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Stock photography is the supply of photographs which are often licensed for specific uses. The stock photo industry, which began to gain hold in the 1920s, has established models including traditional macrostock photography, midstock photography, and microstock photography. Conventional stock agencies charge from several hundred to several thousand US dollars per image, while microstock photography may sell for around US$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.Themes for stock photos are diverse, although Megan Garber of The Atlantic wrote in 2012 that "one of the more wacky/wondrous elements of stock photos is the manner in which, as a genre, they've developed a unifying editorial sensibility. To see a stock image is... to know you're seeing a stock image." Historically notable traditional stock photo agencies have included RobertStock, the Bettman Archive in New York, and the Hulton Archive in the United Kingdom, among many others. In the 1990s companies such as Photodisc in Seattle, Washington, began selling CD ROMs with packs of images, pioneering the royalty-free licensing system at a time when Rights Managed licensing was the norm in the stock industry.

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