Saturday, 1 December 2007

November Microstock Results

Earnings are a bit down on last months best ever earnings but I did have best ever months (BEM) for StockXpert and dreamtime . I dont have any Christmas style photos so a drop off is expected.

Below are percentages for the month to show how I have been going:

18% shutterstock
16% dreamtime BEM
10% Fotolia
18% istockphoto
5% bigstockphoto
8% 123RF
24% StockXpert BEM
1% Featurepics
0% LuckyOliver

With the Christmas holidays over the next couple of months, I am expecting a big drop off in earnings.

Royalty Free Images

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Microstock Photography results for October

I am still travelling so still haven't had any time to edit or upload any photos. My guess is that at the end of my travels, i will have over 10,000 photos, though probably only 500-1000 will be good enough for stock. When travelling, I constantly have to remind my self to take a photo that while not necessarily perfect, is important as a momento rather than just a stock photograph.

Even though I have done nothing, it has been another record month. istockphoto continues to grow and I had an Extended License from LuckyOliver which distorts the percentages a bit. This EL now means that I qualify for a payment from LuckyOliver (at long last) which means taht I have finally received a payment from all sites I submit to (and haven't given up on).

Below are percentages for the month to show how I have been going:

28% shutterstock
9% dreamtime
6% Fotolia
25% istockphoto BEM
4% bigstockphoto
7% 123RF
13% StockXpert
0% Featurepics
7% LuckyOliver

Off to Africa for the next 50 days so wont be updating till after Christmas now.

Royalty Free Images

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Microstock Photograhy results for September

I have been on an extended holiday so haven't had a chance to update the blog recently. I have had two record months in a row even though I have done absolutely nothing. This is good news as I wont be able to do any for the next 3 months either (other than take photo).

Below are percentages for the month to show how I have been going:

25% shutterstock
10% dreamtime
4% Fotolia
23% istockphoto BEM
7% bigstockphoto
8% 123RF
17% StockXpert
2% Featurepics
2% LuckyOliver

I think this is one of the real advantages of the stock industry (not just mircostock put macrostock aswell). You have to put a bit of effort into it but it keeps paying dividends after you stop putting the effort in (or take a break).

Royalty Free Images

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Microstock Photography results for August

Sorry for the delay but I have been overseas.

Below are percentages for the month to show how I have been going:

39% shutterstock BEM
11% dreamtime
3% Fotolia
21% istockphoto BEM
4% bigstockphoto
10% 123RF
10% StockXpert BEM
1% Featurepics
1% LuckyOliver

Royalty Free Images

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Microstock photo results for July

July was a best ever month for me thanks to great sales at shutterstock , istockphoto , StockXpert. The increase at shutterstock was expected as I have uploaded a number of new images there over the past two months and have really felt the benefit of the "new photo" effect. istockphoto was a supprise as it really took of this month for no apparent reason. This has happened before (in March) and wasn't sustained but hopefully it will be this time. All the other sites were a bit disappointing but the season pros were expecting the "normal July slow down" (caused by holidays in the US??) so maybe it was effected by this. August is quite a popular holiday time in Europe but hopefully there wont be an August slowdown as well as I have no Christmas shots to enjoy the Christmas rush which lots of people enjoy.

Sales are creaping back at Fotolia following the relaunch of its site. Sales dropped of considerably but in the second half of July, they were almost back to normal. They are still experiencing issues with there search engine so hopefully they will get this fixed shortly, or even better, the buyers find my photos at sites with a higher commission like StockXpert.

Below are percentages for the month to show how I have been going:

34% shutterstock BEM
12% dreamtime
5% Fotolia
23% istockphoto BEM
3% bigstockphoto
4% 123RF
16% StockXpert BEM
1% Featurepics
2% LuckyOliver

I am off on holiday shortly for a few month so posts will be very intermittent if at all. Hopefully i will get some great shots.

Royalty Free Images

Monday, 23 July 2007

Albumo over 100,000 images

Rumour has it that Albumo is now over 100,000 images and the marketing campaign for buyers is going to start once they have reached 200,000.

This company that has come from nowhere appears to be making all the right moves. They offered a great upload facillity (ftp and iptc). they offer a good commission (50%). they are offering incentives to get photogs in when there is no buyers as yet (incentive of $25 for first 250 images and more incentives for those who make the 100 club - the first 100 to have 1000 images).

Basically Albumo is doing everything right wereas Corbis has done everything wrong with Snapvillage.

In the long term, sales are what matter so it will be interesting to compare these two sites in 6 months, 1 year, etc since they both started at the exactly the same time with differing strategies.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Dreamstime hits 1,500,000 images

Royalty Free ImagesRoyalty Free ImagesRoyalty Free Images
Dreamstime has just announces they have hit the 1,500,000 image mark. Unfortunately I didn't win the ipod they had on offer for being the lucky person to upload that image. Think about it - not only do you get an ipod but you get alot of publicity on that image too.

Oh well. I will just have to try harder for Dreamstimes next milestone.

[mid month update: Sales appear to be a bit down at Dreamstime this month. mmm. Not sure why?]

Royalty Free Images

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Update on some sites - Fotolia, Snapvillage, Albumo

I thought I would give a mid month update on a few sites:


Their site is still a mess after their V2 upgrade. The search function for buyers is having major issues and pulling up zero results in popular searchs. Many people, including myself have seen significantly less sales than pre v2. However, uploads seem to be working again. Whether it is worth it or whether the site is destined for the scrap heap is a different matter.

