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Author Topic: Is it just me?  (Read 10725 times)

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« on: August 02, 2006, 04:42 »
Or is iStock really starting to suck big time? Lowest commission of all sites, big corporate sell-outs, massively censored forums, FREE use of OUR images on blogs with no benefit to the photographer, ridiculous favoritizing of exclusive photogs, the louziest affiliation program of all. It used to be my best selling site providing a serious payout every single month, but now I'm considering dropping it entirely! It's still a good money maker, but with Dreamstime and Fotolia catching on fire, I might not need those couple hundred dollars each month from the big ugly monster.


« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2006, 06:56 »
No its not just you! Really sad that microstock started with the by far worst model of all! But the gap between istock and the others is getting smaller my biggest hope for the future are stockxpert,dreamstime and fotolia. If one company dominates a market thats always the worst thing that can happen.

« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2006, 06:59 »
iStocks best marketing ploy is their exclusives and their quality.  They have some good photographers there submitting full time.

For this reason, iStock will always be popular with designers.

« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2006, 10:48 »
well i think their exclusive agreements is their pot of gold.  I have heard of  a few people dropping the exclusivity.. and perhaps more will over time.

but as other sites get more and better photographers designers will also go elsewhere.

I am afraid i agree.  istock is loosing their lead in many ways, such as comissions, company / photographer reltaions, ease of use.. and so on and so on.  I wouldn't be surprised if in a year there was a new strong leader.  I would have to say that Istock still leads the pack...... unfortunatly.

« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2006, 14:34 »
I'm so glad I found you guys  8)

I obviously wish that every site got millions of sales (well... every site I'm on), just between the choices I obviously support the ones that treat us (the photogs, illustrators) with A) respect and B) reward us financially. Obviously there are sites that do that: I don't want to push my favourites here but Dreamstime comes to mind first. They pay well (with their credit discounts I recon we get something like 60-70% of the revenue), their rejections are usually informative (not always, but better than "we don't need that image" or Fotolia's famous rejection that covers "purple fringing OR not in focus OR too dark/bright OR bad composition OR too many in db").

Besides the obvious fact that iStock pays the louziest and makes a killing off of us, what I hate MOST is their arsehole attitude of "we are boss: it is thanks to us that you make money". I've actually had a "conversation" by mail with one of the admins that basically suggested that we should be happy that they're allowing us to submit photos there. I don't want to rant, but who . do these guys think they are? WE are the ones who pay their wages. WE are the ones that made that  50 million dollars sale to Getty possible. Without photographers and illustrators there is an empty space filled with their staff's work. And I've seen Bitter's portfolio: it's banal utmost shite, possibly with the exception of pictures in which Transferred is modeling (she's a juicy minx, isn't she?).

Okay, anyways, iStock rant off my chest. First and last.


« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2006, 14:54 »

Defintiely not just you, I stopped uploading there a few months back. I refuse to sell a photo for 20 cents anymore. Also, the most cumbersome upload process makes it just not worth the time.

« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2006, 16:43 »
   it would be interesting to have an istock exclusive photog. in this forum, but i suppose they stay in the bubble on the istock forums.


« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2006, 20:59 »
I am an iStock exclusive artist and have wandered outside the bubble...I have openly challenged certain policy changes or new features of iStock from time to time and wholeheartedly agreed with others. I have to say some things in this thread, to me, certainly fall under the category of "defamatory, hateful and/or vulgar" that this very site admonishes against in it's terms of use that I just had to agree to to be able to post here. Specifically calling Bruce's portfolio "shite" (that's classy,) and rude comments about Brianna.

All that aside, I'm not here to start any trouble and I do think it's interesting to read uncensored opinions outside of iStock's forums. Also the last post in this thread says it would be interesting to hear from and iStock Exclusive, so here are my opinions on the matters in this thread.

1) Low Commisions: As an exclusive at the silver level I earn .30, 1.50 and 3.00 per download. My average commission per sale is $1.73. Currently my royalties from iStock pay about 65% of my monthly expenses.  I have been building my portfolio there since Feb. 2004 and a member (buyer) since Jan. 2003. It is still the only place I buy from as a designer, mostly out of habit. Another reason I am comfortable with my percentage is the amount of advertising money iStock spends, which clearly shows it's value in the amount of traffic and sales produced.

