There have been some discussions about the possibilities we as photographers and stock photo contributors have when agencies make changes to our disadvantage. I often hear “well, we don’t have much choice, do we?”, sometimes hidden behind other reasoning. Well, while I still do business with a lot of agencies that I don’t like or don’t find worth supporting, here is what we all can do: Support platforms that offer a different approach. Those that pay more. The ones asking higher prices. There isn’t much we can do about more and more people trying to make money from the images nor change the fact that today almost everyone owns one kind of camera. But we can spread our wings and find out for ourselves if other places out there might offer a better deal for us.
So please have a look at this short list with six agencies, markets, platforms that offer licensing your images to customers. All of these platforms are basically open to everyone, so there is no application, no portfolio review to get approved. Also at none of them exclusivity is a requirement, though it sometimes helps to make more money. And from my personal experiences, none of them is going to replace one of the big earners anytime soon. But basically really everyone can try them. And hopefully some of them will make at least some money for you, too.
Canadian based 500px is mainly a photographer community. It started out to offer an alternative to Flickr and displayed beautiful images. When you upload images to 500px, people will like (or not) them. The market place for licensing images is an “attachment” to that community. As you will find in other places as well, this comes with some trade offs when uploading images. Among those community sites, 500px is the easiest to supply, though. At least they read out IPTC data, so there is no need to individually keyword images like on most other community sites.
Prices are rather high on 500px, up to around $250 for a high resolution image. Don’t expect standard microstock mass market images to sell at those prices. Customers are likely to look for more unique, more individual images and not just a header image for a blog post.
Alamy is the dinosaur among the market places mentioned here, and the only one earning the name “agency”. As a UK based traditional agency, they offer both Royalty Free and Rights Managed images to a rather large client base. As they also accept reportage and editorial images, they allow the widest range of photos. Then again, they are huge with more than 90 million images in their portfolio, so your images might get lost easily if they are not unique enough.
You can also submit images through the Stockimo app if you prefer. Stockimo is the mobile sourcing platform for the agency, and they tend to accept lower quality but “more real, authentic, looks like it’s live” images through that channel.
Their system is a bit more complicated than others, though. Basically there are three different categories of keywords they ask you to fill in – this reduces the possibility to use IPTC, there are always manual steps involed.
My favorite among the new, fresh, mobile platforms as they actually do sell images. Quite a lot actually. They started a partnership with Getty Images two years ago, also supply images to Alamy (see above) and just recently announced a new premium collection on Adobe Stock. Their own internal market place is still in an early stage, so sales will mostly come through the more established partner channels. Don’t expect things to be quick, between uploading, reviewing, keywording, distribution, sales and reporting you should expect wait times of at least six months to see the first few sales come in. Don’t let this stop you from uploading content, just a few each day will make you happy in the long term.
EyeEm started out as a competing platform to Instagram, though with a slightly more elitist style and less mass market compatible. They also publish their own photo magazine and have a huge annual photography award that gets a lot of attention. Be part of the community or not but accept that their site and apps are not necessarily optimized for selling images, it’s just a part of their offer.
Twenty20 was (to my knowledge) the first agency that based its business on Instagram. Contributors and their content was acquired mostly through the sharing platform, though it is a separate business. Given the small sizes, uploading to Twenty20 is also separate and today you can also upload non-mobile content through the app or a desktop computer.
I actually get regular sales despite having a rather small portfolio. One of the backsides of most mobile based agencies is their ignorance for existing IPTC data. They typically require entering description and keywords through their sites which takes up too much of my time to do it regularly on twenty different sites. But if I had unlimited time, I would upload more images to Twenty20.
It’s not on top of my list because I haven’t seen much activity on there yet but maybe some other people get different results. At least it has been in the market for some time and I have read other people talk about Foap on social media, so there must be something going on worth talking about.
Like some of the mobile market places, Foap not only offers the traditional “stock library” but also missions and competitions where clients can write their needs and ask for submissions. Those are usually hard to win and not a lot of money can be earned from these. But who knows, maybe you will get inspired or maybe you will actually win one of them. Or just leave them out like I do.
I just decided to put Markedshot on this list because I saw an ad for their platform this week and that was the first time I heard about them. I have no idea if they sell and how much, if they are trustworthy or not.
But I wanted to make a point: If you open your eyes, you will find new places and options on a regular basis. Most of them will probably be a waste of time but you will never find out which of those places will work for you or not unless you try them.
All of the platforms mentioned with the exception of Alamy are rather new contenders in the market. None of them is guaranteed to live on forever. There is always some potential that effort and some money are lost if an agency goes out of business. So there might be some risk involved in supplying images to these. But then again, there always is risk involved with any business.
So check for yourself which of the places you think make enough money for your to warrant a little risk of wasting your time. Wasted time is just a different aspect of experience and learning.
Add your own
As said at Markedshot, new places are everywhere and there is a good chance I have missed a lot of them. So if you know another place that would fit the description “new, different photo sales platform”, please add them in the comments section.