Recommendation: I am uploading again. Fotolia was one of my first sites so has a special pull. I am also going on a long holiday soon so want my photos on line before I go.

Fotolia link


Progress is very slow on their site and they are still very much a Beta (if not an Alpha). They still have no IPTC and no FTP which are crutial. They have advised in their blog that they are they will have IPTC (when they launch it (very helpful thank you)) soon.

Recommendation: Hold back until they offer both FTP and IPTC. Before that it is a waste of time as once they offer these, everyone will upload and all the time you spent will seem like a waste of time. Many people are taking this approach so you wont miss out.

Snapvillage link


Well I haven't heard much that is happening here. However, people are uploading and they are already at over 70,000 images. They have done this very quick and is no doubt due to them paying $25 for your first 250 photos uploading (and more if you upload more than 1000). They also have a "100 club" which means that when you get when you upload 1000 photos (called 100 because only 100 are going to be given this status) you earn 10c per upload and a higher commission (60% rather than 50%). A few big names including AndreR have joined this club so that is has some support. Still no reports of sales though.

Recommendation: Personally I would still hold off - but (to go against my own recommendation) I have started uploading. Why, I want the $25 for uploading and since I am going on holiday shortly, I might miss out on this offer by the time I get back. I assume they will offer this deal until the 100club is full and since they only have about 30-40 members at the moment, you still have a bit of time to uplaod and still get the deal. If you want to go for the 100Club though,I would start now.

Albumo link

Friday, 6 July 2007

PDN news

The lastest stock news from PDN. I have extracted the microstock news and a full link is at the bottom:

Stock Tips: News From Photo Agencies
The latest on the stock photo business

ShutterStock CEO Not Sweating SnapVillage Pricing
In the crowded arena of micropayment stock photography,Shutterstock has differentiated itself – and won some respect, in fact – by standing by its unique pricing scheme. Rather than selling images one at a time, ShutterStock uses a subscription model. A one-month subscription costs $199 for 25 downloads a day, up to 750 images total.

So when Corbis's micropayment site SnapVillage went live last week, it was obvious where it looked for inspiration for its subscription pricing. Its monthly subscription is identical to Shutterstock  in every detail: $199 for 30 days, 25 downloads a day, up to 750 images totalShutterstock CEO Jon Oringer sounds diplomatic about his rival's lack of originality in their subscription pricing model. "I guess they realize it was a successful one," Oringer says.

Transparency Cuts Both Ways For Fotolia
Mircopayment stock sites pride themselves on having open community forums where contributors can talk about their work and the site. It's great when things are running well, but when things go wrong...

Take a look at Fotolia. On June 18 Fotolia;relaunched its Web site as FotoliaV2, sprucing up the site to improve performance and user experience.

Unfortunately, the upgrade was marred by serious bugs. One problem disabled the site's image upload feature for several days (as detailed on the Fotolia blog). Another problem shut down the site's system of paying photographers.

The whole ugly ordeal played out on the company's own publicly accessible message boards. Photographers took to the boards en masse to vent their frustrations. Fotolia staff tried to keep order. It was clear nerves were fraying.

"I have probably deleted around 300 posts from this thread," wrote one Fotolia moderator, referring to duplicate or irrelevant posts. "If I have deleted this many, just think how many more posts Support are getting and having to try to deal with every day on top of their usual workloads and please try and be patient whilst you wait for a response."

Sounds like a headache for all involved.

More deals, launches and upgrades

Getty Images's iStockphoto undertook a significant site upgrade this month, adding support for additional video formats and six new languages: Japanese, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Polish and Russian. The site also improved its advanced search tool.

Fotolia announced a partnership with, a search engine that searches free images. Fotolia's paid images will now be available through the site. Fotolia says it hopes to forge more partnerships through its public Application Programming Interface


Sunday, 1 July 2007

New Sites: Snapvillage, Geckostock and albumo

I am not sure why but there has been a few new entries into the market in the past month:

I have already blogged about Snapvillage here and here. It is definately most anticipated of the new entries but also the most disappointing. No FTP, No IPTC and only 30% commission. It is only Beta so expect things to get better there.

Recommedation: Hold off for now till they at least offer FTP and IPTC.

Albumu: Weird name (better than Snapvillage though) but they do have FTP, IPTC and commissions of 50% or more.

In addition, they are trying to get critical mass of photos so they are giving contributors $25 if they upload 250 or more photos.

Recommendation: Uncertain but the initial offering of $25 for 250 makes it tempt it.

Geckostock: This technically isn't a new site as it is a rebranding of Raw Stock Images (RSI) which never really started. They also offer FTP, IPTC and 50% commission.

Recommendation: Uncertain but they are offering 50% so may be worth supporting.

Microstock photo results for June 2007

June was a good month and an interesting month. First of all Fotolia relaunched a new version of its site which has had major issues (this is why I haven't reviewed the new version yet). Sales are down significnatly since the change over but just prior, I had an Extended License sale which means it was a better than average month there. I also uploaded a few photos finally starting onthe backlog of photos to edit. This has has positive results for shutterstock which always does well after new photos go online. It has also seen the launch of SnapVillage, Corbis new entry into the microstock market. Have a lot at my previous blogs to see why I am not that happy with it.