2) The "We're the boss attitude" Well....they are. But I wanted to share this link to Bitters response to community disapproval over the VOX fiasco and to quote this line specifically: "We had some hard time around the table with this, but in the end it came down to asking ourself one question: Are we the kind of company that's going to make up it's mind and bull ahead, regardless of what people think? Or are we the kind of company that's serious about listening to the people who got us where we are? When we put it to ourselves that way, the answer was pretty clear."..."
We believe in this Vox deal ...But if the majority of members don't believe this is good for us all, well, that's all there is to it - we'll turn it off. Simple as that. Our community is the reason for our success, and we will not act against your wishes."

Here is a link to that whole thread:

3) Why be exclusive? I wanted to share my MAIN reason I elected to go for exclusivity with iStock, and that's legal protection. Having had my images stolen on more than one occasion, it is MUCH easier to prove where the image was acquired form and therefore I automatically have the iStock legal department backing me and enforcing their License agreement, and they have proved themselves to me on several occasions in this department with flying colors. If I have my images at two or three sites, let alone ten, when misuse comes up I'm up the creek as far as getting any one of my multiple suppliers to back me up. After all, legal teams are expensive and why should they spend their time/money defending me and my image when there is only a one in 10 shot that the person misusing it actually acquired it from their site?

Of course there is convenience too and to be honest I'd rather spend my time producing images than uploading, keywording, describing & categorising for multiple sites.

But I completely understand why it just works better for others to be able to operate on several venues, and I've never said it doesn't have merit in some situations.

It's a personal choice, and to be honest it's not always easy. What really irritates me personally is when people suggest that all iStock exclusives are stuck in a bubble or that we're brainwashed and all "admin favorites". If that were true there would be a whole lot of "favorites" since there is a high perctnage of exclusivity within the 23,000+ contributer base.

We don't go out of our way to bash people who submit to several sites, so I don't understand why there are so many negative feelings toward exclusive contributers on independent forums like this one.

At the end of the day, we gave up some freedoms and signed a contract that restricts us to iStock. In return we were promised some privileges and they deliver consistently. It just makes good business sense, and if it wasn't working it wouldn't be causing such controversy. ;)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2006, 21:02 by amanda1863 »

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2006, 23:00 »
Amanda, thanks for taking the time to respond so respectfully to this forum.  It shows class, and I for one appreciated it.  However, I suspect that some of the anger here comes from a few problems we run into with Istock:

1.  They are very slow with the reviewing process.  On the one hand, we appreciate a thorough, thoughtful review of our images.  On the other hand, it's frustrating to wait up to two weeks or more to get a rejection for what appears to be a frivolous reason.  Not that other sites don't do this (just read the forums, and you'll see which sites are most frustrating in this regard), but the field leader should be more efficient, in my opinion.  I had a file under review for well over a month; I wrote a polite request to have that file reviewed, only to be ignored.  I eventually pulled the file from consideration.

2.  The upload restrictions can be quite onerous.  I noticed that, to reduce the queue backlong, Istock imposed a 30% reduction in upload limits on non-exclusive photographers, but didn't touch those limits for exclusives.  That kind of behavior smacks of bullying, especially when you consider that upload limits per week were decreased back in June.  People like Phil shouldn't have to put up with this kind of attitude, particularly since he outsells most exclusives and has one hell of a portfolio.

3.  The base commission is the lowest in the industry.  I don't care if I sell more images on Istock than elsewhere (I do); I still deserve to be paid reasonable rates.  I know of no other industry with such low commissions; the industry leader should not be setting such a poor example.

I'm glad the arrangement works so well for your situation.  I suspect that it works well because you create vectors (very nice ones, in fact) and vectors sell well.  However, exclusivity doesn't make sense for me because my portfolio at the moment isn't very well oriented to microstock and I need the sales across multiple sites so I can buy more equipment.  I may yet go exclusive with an agency, but it won't be for an agency that provides such a small commission.  I also don't want to tie myself permanently to microstock, as I have hopes of mid-level stock and some fine-art sales.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2006, 23:08 by Professorgb »


« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2006, 23:24 »
Absolutley, in interest of full disclosure I should have mentioned I do vectors, because to be totally honest, I'm a dunce with a camera! :D  What the lense cap has to be off?! lol But just the same I am a microstocker and an exclusive iStocker. :)  (Not brainwashed BTW, lol, I saw that in another forum about "people who post at IS fourms?!)

