July 21, 2018, 05:37:04 PM

Author Topic: "sell your photos" webs like Fotolia, Alamy, Shutterstock, iStock, 500px prime..  (Read 7322 times)


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so recently there was a topic on "How to sell your images" books, a topic on 500px taking some unappreciated steps... but do you use some of these (Fotolia, Alamy, Shutterstock, iStock, 500px prime) to sell photos?
Is there a clearly best one?
Can one make at least a few bucks without thousands of uploads or extraordinary luck, or is it a waste of time? 

Seems that a lot of photographers contribute, which is probably both, a good and a bad sign... anyway, if you have some experience, what is there to look at? Exclusivity, so you can use multiple sites, % you get... ?


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Hi Stig
A few observations based on my limited experience of stock photo sites. I'm sure there are others here with loads more knowledge on the subject.
I have used Fotolia, Alamy and Shutterstock. Mostly for wildlife pics but also some street/travel photography. There are stories about people making a living out of stock photography but I would imagine it only ever supplements their other income. Certainly for stills photography, you would have to have many thousands of images up to make any sort of decent money out of it.
To give you an idea, I currently have around 450 photos on Shutterstock (which I find the best of the three sites) and have had about 180 downloads over the two years I have been on the site which has earned me the grand sum of US$60.00, so I won't be retiring any time soon. The reason being most downloads are from subscription purchasers who get multiple (sometimes unlimited) downloads within a given period for their basic subscription. For each subscription download I get 0.25c. On demand and non-subscription downloads earn more but, for me at least, are much less frequent.
The other side of the coin is that it gives me an interest and it is a good feeling knowing that someone out there is prepared to pay, albeit not very much, for your photos. Given they are pretty strict in terms of the quality of images required, it has also helped me to become more objective in evaluating my images to the point where I now get very few images rejected.
Overall, I think the experience is worthwhile from a number of different perspectives if you are prepared to put in the effort. Good luck with it.
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I've been with alamy since 2001, and am getting utterly disillusioned with them. I have not uploaded anything since 2011. I shoot specialty natural history, so for textbooks. The biggest problem is that alamy shortens photographers on revenue. I only sell Rights Managed images, so low volume, but in theory higher price. However, alamy finds all sorts of clever ways on shortening me on price. On average I get about 20% of the alamy posted price for specified use. It has gone as low as 3% (yes, that is a 97% discount!!!), and that is before a 50% commission. I've given up on asking them for reason, or to request rather to not have a sale, than to suffer the indignity of a dumping price. To no avail.

By now I look at the 1700 or so images I have with them as "sunk cost", but won't throw any more time/money down that rabbit hole. I think I sold about US$24K, so got about $12K out of it, purely has hobby income. Peak sale volume was in 2006-2012, since then steady decline, both in volume, and more so in $$$.

What works much better is giving talks to societies, or at specialized venues (botanical gardens). They pay quite a bit better, and I can recycle the talks. For natural history, I will only upload to CalPhoto anymore. It is for a good cause, education use is free (which I support), and once in a while I get commercial usage inquiries, where I get 100% of the proceeds.

In natural history, it's not only the picture, but the knowledge about the organism that counts. Once you are internationally known for expertise in some arcane topic, inquiries will come in. Had some of my research images displayed in the Smithsonian, which puts a much bigger smile on my face than a few measly dollars from a stock agency.

Hope that helps.
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Utter waste of time financially. Don't contribute to the continual devaluation of photography. Put your images up there to be viewed for sure, but say they're not for sale !


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Thank you for your replies!

Seems, that these... not sure whats the best word... are of a way better service to the customers (buyers) than photographers and its interesting that there seems to be even some sort of lottery about who buys the image, not just if or which...
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I agree with the others - it is a waste of time and more importantly it devalues photography. I have 500px as a portfolio only but have removed the buy option on all my photos.

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