Below are percentages for the month to show how I have been going:

32% shutterstock BEM
15% dreamtime
12% Fotolia
13% istockphoto
7% bigstockphoto
7% 123RF
11% StockXpert
3% Featurepics
0% Canstock
0% Galastock
2% LuckyOliver

I am looking forward to another good month as I continue to get more photos on line. Then I am gonig on holiday for a while which means that uploads will stop completely for a few months.


Thursday, 28 June 2007

Thomas Hawk's view of the new Corbis site - Snap village - and microstock in general

I have been following Thomas Hawk’s blog for a while and in his recent post, he talks about why he believes Corbis new microstock site, Snapvillage (and all microstock sites such as iStock), are a rip of to photographers. I normally don’t get into the microstock/macrostock debate but this is a new and interesting take on the matter that I thought was interesting.

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: Why Corbis' New SnapVillage Stock Photography Agency is a Bad Deal for Photographers

My own view is that there is artificial price control going on between Getty and Corbis' microstock offerings and their far more lucrative traditional stock photography business. While I applaud Corbis for letting photographers set a price between $1 and $50. Why not let the photographer set the price between $1 and $1,000? If there really is no market for these images at higher than $50, the market is efficient and these photos would quickly price downward. If Corbis President Gary Shenk is *really* serious about being willing to cannibalize Corbis' business as he is quoted in the New York Times above, why set the $50 upper price limit?

You won't see Corbis and Getty allowing images by you and I to be priced greater than $50 for one simple reason. They understand that our images are just as good as their Pro images and they do not want to cannibalize this far more lucrative business. They want to keep the myth alive that their images are so much better than our images and to create a wide valley between the two to continue reaping in the millions that they do each year.

I don’t really agree with this view. The reason being is that if Corbis and Getty were afraid of cannibalising their macrostock collection, they would allow the prices to be higher, not kept at an artificially low amount. Why? Because if Getty can sell an iStock picture at a higher price, say the same price as it gets from its normal collection, it would actually make more money as the commission it pays its microstock contributors is lower than what it pays its macrostock contributors.

So why has corbis limited the maximum price to $50? I am not sure but I don’t think this is the reason.

Regardless, at this point in time, both Thomas and I (for completely different reasons) believe Corbis new Snapvillage site is not a good deal for photographers.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Corbis has entered microstock - snapvillage

As I blogged about here, corbis has finally entered the microstock market and from my initial impressions, it is highly disappointing.

First of all the name - Snapvillage. The "snap" makes it sound amateurish and not like a professional stock agency that is targeting design firms to be clients.

Second, in the initial stage the focus is on getting contributors. They have not done anything to attract photographers to upload (special deals - ie. Fotolia offered 20c for every accepted photo). In addition, they do not offer FTP uploading (yet) and the upload (maximum 5 at a time) does not read IPTC data (such as title and keywords) embedded into the photo (apparently if you dont input anything, they will fill it in for you - not sure if I trust them though).

Third, there doesn't appear to be much quality control. From the few photos I have looked at, the quality isn't always there and the photos would have been rejected at all the other agencies. There is also keyword spaming as well!

Forth, from the one photo I have uploaded, they appear to be resizing photos down if they don't meet the next size up (rather than offering original size).

Fifth, commission is only 30%. Compared to StockXpert and 123RF that both offer 50%, it isn't that great. Others like iStock , which only offer 20% are well established and bring in the sales volume that the low commission isn't that bad.

Good points??

Well, they have the corbis name behind them which should attract buyers.

They also let you set the price at either $1,5,10,25 or 50. This seems ok (you can choose higher prices) but there is also the problem of people offering photos at $1 which is far to low for a large image.


They are still in Beta so hopefully they will improve things significantly. I still wont like the site name but hopefully uploads will be easier and sales volumes high.

At this point though, I wouldn't recommend joining up. They just don't seem to be offering anything that isn't already available. They don't have the number (or quality) of photos to attract buyers and without that, there isn't much point.

Monday, 18 June 2007

6 sites with over 1 million images

Download Stock Photos & Illustrations. As low as $1 at 123RF

There are now 6 sites that have over 1 million images. New entries are bigstockphoto and 123RF . bigstockphoto gave a prize but 123RF did it on the quiet so I am not exactly sure when they passed the mark.

These sites are “the big six” but it is interesting that most people (including myself) rate StockXpert within this crowd, even though they have fewer photos.

I guess the key statistic is number of buyers to photos but no site will ever release this info so we must judge attractiveness to buyers by the number of photos. As far as attractiveness to seller goes, site ratings (ie alexa) and users experiences (such as my month stats) are a better indication.

It is also interesting to note that Fotolia has reduced the number of photos it has from over 3 million to 1.9 with the release of v2 of its site. I am not sure whether this is due to a more accurate count (lots of people disputed its previous number) or whether they deleted over 1 million photos as part of their clean up (they were to delete photos with no sales in 18m). By sales though, I still believe it warrants its top 4 status but definitely not the number 1 spot.

The latest photos numbers are:

Fotolia 1,961,129
shutterstock 1,971,332
istockphoto 1,813,000
dreamtime 1,300,000+
bigstockphoto 1,179,000
123RF 1,000,000+
StockXpert 569,397+
Featurepics 301,275

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Fotolia pricing changes

Fotolia pricing changes

Well I don’t think v2 of Fotolia has even gone live yet (v2 changes previously discussed here)but they have already made pricing changes. This is actually a good thing as the changes seem to make sence. That is, they are keeping 1 credit as $1. This is a very good move as it would have been very confusing to work out how much anything was costing.

