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Author Topic: Which of the Big Five is right for me?  (Read 10935 times)

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« on: August 06, 2007, 02:16 »
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Hi all, newbie here.   ;D

I'm just about to dip my toe in the microstock waters, but I'm really surprised by the lack of information on microstock companies and determining what might be the best fit for me.  I was under the impression that each company drew a slightly different audience, so it might be better to go with one that best suited my photographic niche, until I saw that people were typically members of ALL the major microstock sites.  Doesn't this create difficulties with terms of services (such as not being allowed to use the same batch of photos across different sites)?

I'm also not sure about what would typically be expected of me once uploading a collection of photos.  Would I still be allowed to use a particular stock photo I've uploaded on say, my own blog, or on Flickr?  So confused here...   ???

I think once I get a handle on how this all works, I can start uploading my batch of 5,000 to 10,000 photos.  Oh Lord...  that's gonna be fun.   :-X :-X :-X


« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2007, 03:18 »
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Hey Lincoln,

wellcome here! Some of us photographers do have websites which lots of information about the stock agencies. I for example :)  Click here
You are allowed to use the same images at the different stock agencies, as long as you do not go exclusive with one of them. If you want to go exclusive, Istockphoto would be the only one where it can make sense, however a lot of us earn more if we do not go exclusive.
Yes, you can still do with your images what ever you want, putting them on your blog or using Flickr. You still can give them away for free unless you go exclusive with istock.

Feel free to use referral links from other photographers or me, thats another way to make money on microstock.

All the best on microstock. 5000-10000 images is a lot, only very few of us have that much images.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 03:25 by Freezingpictures »

« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2007, 04:38 »
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I have some comparison tables in my guide which show the differences in how much you images will sell for, minimum size requirements, upload limits.

My microstock guide

Some agencies will accept virtually anything but sell virtually nothing whereas others will accept a much smaller percentage but they actually have some customers so the photos sell.

Bare in mind that the microstock agencies are all very strict about the photo being royalty free no company logos etc and others are fussy about digital noise, colour profiles etc so you make to have rework some photos.

If you have spent all that time processing a photo and keywording the amount of extra time submitting to more than one agency isn't that much more. Certainly not a business to have all your eggs in one basket.

Good luck

« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2007, 10:43 »
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Thanks for advice all!   ;D  It helps make some sense out of all the confusion between the stock agencies, and what's expected on my part.

iStock sounds pretty strict, but they might be the best choice to start a test run.  If my photos get accepted there, and they do well, then I could gradually sign up for the other 4 and from there I can keep building up my library on all 5 (and maybe even more).   :)  I wonder how many stock agencies I could take on before it becomes too much to handle.

« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2007, 12:46 »
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I'm exclusive at iStock so my opinion may be skewed. However, I'd start by trying to get excepted by Shutterstock and iStock. If you really have 5,000 to 10,000 stock quality photos then you should do well. I should caution you though. I get the impression that you have a lot of photos, and not necessary stock quality. First I'd go look at what the sites are accepting and then look at your photos with a very critical eye. Then pick your best 10 for Shutterstock, and 3 for iStock. I think for most people shutterstock and istock are their best earners (they were for me before I went exclusive).

« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2007, 13:07 »
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True, probably half the photos will probably be of stock quality, so I'll have to sift through them and see what may pass their scrutiny.

I was going to do what you suggested, upload some of my best samples and see what happens.  I've been a amateur photographer for years, but I'm only now exploring this, partly because I've only heard about microstock photography recently, and partly because for all those years I've been a poor boy who only had dial-up access to the Internet.   :-X :-X :-X

Now that I finally have broadband though i fear I'm already too late for the party.  *sniff*   :'(

« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2007, 13:15 »
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Definitely not too late to the party. If your stuff does sell well and exclusivity becomes an option, I would encourage you to then try the other agencies first before making a decision.

Good luck!
-Steve

« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2007, 13:20 »
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That sounds like a plan.   ;D  I'll let everyone know how it goes. 

