We answer the 5 most common questions from image buyers

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PhotoAlto / Alamy Stock Photo

Get to grips with buying stock quickly and easily with the answers to these 5 frequently asked questions from our customers who are new to image buying. You’ll be an image-buying pro in no time!

1. What is an Image ID and where can I find it?

An Image ID is the 6 digit reference assigned to each and every image on the Alamy website. The ID will be made up of letters and numbers, and will look something like this: AAA123.

You’ll find the Image ID in a couple of places:

  1. If you’re looking through the search results, hover your mouse over an image and the ID will appear at the bottom of the image
  2. If you’re on an image page, you’ll see the image ID underneath the image, here:

Image ID example2. Why does this picture say ‘Alamy’ across it?

When you’re searching on Alamy, all the images you see will have a watermark on them, which is why you’ll see writing across the images. Watermarks are designed to protect both the image and the contributor from improper or illegal use of the images we sell.

Once you’ve bought the image under the license you need, you’ll be able to download the high resolution image with the watermark removed!

3. What is a model or property release?

A release is a signed document stating that permission has been given for an image or video clip containing people or property to be used commercially.

‘Property’ includes works of art, trademarks, brands or buildings

‘Models’ are the people in the image or video clip

As an image buyer all you need to know is that a release has been signed, so that you can use the image in your projects. It’s down to the contributor to get any releases signed before they upload the images to Alamy, and you can find out if the image has any releases by checking on the image page:

Releases example

Remember: not all images need releases, just those with recognisable people or property in them.

If you’d like some more info on when a release is required, check out our downloadable releases infographic which’ll help to explain things.

4. What’s the difference between rights-managed (RM) and royalty free (RF)?

Stock images can be either royalty-free or rights-managed, with each option giving the image buyer different usage rights. Here’s are some handy overviews of what you can do with each license type:


With an RF license, you select the image size or resolution you need and then pay a one-off fee that allows you to use the image however you want, for an unlimited amount of time. Royalty-free is the perfect option if you want to use an image across multiple projects, as well as if you don’t know how long you’re project is going to last and don’t know how long the image will be used for.

Our royalty-free image options are as follows:

RF pricing options


With an RM license you pay for your specific usage, so the price depends on how you’re going to use the image.  Rights-managed licenses define how, where, when and for how long an image is being used.

To help you out, we’ve created some popular pricing packages which will help you pick the right license for your needs as quickly as possible. If you need to buy a more specific license, our rights-managed pricing calculator lest you tailor the license to your needs – some of the options include how you’re going to use the image, the size of the image, the print run, the image placement and the duration of the license required.

For more info on all the license options available on Alamy, check out our great blog on ‘choosing the right pricing package on Alamy’.

5. Why does my downloaded image file say it’s smaller than the size I chose on Alamy?

This is a really common question, especially for our first-time image buyers.

When you’ve purchased an image on Alamy you’ll have the option to download the image file size you need, but when the image downloads to your desktop, you’ll notice the size of the file is different to the size you picked on the Alamy site.

There’s nothing to worry about! Here’s an explanation of the download process to put your mind at ease:

When you download an image from Alamy it is saved to your desktop as a JPEG.

A JPEG is a compressed file format, meaning the file that has been downloaded will appear smaller than the original file you purchased. This is because a JPEG squashes the original file into a more transferable format – imagine folding a sheet of paper up to fit in an envelope, the full sheet of paper is there, it just appears smaller!

As soon as you open up the image in your photo-editing software (e.g. Photoshop), the image will be perfectly restored to the full, high-resolution image you selected on Alamy.

We’ve got a great vlog tutorial that talks you through this process – check it out here!

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