The second change is to put in a new Small level which is blog sized. The previous smallest image (called medium) is now worth twice as much so this is effectively still a payrise with each image size now worth an extra credit.

A blog size is also good as this is a growth area for microstock in my opinion (depending on whether “free stock” or creative commons take off).

Lets hope this increases sales or at least sales values.

Since that time we have had a lot of feedback from photographers and buyers and have decided to adjust our pricing changes a little.
• The first change is to introduce a new license called the Small Standard RF License. This license will offer images at 600x800 pixels, specifically targeted for web usage.
• The second change is to keep the credit price the same. 1 credit will still equal $1.
• The last change is that our pricing chart will be altered with the introduction of the small standard license.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Gagne has sold 500,000 images at iStock!!

Lise Gagne, recently sold her 500,000 image at istock. I was going to post on this anyway but found this article celebrating her achievement (as always extracts are below and a link to the full article at the bottom).

iStock is no doubt the most successful microstock site at the moment. It treats its exlusives really well and it puts money into advertising which drives sales (I have my least amount of photos on line there but they are one of the top 3 earners).

Bruce Livingstone comment that she may be the most prolific stock photographer on the planet appears to be a bit of the mark however, based on the comments of Yuri (see here).

Anyway, an interesting article to celebrate an amazing achievement.


World's Most Successful ''Crowdsourcing'' Stock Photographer Reaches Half a Million Images Sold on iStockphoto
June 5 2007

Lise Gagne, a freelance photographer who sells stock images online, just sold her 500,000th image on iStockphoto.

Gagne, from Quebec City, Quebec, was the first to become a full-time iStock photographer and has almost 5,000 files on the site, which have been downloaded an average 100 times each. She has quickly risen to become iStockphoto's most in-demand artist, making a six-figure income.

iStockphoto pioneered the concept of micropayment stock imagery and was one of the first social networks in the world to actually pay contributors for the sale of their work. It remains the world leader in micropayment stock and is now the global volume leader in all stock photography sales, whether user-generated or traditional. iStock has more than 1.8 million members and an image or video is downloaded from the site every 2.5 seconds.

"Lise is a great friend, a true artist, and has really set the bar high for the members of our community," said Bruce Livingstone, CEO of iStockphoto. "We work very hard to promote our artists, providing training, business cards, partnerships, and advertising that give all our exclusive contributors maximum worldwide exposure. I believe Lise is the first of many who will achieve this milestone, as we have just barely scratched the surface of the worldwide appetite for imagery. What may be her most astounding accomplishment is that by our calculations, she just may be the most prolific stock photographer on the planet."

iStock artists are paid instantly every time one of their images is downloaded. Exclusive photographers can make 40 percent royalties on each image sold, and 50 percent on extended license agreements. iStock promotes its collection and photographers through aggressive marketing and advertising campaigns worldwide, and has many partnerships internationally that increase channel sales potential for its artists.

"I fell in love with iStock right away, but never would have dreamt that someday it would be my career. But things have a way of working out: I got fired from my old design agency for spending too much time on iStock, and suddenly found myself with all the time in the world to give to photography”. said Lise Gagne. “Now I hope to hit a million downloads in half the time it took to reach 500,000."


View My Portfolio

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Microstock article in the Seattle Times

Another day, another article. Microstock must be one of the hot topics for technology writers as here is another article that has featured in a major US newspaper.

This article follows Kelly Cline, a photographer exclusive with iStock.

What this article misses out is that while making good money is possible, it is not easy. Getting 1,400 images onto iStock takes time (they don’t accept all photos) and some photos sell better than others.

Extracts from the article (full link below)

Microstock photography represents a new business model
By Kim Peterson
Seattle Times technology reporter
Monday, May 28, 2007
Kelly Cline's photographs pop up all over the place — in grocery stores, on Web sites, even splashed on the wall of a supermarket in Serbia.

Cline, who lives in West Seattle, takes pictures of food and sells them online through iStockphoto, a division of Seattle-based Getty Images. Her shots of hand-pressed olive oils, cheeses and California strawberries are available for anyone to purchase, and the response is so strong that Cline said she expects to make about $70,000 this year. She has nearly 1,400 images on iStockphoto and has sold about 69,000 downloads.

"I've never made this much money before," said Cline, 38.

A handful make enough to quit their day jobs. IStockphoto's top-selling photographer expects to make at least $100,000 this year.

"It's the most satisfying job I had ever had in my life," said Cline, who used to work at a printing company. "I can't imagine going back to an office. I think it would probably kill me."

With sophisticated digital cameras now less than $1,000, even amateur photographers can break into the business, submitting their pictures to microstock photography Web sites and collecting a small commission for each image sold.

"We're just now seeing people look at the model and say, 'Hey, this is really successful,' " said Bruce Livingstone, iStockphoto's founder.

IStockphoto's big break came last year, when it was acquired by Getty for $50 million. Getty zeroed in on iStockphoto in 2005 when it began researching microstock photography. By the fall of that year, Livingstone was talking acquisition over breakfast in Madison Park with Getty Chief Executive Jonathan Klein.

Still, Getty was known for high-quality, high-end images, not the cheap photographs iStockphoto specialized in. So instead of integrating the company into Getty, Klein opted to keep iStockphoto separate and allow it to grow in Calgary; it now has 56 employees.

