restrictions. Besides prohibiting to use the photos for commercial intention, they also forbid photos to be altered or edited -this means no cropping, resizing, excessive retouching, etc.-, and they cannot be used in a defamatory way (meaning any way that gives a negative connotation to the celebrity's persona). Plus, some agencies like Shutterstock's Rex Features introduce further limitations: they don't allow photos to be used in social media nor mobile platforms; however, these rights can be negotiated directly with them.
You must keep in mind that celebrities use their likeness and public persona for business purposes: they lend their name and image to promote brands and products, and to marketing themselves and their work. Therefore they're very protective about their image and how people use it.
Always make sure you understand the licensing terms for celebrity photos, what you're allowed to do with the photos and what is not allowed, and that you're using the photos in a consented way.
How to Use Celebrity Photos for your Blog, Magazine or other publications
The Editorial license is perfect for this: with this license you can use photos in your blog or publication as long as it's to illustrate a topic or article and not as part of a template or web design, nor for promotional purposes.
Get high quality celebrity photos for your articles in Shutterstock now! Remember that to get the top-class content you'll need a Premier or Enterprise subscription!
Keep in mind that Standard Editorial licenses may include restrictions to number of copies allowed, and you might need an Extended license to get a higher allowance or unlimited copies.
How to Get Permission to Use Celebrity Photos Commercially?
As celebrities image is part of their personal brand and business, the majority of them do not grant royalty-free commercial licenses for their photos, because they want to be able to control who uses their image for profit, and how and why they do it. The only commercial license available for celebrity photos is Rights Managed.
While Getty Images, Rex Features and other agencies work with Rights Managed licenses, they do it for Editorial use only. They specify in their terms that they do not grant nor facilitate model releases nor permissions to use celebrity photos commercially.
So, how to be able to use celebrity photos commercially? You need to find and contact the celebrity's manager, and negotiate with said celebrity a fee for your intended use of their photos. This is commonly a much higher price than Editorial and that most of commercial RF photos.
But here's a curious tip that could sometimes be used as a hack: Some celebrities modeled for stock photos in their early days, before being famous. Although often dated, those images are also commonly model-released and available for commercial use with an RF license (therefore, much cheaper). Sometimes once the model reaches celebrity status, they negotiate with the photographers to retrieve the images and take them out of circulation. If you really need to buy a celebrity photo to use commercially but you can't work with their schedule and fees, you can try and fish out for their pre-fame stock photos. Some examples of celebrities with a stock photo past are actors Bradley Cooper and John Boyega.
Ready to find and buy celebrity photos for your blog or publication?