From time-to-time I come across images from my stock portfolio (probably about once or twice a week).
It's really quite rewarding to see them and to know that someone appreciates my work and finds it useful for communicating their ideas.
Correct use of stock photos means that they were purchased from a stock photography service and that their use fits within the guidelines of the EULA (end user license agreement).
When people are included in an image a model release has been submitted with the photo in most instances (in my case all instances for non-editorial shots). Editorial images generally don't require a model release due to the nature of that category of photography (although there are guidelines where minors are concerned).
There are a variety of ways models are compensated in exchange for use of their photo(s) by stock photographers. Models/people may be hired and paid a fee, trade for time or a combination of the two. Trades are very common as it allows photographers to relax fees for individuals who are trying to cut costs (engagements, weddings, families, seniors, business communications, model portfolios) allowing for a more economical outcome. Most people feel it is a privilege to be a part of a commercial photography portfolio.
Considering there are likely trillions of photos floating around online (facebook, twitter, Flickr, pinterest...) that are not protected by a EULA stock images are really in a safer category as users abide by their agreement. If there is misuse of a particular photo the company that makes the images available for purchase can enforce compliance and the situation can be resolved. Instances of misuse I've encountered are rare where the photos are purchased through a legitimate provider. Those who post personal images on social network sites run a greater risk of image misuse and distribution (next time you travel internationally or browse the www watch for your soc-net pics).
My photos (and my family) are a part of my stock portfolio. I don't ask others to do something I won't do myself. We have laughed when we end up in a publication with other names or we hear that we helped communicate an event by being placed on a billboard. I tend to feel that it is a compliment for an image to be selected from literally millions (if not trillions) and to be placed into a communication piece. Remember, modeling for stock photography is like acting... an actor is a real person playing the part of someone else - roles change. Another way to see it is that images of model released models are used in "fictional" scenarios to portray "fictional" persons.
Almost every week I get emails or call from someone who found themselves or was found in communications or sometimes I'll personally even run across a communication containing one of my photos. My work has been used in OPRAH Mag, MORE Mag, Focus on The Family, Billboards, fliers, online ads and a variety of other places... you've likely seen my work and didn't even realize it (how would you?) unless of course you modeled for one of my shoots.
You can view my stock imagery here: James' Stock Photos
James Pauls • photographer