Some estimates place the entire stock-photography market at about $2 billion worldwide. There's little chance of the microstock segment taking over the market, said Andy Goetze, an independent analyst tracking the industry.

"It is still a long, long way to go until iStockphoto will count for $100 million of Getty Images' overall revenues, if ever," he said.

But there's no question that iStockphoto is eating into Getty's business. Customers who were once willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a Getty image are now finding a decent image on iStockphoto for much less.

But Klein estimates that the customer overlap is only about 15 percent. In other words, he thinks that 85 percent of iStockphoto customers would never have ordered from Getty Images. And Getty can seize that opportunity to sell more expensive images to the customer.

Sites like Google Images also present a challenge to the entire industry. If you wanted a picture of a rose, for example, you could find dozens of nice shots on Google's image site.

Using those images without permission from owners could amount to copyright infringement, but it's done anyway.

"Ninety percent of people who use images are stealing them every day."


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PDN releases its stock guide

Hot on the heels of releasing its annual stock income survey, PDN has now released its stock guide. it is a collection of interesting articles which cover the industry, both micro and macro. Worht a read. The article is too long to summarise or show extracts from so take a look:

PDN Stock Guide

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Microstock article in the NY Times

The New York times has just published an acticle on microstock. It is just a puff piece and doesn’t offer up to much info. However, it does provide some interesting info on a few of the pro’s who do Microstock – Lisa Gayne, Kelly Cline and Stephen Coburn.

Extracts from the article (link to full articel below)

When Are Photos Like Penny Stocks? When They Sell.
Published: June 5, 2007
It sounds like a late-night TV come-on for a phony get-rich-quick scheme. But in this case, it might just be true.

Thanks to the Internet and digital cameras, thousands of semiprofessional photographers are now selling their shots through so-called microstock Web sites to customers around the world.

Traditional photographic stock companies charge several hundred to several thousand dollars per image. Microstock prices can be as low as 25 cents, and payments to photographers are even lower, often not much more than pennies per sale.

But some photographers are making significant incomes from their pictures, making up in volume what they have lost in per-shot commissions. And that, in turn, is affecting the business of some mainstream professional photographers.

“Maybe a $300 photo for a pamphlet distributed to 300 people is not worth $300,” said Jon Oringer, the founder of Shutterstock, a four-year-old microstock agency.

Shots of dogs and cats are generally not welcome, while “lifestyle” photographs — pictures of people at work and play — are usually top sellers. Other subjects of interest include food, sports and fashion.

Keeping one’s pictures confined to one site may not be a good idea, if the site attracts few customers, or becomes known for specializing in pictures of sheep while you are hoping to sell shots of toothpaste.

“We did not want to limit the ability of photographers to earn money,” said Tim Donahue, the founder of Big Stock Photo, which does not offer exclusivity.

Some photographers say exclusivity works. The same picture on multiple sites may have different prices. By being exclusive photographers can more easily trace those who might be misusing their work, either by using an image — on, say, a coffee mug — without buying rights to it or by stealing a concept they like, recreating a photograph and selling it as their own.

Those who are doing well selling their work on microstock sites have done their homework: they have figured out what type of photographs a site specializes in, what types of pictures sell and whether the commission is sufficient.

Lise Gagné of Quebec specializes in business shots, one of the most popular genres. Ms. Gagné, who has been shooting commercially for five years, earns more than $100,000 a year selling her work exclusively through iStockphoto.
“I like iStock’s sharing spirit,” Ms. Gagné said, referring to the extensive discussion groups and other client aides the site provides. “It’s a matter of being fair. You don’t have to go elsewhere.”

Because volume matters in microstock sales, a large number of shots must be uploaded. Ms. Gagné currently has 4,900 photographs available for sale on the site and adds 5 to 20 more each week.

Kelly Cline, a Seattle-based food photographer, has uploaded 1,363 images to iStockphoto, and her work has been bought 68,215 times. Significant payments began to arrive once she had 500 to 600 images in her portfolio, Ms. Cline said, adding, “If you upload more, it’s like shooting arrows in the air.”

Today, she said, she earns about $70,000 a year, 60 percent of her income, from microstock sales, and she remains an exclusive provider to iStockphoto.

But Stephen Coburn, a Web designer at Adobe Systems who began photography a few years ago as a hobby, said he would never use one microstock site exclusively. “I’d feel nervous about putting all my eggs in one basket,” he said.

Mr. Coburn supplies shots to five microstock sites, shooting people, objects and interiors. With 3,500 photos posted to the sites, he earns, on average, $6,000 per month.

Michael Shake, a tool-and-die maker in Toledo, Ohio, uploads pictures to 10 sites and earns $1,000 a month for his work. Specializing in shots of houses and new cars, he sells his work to real estate agents and car dealers looking for appropriate illustrations.

Not everyone is enamored with microstock Web sites. Professional photographers see the sites’ growth as diluting their own incomes.

“This is the death of beautiful photography,” said David Skernick, a professional photographer in Los Angeles who does not use the sites. Because of the low prices and large volumes of material, “now clients accept anything.”

Still, railing against the sites is about as useful as hoping cellphones will go away and phone booths will make a comeback



Shutterstock to issue press passes

Shutterstock has decided to join the big boys (Getty etc) and help its contributors get press passes to events. In return for assistance in getting the press pass, the contributor must agree to a 2 year exclusive deal with Shutterstock. This only seems fair.