I have several local photog (and one other vector artist) friends that contribute to multiple sites and do very well!  Sometimes it just workes better.  I also realize that if I weren't exclusive I would most likely be much more frustrated by inspection times and higher comissions.  As it is I like to dream big and I see that 40% level as jsut a matter of time and hard work, so I can hold out for a while.  Plus with bulk discounts for credit it actually works out to be more than 40% for the top level much like other sites.

Don't get me wrong, I ocassionaly get curious about the grass on the other side of the fence (every couple of months or so,) and I do some research at the other sites' forums and independent ones like this, but to be honest I usually reconfirm that I want to stay exclusive for now, and seeing a whole bunch of threads with really snide comments about exclusive members irritates me!  Even if someone is frustrated with the  system at iStock, doesn't mean the blame should fall on those that chose to be exclusive.  It's a business decision and a personal choice, certainly not meant to annoy or harm other photogs/artists!

As one more thing to consider when frustrated by the exclusive benefits, this might make you feel vindicated to some extent...remember that when one of our images gets rejected, we have absolutley no RF outlet for it!  I know rejections are frustrating for everyone (and IS certainly has a rep for the most stringent standards) but it's definitley a bit heartrending to see one of your babies shut out of your portfolio (and all other RF sites) forever! 

I really do respect others opinions and there are valid ones here (like professorgb's), I just think name calling and bashing people's portfolios is a bit out of line.

I am hoping to learn a few things from this forum, (if I don't get kicked out!) since the micostock industry is so relativley new there is a lot of gorund to cover!

« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2006, 00:18 »
Welcome here amanda, like I said before, it is nice to have an istock exclusive here and hear some other thoughts and opinions.  I can see the point in being exclusive as far as having someone to back you up with legal problems with a picture, and the luxury of only having to upload to one site, however for me, numberous sales venues and having my eggs in more than one basket seems to far outweigh the advantages (for now). 

In regards to stealing pictures though, there is really no way to tell if someone used a stolen picture or not unless you sell your images Rights Managed (where the use, buyer and length of use are reported).  So I don't see any advantage to being exclusive in this regards.  If the images are mis-used on the other hand.... it could be helpful to have some backing.


« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2006, 00:38 »
You're right about image stealing, there will always be those out there who remove watermarks unfortunatley! :(

In my case though, each of the three times iStock had to step in it was clear misuse involving merchandising of images on clothing, reselling images as "custom" and template sales, none of which are allowed by the iStock licesnse agreement and all of which were bad for business as they are all things I do seperatly on the side.

Luckily I could prove where the images were aquired and didn't have to put any more effort in than a quick email to support to have them taken care of.  That was when I decided to go exclusive.  I do think that may be something that is more prominent with vectors too though, at least the reselling as custom work.  >:(

Thanks for the welcome!

« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2006, 18:45 »
Hi amanda!

It's very nice to read some thoughts from exclusive contributors. 

I must say that I get annoyed by some approvals from exclusive photographers I see at IS.  Of course it's comprehensible that inspectors are more tolerant with exclusives exactly because they are commited with the site, but then I see some images with flaws that are so easy to correct, whilst we get rejections for the most incomprehensible reasons (sometimes with the nasty "no resubmit" status)!  I mean, I can understand that they approve an exclusive's shot that they have already tons of similar ones in the site, but when we see a obvious unintentional tilted horizon or a slighty purplish image... Well, will asking the photographer to adjust that compromise their relationship?  I think not.



« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2006, 21:35 »
I respectfully disagree and could post several very nitpicky rejections (yes from whule I was exclusive) to prove the contrary.  I also think that the sheer volume of exclusive contributors that complain on the iStcok forums about all the files they don't have outlet for would point to a healthy amount of rejections for exclusives.

I can honestly say I have never been happy getting a rejection, I've very sedlom agreed with the reasoning (my most common rejection is "not stock") but going back a few weeks later I usually see how much it could have been improved and learn from that.  It is well documented how much contributers improve and learn over time due to rejections and strict standards.

I unfortunatley wasted a good portion of my day reading the entire iStock forum here at microstockgroups and got really irritated at the all the flaming. I also saw a lot of misinformation.  It's a bit sad and I don't think I'll be back. If you all really wanted a forum that is an unbiased discussion between all facets and different contributors to the microstock industry, there would need to be a lot fewer sensless insults to the exclusive iStock contributers.

I don't honestly believe form my observations and reading that this communtiy is open to all opinions.


« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2006, 00:27 »
Well, not insulting any exclusives, just giving my own personal experience. Of the 7 agencies I submit to, Istock has by FAR the most inconsistent reviews of all. I stopped submitting to them a couple months back because of that, not to mention the worst upload process, and the lowest commissions, I believe they won't be on top for long. Obviously, exclusives disagree and I don't have any problem with that.

« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2006, 01:38 »

I don't honestly believe form my observations and reading that this communtiy is open to all opinions.

This community is open to all opinions in the respect that no opinions are censored, and posts aren't censored if they talk negativly about a site (unlike the forums on the individual microstock sites themselves).

If you feel the members here are misinformed about istock in particular, perhaps it is because no one is argueing to the contrary (until now).


« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2006, 01:43 »
Sorry I should have been more specific, most people here seem sort of ...maybe kind of.... sometimes neutral ..... but for example the person who started this thread has repeatedly posted things I find personally insulting. Totally offensive. And no one here seems to disagree or call him on it. I also find it funny how he is happy to bash away doesn't provide a link to his portfolio? There is always a small possibility when someone doesn't do well at somehting that it just might have something to do with their own actions/talent :o But I know how easy it is to blame it on someone else.

It's just a shame I would love to have an unbiased forum where I could hear whats going on with the industry in general and learn about the other sites out there without flaming around every corner and seeing people I consider friends and peers being called every name in the book not to metnion the singling out of actual people (business owner, genius, villian...whatever you want to call Bruce Livingstone, he is still human last time I checked,) and ripping their portfolios, not to mention making vulgar sexist comments about one of iStock's most talented models AND photogs AND admins!

My point is there are much more civil ways to discuss both up sides and downsides to different microstock sites. So far I haven't read a genuinley poitive post about iStock anywhere on this forum without major bitching. I take that back ...Fintastique (sp?) Have a really nifty comparison chart that I read with interest and actually learned something from.

Leaf & Professorgb also seem to be very civil, intelligent and in the spirit of sharing information not flames. It would be nice to see more of that and less of Kacper's flaming. Then it might actually be a more enjoyable read that might gain readership faster and be even more helpful, as it is one of the most complete sites I've come across as a general microstock resource and has bigger potential than turning into a bitch session.

Just wanted to add that you posted while I was typing Leaf and I do think lack of cencorship is important as long as it follows the terms of use that we agree to when joing and I think there are clear exapmles of being over the line by the OP in this particular thread. Also there might be a wider variety of iStock posters here or people 9that do well there) willing to provide the positives and tips and things, but it won't happen in this environment. Isn't singling out a particualr person's portfolio and labeling it "shite" over the line?

Censorship sucks but smut's not cool either.

« Last Edit: August 22, 2006, 12:11 by amanda1863 »


« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2006, 02:28 »
The Problem with istock is their attitude and their not fair and in my opinion arrogant treatment of their contributors.
They prooved that they are great businessmen and i respect them for that i'm pretty sure they don't believe the community-hype theirselves but its a part of their great marketing.
In general its never good for an industry that there is one company that rules the market, so i would really like to see istock comes down to the same level as the others which would be the best for all contributors and i'm sure istock would become much more friendlier ;).
The trend is against istock more and more agencies comes around the corner which understand about marketing as well (not loosers like canstock nice people but bad businessmen) and offers fairer treatment to their contributors.
Also new "big boys" like dashek, kurhan and logos (yuri) seems to have no interest at all to become an exclusive. Istock is protecting their old stars with their upload limits but missing the new stars which already have over thousand of pictures at the other sites and only a few hundred at IS.
I think 2007 will be the big turning point for the whole industry and especially for IS.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2006, 02:32 by grp_photo »

« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2006, 02:51 »
So .... do we vote for "censorship" or "smut"??? (Just kidding ;D )

Hi amanda1863, welcome to Microstock Group.

Just like what Leaf said, maybe this is the first time that someone has passionately expressed her sentiments about IStock. If you feel that people here are misinformed about Istock, why not stay a while so you could share first hand opinion being an exclusive of IStock. I think this will be beneficial for everyone since we could all hear the two sides of the story. Maybe in the end you'll see that not everybody here is vindictive of IStock as you initially thought.


« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2006, 06:29 »
In response to Amanda

Yes I do agree that singling out ones portfolio and calling it 'shite' is over the line.  I do think however think that a person has the right to not like another's portfolio and express that opinion.  However, how they say it, does not have to be crude.  So Kacper, please watch how you use your language.  However the insult of one portfolio, doesn't warrent the insult of another  (amanda)

however, i don't feel the rest of Kacper's original post was over the line.  If he feels that Istock is being pompus he has the right to say so... it is the job of other people to disagree.


« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2006, 12:17 »
In the spirit of Leaf's post I have toned down my post above, because he's right, me bashing Kacper doesn't prove anything excpet bringing me down to the same level.

I have also decided to stick around and try to provide some valuable iStock information where I can so that people can make informed decsiions with opinions form both sides of the fence on this apparently controversial site.

« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2006, 12:31 »
Well I am glad you are deciding to stick around... I look forward to hearing your opinion (it is always good to have some controversy)

This site is only unbiased if there is people presenting from both sides.  As it is now, or was before you came, the istock side is fairly lonely.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2006, 12:34 by leaf »

« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2006, 13:09 »

There are a few major reasons why people have the attitude that they have towards iStock.

1. Try posting a "controversial" thread on iStock and see how fast the Admins will lock the thread.  And if you are real lucky, you might even receive a warning from them.

One of the things that I find unbelievable is the amount of locked threads on that site.  Yet they continue to talk about their "community" and how much they care about their members.  Hogwash!

Peehead is a real idiot.  He curses constantly and thinks that he is the cats meow.  The only reason nobody says anything to him is because they are scared of being banished.

2. There is a definite "conceited" attitude at iStock.  This shows up on their boards, in their reviews, and how they make announcements without consulting any of the "community" that they purport to love so much.

The Vox announcement is just the latest in a string of ideas that blew up in their face.  And it shows that they have no regard towards their contributers.  They just want to pad their already overflowing pockets.

3. There is no real way to challenge rejections.  I know, I know.  Scout.  But what percentage of photos are actually overturned.  From what I have read, a very small percentage.

I had a rejection once that basically said it was not suitable for stock.  I opened up a ticket with Scout because I thought that the Inspector had gotten it wrong.  I told Scout that they already had a few accepted images that were similar to mine in their database and I wanted to know how they could accept those, but not mine.  I waited a few months (yes, a few months) for Scout to tell me that the images that they had accepted (about 2 or 3) were sufficient to represent the subject and they didn't need anymore.  What a bunch of BS!  2 or 3 images in a database of over 1 million is supposed to be representative of the unique subject matter that I was trying to present?  Well that image has been accepted at over a half dozen other agencies, including Shutterstock and Dreamstime, and has been selling quite well.

4. Last, but not least, IS has the lowest payscale (for purchasing single images) in the industry.  20 cents for an image is a real travesty.  When do you think they will become the market leader (that they claim to be) and raise the bar on image prices?  Or when do you think they might start to give some of those buckets of money back to the contributors that made them who they are today?

Basically, all of these things (and a lot more) all add up to the resentment that you are seeing.

And it is the reason why this site and the Yahoo Groups site were started in the first place.  To enable the open discussion of the microstock industry.

If it was within their power, I guarantee that they would shut these sites down quicker than one of your photos could be rejected...

« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2006, 13:14 »

I'm glad you decided to stick around to. kacper can be a bit blunt sometimes but he also contributes a lot of good ideas. My strategy for flaming is to ignore it, replying usually just makes it worse. And probably that is what most people around here feel, and thus no one replied to his comments. I for one don't complain to loudly about IStocks commission. Yes it is low but if the sales volume is much higher than it is worth it. It doesn't matter how much per image per sale I get but the total income per image. But I do agree that they tend to be a little arrogant and their upload process is a nightmare. If another new company copied their upload system they wouldn't get past a 100 images before they died. They have replied to e-mails stating they don't take suggestions so don't bother. I mean come on. But once again from a business point of view if they bring in enough income to make it worth it, you just deal with it. From my point of view istock isn't my highest money maker; shutterstock is. In fact Istock is less than 25% of my income from microstocks. So my desire to deal with their arrogant admins and horrible upload process is lacking. Once again Amanda welcome to the group and I hope to hear more of your thoughts.


« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2006, 13:29 »
Stockmaniac: Thanks for the post, it was well laid out and I agree with a number of your points, however, as has been mentioned previously in this thread.  People bashing isn't too popular here.  ie. your comments about peehead
« Last Edit: August 22, 2006, 13:33 by leaf »



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