Glad I found this forum!   8)

« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2007, 13:50 »
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Lincoln, if you want to see fast success, try to get into shutterstock. They are pretty hard to get into, but as soon as you are in, your images start to sell 12 hours after they got accepted. Istock is strict yes, but it is not a good site to upload plenty of images in a short time period. They only allow you to upload I think 25 or 20 images per week in the beginning.Istock has the worst upload process from all of them.
Yes it is true, you will get probably the most earnings /image on Istock, but if you have thousands of images, you need years to get them online, so SS is definately much better the effort in my opinion. If Shutterstock is too hard, try out Fotolia. Pretty easy to get in and they accept a lot. But sales are not so fast.
Oh and you can write keywords and title and description in the IPTC info of your images. The Big 5 will read those, so you do not have to keyword again and again for each agency.

Yingyang, how are you doing at Istock as Exclusive? I am just curious.

« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2007, 14:02 »
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Yingyang, how are you doing at Istock as Exclusive? I am just curious.
I pm'd you. It's too early to tell, but I like the way it's looking so far.

« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2007, 16:44 »
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Lincoln, if you want to see fast success, try to get into shutterstock. They are pretty hard to get into, but as soon as you are in, your images start to sell 12 hours after they got accepted. Istock is strict yes, but it is not a good site to upload plenty of images in a short time period. They only allow you to upload I think 25 or 20 images per week in the beginning.

Well that sucks.

I hope my best photos pass the test.  This should be interesting.  :)

BTW, forgive me since I'm a moron, but what does IPTC stand for?  I assume there's software I can use so I can easily add the respective keywords into them?

« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2007, 17:23 »
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Lincoln... have you familiarized yourself with requirements of major sites for photo acceptance? Maybe to avoid surprizes you may want to post your candidates here first, both thumbnail and 100% crop, before submitting them to reviewers. Experienced folks here may save you a lot of grief :)

« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2007, 17:52 »
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Lincoln... have you familiarized yourself with requirements of major sites for photo acceptance? Maybe to avoid surprizes you may want to post your candidates here first, both thumbnail and 100% crop, before submitting them to reviewers. Experienced folks here may save you a lot of grief :)


I've skimmed through some of the requirements for photos, but I'll only know for sure once I upload a few samples, which I'll probably do tonight.

Here's a Flickr link to a very small sample of my photos reduced to 800x600 (original was 3264 x 2448)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157594226392086/

The photos of Lincoln and Capitol Hill are some of my better photos, but don't represent what's typical.  I like to take photos from unusual angles of a broad number of subjects, except for people, unless in unusual circumstances.

I just read what iStock is particularly looking for, man they sound mean.   :'(

« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2007, 18:16 »
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I see you shoot with Oly 8080... be careful with noize, especially in the blue sky, that camera is known to be a noizy beast. And do not submit too many of similar theme shots for your test. 10 "travel" photos will raise their flag even if they are good. Try to show variety

« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2007, 18:21 »
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Ugh, I just noticed this:

I'll only know for sure once I upload a few samples, which I'll probably do tonight.

I would really advise you to hold your horses... better prepare well, time spent on this preparation is less waste than to be quickly shot down because of the rush and then have to wait a month for the next chance with SS. Take it from someone who happily uploaded everything in sight to all sites at the beginning, not giving it second thought, lol. They do have a way to sober you up in hurry :)

« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2007, 20:45 »
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I see you shoot with Oly 8080... be careful with noize, especially in the blue sky, that camera is known to be a noizy beast. And do not submit too many of similar theme shots for your test. 10 "travel" photos will raise their flag even if they are good. Try to show variety

Variety is good.  :)   I use a tripod and keep my ISO limbo low to avoid noise.  I love taking nightshots and love this camera for it too.  That reminds me, can you get away with post processing?  I have a noise reduction plugin in Photoshop that I use sometimes, but not often.

« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2007, 20:58 »
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Take it from someone who happily uploaded everything in sight to all sites at the beginning, not giving it second thought, lol. They do have a way to sober you up in hurry :)

Or getting you to drink again.   ;D

Don't worry, I'm going to carefully read through iStock and Stutterstock's terms before doing anything for sure.

I have to admit I'd rather see them being photo * about it than to let every Tom, Dick and Harry upload their images.  I'll feel all the more like a special person if I can get in.   ;D

« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2007, 21:02 »
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BTW, forgive me since I'm a moron, but what does IPTC stand for?  I assume there's software I can use so I can easily add the respective keywords into them?


If you have windows, I can recommend this: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/prophoto/photoinfo.mspx it is the tool as well as an explanation what IPTC is.

« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2007, 21:09 »
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I see you shoot with Oly 8080... be careful with noize, especially in the blue sky, that camera is known to be a noizy beast. And do not submit too many of similar theme shots for your test. 10 "travel" photos will raise their flag even if they are good. Try to show variety

Variety is good.  :)   I use a tripod and keep my ISO limbo low to avoid noise.  I love taking nightshots and love this camera for it too.  That reminds me, can you get away with post processing?  I have a noise reduction plugin in Photoshop that I use sometimes, but not often.

Yes you can get away with postprocessing, if you do not overuse noisereduction. Shutterstock is quite picky with noise. Do not be discouraged, when they reject you the first time. I just want to warn you, it allmost seems like policy of them to reject your first and sometimes second application. But if your are it I think the requirement are not so high as in the application.

« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2007, 21:37 »
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I'm a relative newbie here myself. My first two submissions were rejected at Shutterstock and I'm waiting for the 30 day period to resubmit again. In the first submission all 10 were rejected for noise. In my second submission 6 out of 10 were rejected for other reasons so I am improving. I have 15,000 photos myself and based on my experience only 100-200 are of high enough quality for stock. The Istock reviewers are quite fanatical and demand perfection. I would recommend viewing all of your submissions at 100% and look for the smallest flaw because the reviewers will see it. Then edit or reshoot until it is perfect. My highest acceptance rates have been at Fotilia, BigStockPhoto and Featurepics which are 90% or higher. Currently my acceptance rate at Istock is 33% which is lower than I would prefer. Submitting to microstock will definitely be a learning experience for you and will improve your photography skills.

« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2007, 22:14 »
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Glad you intervened to bring Lincoln down to earth a little Niemega.  I was about to post a reply along the same lines as yours - out of 5,000 photos, perhaps only 20 are the right quality etc etc.

Life in Microstock has changed; now there are many professional quality photographers submitting world class images and the agencies can afford to be very selective (and they are, as you have discovered).

I have an 83% acceptance rate at iStock.  I use Nikon gear with prime lenses and $3,000 worth of studio lighting; but STILL they reject some of my stuff.

It is all very well getting images accepted at places like BigStock, but IS and SS are the places if you want pictures to SELL.  I earn more in ONE DAY at IS and SS than I earn in an entire MONTH at BigStock, so that just underlines the huge difference between the leading agencies and the secondary players.

However competitive though, there is a place for everyone, so good luck to everyone here with whatever images they've got for sale.

« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2007, 22:43 »
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I've been reading the terms on iStock and noticed this:

Quote
For greater certainty, you may not:

l. post a copy of the Content on a network server or web server for use by other users; or

Hmm, that seems to apply to sites like Flickr, though I'm not sure what they mean by "use by other users."  The rest of the terms make it clear that they don't want you to resale or profit from the image via other venues unrelated to iStock.  That however makes sense to me.

« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2007, 00:19 »
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Well, after sifting through thousands of photos I've personally taken, I found maybe 8 that might be stockworthy, and from them I picked three samples to upload for my application.  One of them I think is a sure thing (I hope), but the other two were iffy.  Still, they were the best I could come up with since they were unique and had no noticeable photo blemishes.

Ah well.  I'll probably wait to see how iStock responds before taking a look at Stutterstock.

« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2007, 02:01 »
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Good luck, Lincoln!
You can also use this forum for advise on submissions, I know it has worked for others before.

« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2007, 07:52 »
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Ah well.  I'll probably wait to see how iStock responds before taking a look at Stutterstock.

Good luck, let us know how it goes! Also, don't assume that what one of them accepted is a sure thing for another. Not the case at all. Somewhat higher chance at best, I'd say

« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2007, 15:17 »
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Thanks, I will.  They said about two weeks so we'll see.  Do you know if you can still get accepted if only one sample passes inspection?

« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2007, 15:48 »
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For me, in pure numbers..   Highest volume of pix sold,  SS.  Fastest money-maker, IS.  Most EL's,  SS.
    As some have already said here,  they all work differently for everyone.    I don't think there's any cut & dry fromula on which is the best.  Example, just reading on another thread.  Topic,  BigStock vs 123rf.  Some love 123rf, for others it's a low earner,  and vice-versa.  For me, BigStock is my #4 earner and 123 is 8th out of 9.   
     You'll find out what's good for you in time.  ...wishing you success, welcome to the club!!   8)-tom

« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2007, 15:54 »
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Same impression here tom. A lot of people (you included, lol) say IS is best money producer - nothing even close for me, in my first month at IS I had whole 6 sales. Not rushing to judge of course, things change over time... but the fact is, just as you say one man's gold is another man's, ummm... site with no sales  ;D

« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2007, 15:58 »
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  Do you know if you can still get accepted if only one sample passes inspection?

The procedure is somewhat different at IS. They simply give yopu a verdict, you are in or you are out. There may be slight variations like "we loved two photos, third is questionable, send us one to convince us". But those three candidates are not gouing in your portfolio right away when you are accepted vs how it's done at SS. You will have to submit them again for normal reviwe process, and they do not necessary get approved.

« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2007, 23:37 »
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I'll be happy enough just to get accepted at one.  Otherwise I'll have to resort to street vendor trading:

"Excuse me sir?  Sir?  Would you like to buy a photo?  Slight noise and a little purple fringing, but otherwise it's a perfect addition to your collection..."

 ;D

« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2007, 20:05 »
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ALMOOOOST!!!!    :P

I got an email from iStock, turns out one of my photos passed inspection, but the other two failed.  This confirms the need to have all three pass inspection in order to get accepted.

The good news though is that I called it perfectly.  I only felt one of the three photos would pass, but I was hoping one would be enough.  The one photo accepted and the two rejected were based on the very same conclusions I made myself, which shows I'm thinking along iStock's wavelengths in terms pf photo quality, so that's encouraging.

The other good news is that I can use samples that normally would not be accepted into iStock's inventory.  I didn't know that, and because of it I was pretty limited in choosing what samples I could upload.  Most of my photos are landmark or landscape photos, generally the kind that iStock either already have an abundance of or require a property release for.  But for the application process they're just looking to evaluate the quality of my photos.  Sheesh, I wish I had figured that out the first time around.

They got back to me pretty fast though, and suggested I replace the two failed samples with fresh new ones for a second review.

If at first you don't succeed.....   ;D

« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2007, 20:19 »
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We've all been down that road Lincoln, keep at it :)

StockExpert took me three months to get in as they give you a month cooling off period between each application, but well worth it now as they have the highest return per image and sales looking promising.

iStock is also definitely worth it as is any other big 6 with the exception of Bigstock in my experience anyway.

« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2007, 21:04 »
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Yep, although some people here have success with BigStock, my own experience is that it is a complete waste of time.

« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2007, 22:26 »
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Thanks, the good thing is that I'm learning how to reuse my camera all over again.  I just need to learn to work within its limitations.  I'm currently learning about HDR techniques, which offers exactly the kind of dynamic range I've always wanted my photos to have, especially for outdoor and landscape shots.

« Reply #34 on: August 29, 2007, 01:53 »
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Lincoln, please change your camera and get a DSLR.  You could find a used Canon 350D or 400D on eBay for not much money.  You can then concentrate on creating great pictures instead of spending so much time wondering how to achieve what you want with your existing camera.


 

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