What this does however, is shift the goal posts. Photos like this have traditionally been sold for large amounts. Time will tell whether Shutterstock can create the volume of sales to justify this from a business perspective (though I must admit that the thought of getting special access to events may make it worthwhile regardless – at least initially).

The big question is how will Getty and the like respond. Their photographers are use to getting big bucks for these and soon, the magazines will be able to get a full edition filled with just one shutterstock subscription. They cant try and block shutterstock securing passes as this will be seen as anticompetitive behaviour. Getty’s biggest ally may be the event themselves as they might not like photos from their event being sold for so little.

The practicalities have also to be sorted out. Big events like say the MTV awards may get lots of applications. Shutterstock will only be able to secure a few passes at the most so they will only support the contributors that have the right gear and the experience. As such, for the majority of the contributors, this new scheme might not apply.

It will also be interesting to see how this applies to countries other than the US. Will the photos generate enough downloads (since US is the biggest market) for them to help out those in other countries??

Note that at this stage, they will not be providing general passes and will be reviewing it on a case by case basis. As far as other companies go, iStock currently issues business cards to exclusive members but these dont carry any official backing from them. It will be interesting to see how iStock respond as thier hands may be tied by their owner, Getty. Scoopt (also owned by Getty) sells celebrity shots but these are "one off" shots where Getty's photographers are not around.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. In the mean time, here is their press release:

Shutterstock on the Red Carpet™

New York, New York—June 5, 2007—No more velvet ropes—at least not for Shutterstock® photographers. Shutterstock®, the world’s largest subscription-based stock photo agency, today announced the debut of a new program: Shutterstock on the Red Carpet. Working directly with its submitting photographers—a global network that exceeds 60,000—the company will work to facilitate the acquisition of coveted press passes, whether at film premieres, award shows, concerts or political rallies. While taking steps to secure preferred access for its photographers, Shutterstock will expand its library of celebrity images, a popular category among buyers. Shutterstock on the Red Carpet is the first such program to launch in the stock photography industry and represents an unprecedented level of support by an agency for its photographers.

Shutterstock is already a go-to source for the creative community: with a photo library numbering almost two million premium images, it has photographs and vectors in categories ranging from people and animals/wildlife to business and science. With Shutterstock on the Red Carpet, the company is positioning itself to be a leading resource for the entertainment/celebrity sector as well. As for photographers, the benefits are obvious: they will be positioned to take photographs that are almost guaranteed to sell well on the site.

“At Shutterstock we are very aware that our success is tied to the caliber of our photo library, and for that we are indebted to our photographers,” said Jon Oringer, Founder and CEO of Shutterstock. “If there’s something we can do to help them get the best, most desirable photographs, we’re going to do it. Shutterstock on the Red Carpet came from that kind of thinking—and we wish our photographers well on the red carpet!”

Shutterstock on the Red Carpet™: How it Works
Photographers work directly with a Shutterstock customer service representative to expedite the press pass application process—these representatives are available via email at Each event requires different information to issue a press pass, so Shutterstock asks that photographers be as specific as possible about their needs. There is a form online at ; photographers must fill out one per event and a Shutterstock Support staffer will respond within 24 hours. In return for enlisting Shutterstock’s press pass acquisition services and increasing their potential earnings by taking photos in a much-downloaded category, photographers must agree to sell resulting images exclusively at Shutterstock. (Note: these photos must meet the same standards of quality to be added to the site as would any other submission).blockquote>

Monday, 4 June 2007

Fotolia v2 - upgrades and payrise [updated]

[update - Fotolia have delayed the launch of their new site. They hope to get it up this weekend now. At least they postponed the upgrade rather than go through with it in an imcomplete state. Hopefully it will be up this weekend as it has been painfully slow their for the past week.]

30/5/2007 - The long awaited upgrade to Fotolia is nearly here.

The biggest news is that there is a payrise. While commission % are not changing, 1 credit which use to be worth US$1 is now worth US$1.36. Time will tell whether this effects the amount of downloads (ie. people buy less because it costs more) but it shouldn't which means that we get a 36% payrise - GREAT!

Other changes at Fotolia include more servers, a recode of the site, scrapping the exclusive buy out, a Database clean out and vector support. There have been a few complaints about the speed of the website (which can be extremely slow - very off putting for buyers - so hopefully this upgrade will address this issue.

I will give some more feedback once it is online.

From Fotolias blog:

Exclusive Buy Out license

Due to fraud issues and declining buyer interest, we have removed the Exclusive Buyout licenses. New licensing models will be introduced soon

Credit Value

We finally feel it is time to raise our prices however it will not be a drastic change. 1 credit will now cost $1.36 . This value is more accurate and equal to our other international countries who use the Euro as a basis of payment. This should be good news for photographers who will now see a 30% increase in commissions overnight.

Data base clean up

It is time for us to clean the database. Since the beginning of Fotolia, the quality of images has really increased. We have received millions of images and it is now the time to clean the database and give a chance to new images that sell as good as the oldest ones. Quality is and always will be the key to attract good buyers. After the launch of V2, images with no sales for 18 consecutive months will be removed from the Fotolia database.

Prices Changes

To simplify and improve the efficiency of the customer experience we have developed a new pricing system in V2. This new pricing model will bring in more customers and thus more commissions for all photographers.

New version

The Fotolia team is very excited about the V2 release. We have totally rebuilt the core code and infrastructure of the Fotolia website however maintaining pretty much the same design. V2 will increase stability, performance, and allow for new future opportunities. Searching, editing, and uploading have all been optimized to increase speed, accuracy, and performance. Some of the new features will include Vector support (SVG Files), image folder organization, and a flash upload system. Additional details will be published immediately following the V2 release to more fully describe the new features.


Saturday, 2 June 2007

Corbis to enter Microstock in July

Corbis originally stated it would enter the microstock market in the second quarter. They must be a little behind schedule as they have now informed the world via an interview with Cnet (well that is where I found out about it), that they will be opening shop in July.

Other than this article, I have been able to find any other detail. The pricing and commission structure is still unknown but it looks from the article that they will not be trying to attract exclusives. This seems sensible, at least at the start as there is no incentive to do so while they are building up customers.

It will also be interesting to see if they start off with photos from their existing portfolio (Corbis owns the rights to lots of photos - the cost of buying these is one reason they have never made a profit). Also on how strict they are with the review. Most new sites are more lax as they try to get their numbers up to critical mass. However, if Corbis already has a lot of its own photos on the site, it may launch with the critical mass needed, and therefore be able to be strict from the start.

One thing is know and that is that this will be an important city to be on. With a possible future tie in with Microsoft (Corbis is owned by Bill Gates) the potential is huge. They will not only target corporates (photos for PowerPoint presentations), but also home users (wallpaper and screen-savers for desktops) and students (photos for reports written in word).

So will I be joining - definately.

Extracts of article:

Corbis to take 'microstock' plunge
By Stephen Shankland
Staff Writer, CNET
June 1, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT

For the small army of photographers looking for Web sites to sell images at low prices, there already are many choices: Dreamstime, Fotolia, iStockphoto, Stockxpert, 123rf, BigStockPhoto, CreStock, LuckyOliver, Can Stock Photo, Shutterstock.

This month, Corbis, an established but traditional seller of stock photos, will add its name to the list as part of an effort to attain profitability. Until now, the company has missed out as this "microstock" market blossomed, with networks growing to encompass thousands of photographers and buyers. Gary Shenk, Corbis' president and, come July 1, its chief executive, is unworried about the timing.

Corbis, the other company Bill Gates founded and an established seller of stock photography, is about to take on a host of smaller rivals--and one bigger one--in the budding "microstock" realm of low-cost Web-based photo sales.

Corbis, the last of the big three stock-art firms to venture into the microstock realm, is counting on its microstock site as one of three major sources of revenue growth.

"It's by no means too late," Shenk said. "We feel the microstock industry is still at the top of the first inning. Nobody's really emerged with the ultimate experience."

The growth of microstock sites has been fueled by the increasing quality of digital cameras, the eagerness of amateur photographers to make a little supplementary income, and an appetite for low-cost, royalty-free photos. Corbis' two biggest rivals moved into the microstock business in 2006, sending a clear message that the microstock business was to be taken seriously. Jupiterimages acquired a 90 percent interest in Stockxpert, and stock art leader Getty Images acquired iStockphoto.

The head of one microstock rival, Fotolia, said he's unworried about Corbis' arrival as a direct competitor. "They have the name of Corbis, but it's a new business," said Oleg Tscheltzoff, Fotolia's co-founder and president. "What makes a microstock site successful is the customers," and Corbis will have to attract a new set.

There often are incentives for stock photographers to sell their work exclusively through one site--iStockphoto lets top exclusive photographers keep 40 percent of the proceeds compared to 20 percent for ordinary members, for example--but Corbis is counting on photographers spreading their eggs among several baskets.

"One thing we have going for us is that photographers are submitting to multiple sites. Very few are exclusively submitting to one site," Shenk said.

That assessment was one factor in Corbis' decision to build its own microstock site rather than purchase an existing one. "None of these companies out there have enormous barriers to entry or competitive advantage," Shenk said. "We decided building it ourselves, given the valuation environment, was a much better way to go."

Corbis can offer microstock members something most others can't: access to the higher-end stock art market. "We're using the microstock as a farm club to find great photographers who can sell their photographs on the main Corbis Web site," Shenk said.

Microstock sites may have shaken up the stock photo business, but Shenk plans on doing some shaking of his own by taking the microstock business into new domains.

"Right now the microstocks are still operating as mini-Corbises and mini-Gettys, selling into a very low end of the professional market," Shenk said. "The big opportunity is finding a much broader customer base--people who may never have bought a picture before (such as) kids putting pictures in school reports."

The other threat is whether cheaper sites will gobble up business by luring away otherwise high-paying customers. Shenk's counterpart at Getty, CEO Jonathan Klein, thinks the issue is legitimate but minor.

"I think cannibalization is a fact of life--and completely overblown," Klein said. But in a reference to the iStockphoto acquisition, he added, "If I have to be cannibalized, I'd rather cannibalize myself and find a new customer base."

Shenk agrees that microstocks generally involve new customers. "Nine out of ten customers of microstocks would never contemplate (buying) a picture at Corbis or Getty. The vast majority of microstock customers haven't even heard of Corbis."

The cannibalization issue may be slight, but the flip side is that Corbis can't benefit from a well-recognized, trusted brand.

And though microstock appeals to some commercial buyers, such as those who produce annual reports and PowerPoint presentations, Shenk believes all the emphasis on microstock has distracted competitors from more lucrative customers.

"While other companies are racing to the bottom of the market," Shenk said, "we're capturing a lot of share in the large, commercial part of our marketplace."


My Microstock results for May 2007


Another solid month of earnings in May. Off my best ever months but still a solid effort. I haven't uploaded anything for the past 2 months so it is good to see things are still ticking along. Hopefully I will get around to uploading some more this month. I have photos or NOrthern Ireland, New Zealand and the French Riviera to edit, keyword and upload so hopefully I will be able to get 50 - 100 of these accepted at all the sites this month.

Below are percentages for the month to show how I have been going:

26% shutterstock
17% dreamtime
7% Fotolia
15% istockphoto
8% bigstockphoto
6% 123RF
11% StockXpert
5% Featurepics
0% Canstock
0% Galastock
4% LuckyOliver (BEM)

shutterstock is again the top performer. Downloads was slightly down but this was more than compensated by the increase in payouts. StockXpert has settled down to its long term average after a stellar month a couple of months ago. dreamtime also did well. Infact, it is interesting to see how the sites are settling down to return close to their all time average (as far as percentages go).

Fotolia had a bit of a dip but hopefully the upgrades to their website this weekend will improve the experience to the buyer.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Dreamstime enters cellphone wallpaper market

Royalty Free Images
A press release was made on Thursday announcing Dreamstime was partnering with Boom Bucket to supply wallpaper to mobile phones.

The release and Dreamstimes website was short on details as to how this will actually work but I ahve always thought that cell phones where an large untaped market. You just have to look at the back of most weekly magazines (in the UK)that target teens/young adults to see that the market is taking off.

I will add more details as I find out.

Press release

Dreamstime partners with Boom Bucket Mobile to provide images that speak louder than words
Global Microstock Agency Enters Telecommunications Arena

Brentwood, Tennessee, May 31, 2007. Dreamstime and Boom Bucket Mobile, two global leaders in their innovative and extraordinary areas of business, have joined together to make images available no matter where you are. Dreamstime CEO and co-founder, Serban Enache, announced the microstock agency’s unique partnership with Boom Bucket Mobile to provide the best-of-the-best photos and images to Boom Bucket Mobile customers.

Boom Bucket Mobile is a mobile content provider that works with carriers, aggregators and other mobile content companies throughout the world. [In addition to the U.S., Boom Bucket Mobile has distribution in the EEU and North America, and is expanding operations in Asia and Japan.] Specifically, Boom Bucket Mobile offers on-demand access to wholly-owned, royalty-free mobile wallpapers, animations, ringtones, and video in the mobile content marketplace.

To meet the overwhelming demand for personalized cell phone screensavers, the partnership with Dreamstime will increase the available images to Boom Bucket Mobile customers to more than 1,000,000 at the very first day of the launch.

A seven-year old community agency designed with the user in mind, the simplistic features, friendly direction and easy navigation will make it effortless for Boom Bucket Mobile customers to discover a “picture perfect.”

Boom Bucket Mobile customers will be able to download high quality candid shots, graphics, sketches, artwork, scenic backgrounds and more on the fly.

"Dreamstime's spectacular gallery of photos will make for one-of-a-kind, individual content for our customers around the world,” said Piper Carr, Director of Strategic Development for Boom Bucket Mobile. “The depth of Dreamstime’s royalty-free collection could make this the largest general catalogue of images available for mobile. Moreover, the ability for our sources to obtain content and communicate with the vast Dreamstime photographer community directly is a visionary, avant-garde business concept.”

With over 300,000 customers all over the globe, Dreamstime provides imagery to a wide variety of clients in the creative market from the private sector to Fortune 500 companies (including the world’s largest advertising agencies, magazines, television stations and production companies).

“This partnership enables us the opportunity to not only expand the Dreamstime community, it enables us to share our photos with new customers to generate more awareness for our photographers,” said Dreamstime executive Enache. “Dreamstime’s dynamic relationship with Boom Bucket Mobile will be ‘explosive’ for both agencies to allow us a permanent place in our respective industries and perhaps even become a household name!”

About Boom Bucket Mobile

Boom Bucket Mobile was founded in 2006 to deliver cutting edge media to the mobile space. With offices in North American and Europe, Boom Bucket was founded by veterans of mobile application development, content and technology. Boom Bucket Mobile is a labor of love created by artists for mobile consumers who love art. In addition to Dreamstime images, Boom Bucket Mobile provides the largest customizable royalty-free sound library in the world, material from local artists, flash animations, video libraries and custom content development.

Royalty Free Images

Microstock photographers average $3,900 in 2006

PDN has just released its survey on which the average microstock photographer makes $3,900. However, 58% of the responants earned less than $1,000 (sample of 865 microstockers). No doubt the pro will use this article to show there is no money in microstock (they averaged $85,400) but you have to remember that those pros will be doing it full time compared to probably only 1-5% of microstockers. To the other 95% of us, this is just extra money and at an average of $3,900 comes in very handy to buy new cameras/lens for us to continue our hobby. It also shows that if 58% earn less than $1,000, there must be a few who earn a lot more than $3,900.

Another statistic in the article is average $ per download. The figures in the study pretty much reflect my own experiences at Dreamstime, Istock and Shutterstock:

In all, nothing surprising out of the survey but good proof that it is a good way to money some money out of a hobby.

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