EyeEM – issues to avoid when uploading
EyeEM is an interesting site for photographers with some real negatives, but some positive signs on the earnings. I have been with them since early 2018 and I think I saw my first earnings in April of that year. In 2018 I earned $407 and 2019 so far has been $767 for the month through June. So it has become a steady middle of the road earner – certainly beating many established sites with a much larger portfolio. So that is the positive!
The agency design is very upmarket – bright large images are displayed and it is actually a pretty nice way of showing off your portfolio. Some people are worried that a thief can download a pretty large un-watermarked image from the site, but I take the view that firstly, people can always find my images with no watermarks on the websites of people who have licensed them properly and can download them from there, and if they are stealing them, they would be unlikely to have paid in the first place. So no money lost.
On the negative side, their upload system is heavily manual. It used to be that no information was read from the files, but recently they have started reading the keywords and caption from the files and automatically filling that. However, there is no FTP and so you need to drag files into their upload screen and work on them manually in that screen to then submit them. Stock Submitter is no help here! Recently I have been digging into the exact mechanics of this and have found a few things that you should watch out for.
First – if you select multiple images and try to add new suggested keywords that would take any file over 40 keywords, then the submission process seems to choke and it isn’t that clear what will be submitted. So don’t do any keyword additions to all files at once.
Second – the location of the image (if it is a travel image) is very important for a reason I will come onto. However, when you type in a location, if your place does not match one in their travel list (which I think they get from Google), you cannot enter anything. I found that Corfu and Santorini, two pretty popular Greek islands, do not come up as options. Although Corfu, USA does – wherever that is! The workaround for this is to add the GPS coordinates in Lightroom (or maybe they are already there) because the upload system reads these and comes up with a location. So my Corfu shot is now placed as Liston, Greece – which is the detailed place in Corfu Old Town where I selected my coordinates. So if you want to be sure to be able to put a location, it is probably best to add GPS to the file unless it is a pretty common spot.
Then I found a real downside (which I have reported as a bug). If you upload 10 images at once because they are all of the same general location or subject, all the images will have their own keywords and captions. If you then submit all images to the marketplace, the caption of each image will be replaced by the caption of the first image uploaded. So you need to be very careful about uploading dissimilar images. You can edit the caption once the file is in the agency, but that is quite a bit of extra manual work, so, for now, beware of it.
OK – what happens next? The EyeEM team check each image and decide first if it should be in their market, whether it needs model or property releases and, finally, whether it is good enough for the Partner program, that appears to mainly involve Getty Images. Perhaps it goes to other agencies, but I haven’t seen sales from anywhere else so far.
Model releases are requested for the tiniest bits of a human. You can click on the three dots in the model release area and delete the need for a release, but I usually find that they simply reject that change and ask for a release again even though the person is not recognizable. At that stage I give up and it becomes editorial. As far as I know, editorial shots don’t go to the partners, so the chance of them selling is not very high.
Property releases are similar – any shot which focuses on one main building is likely to get a request for a release. You can remove the request, and I sometimes get away with that – they accept the shot with no releases if it is clear that it is a public building which doesn’t require a release – US Federal buildings for instance. So that is worth trying.
Now to the big issue I found. I can find my shots on Getty Images. They are here if you are interested. There are currently 397 of them, even though I have 783 in the Partner Program. There is undoubtedly a delay in sending them across, but some of my older shots are not in Getty. So Getty must be choosing which ones to accept – which is fine. What is worrying is that the keywords are nothing like the ones I took the trouble to add. All the titles are changed to something very generic and similarly the keywords are all pretty generic as well. My carefully annotated travel shots are normally reduced to “River And Modern Buildings In City Against Cloudy Sky” when my title was “Panorama of Manhattan in New York City”. My Kauai shots sometimes include the keyword Kauai, but all the location data – such as Ke’e Beach, or Na Pali coastline are gone.
To be honest, the titles of the “studio shots” are OK, but even there, I was surprised to see my concept image of the new year for 2019/2020:
You have certainly got to think that the chances of this image being seen by someone searching for a 2020 new year image is zero. No mention of New Year, 2020, calendar – nothing.
I’ve asked about this, and was simply told that they change the keywords (for me) before they are uploaded to Getty as though that was an advantage I had been asking for! I found one of my shots of San Diego described and keyworded like this:
So no mention of San Diego – in fact it is now Chicago, Illinois and the location, picked up from the GPS, I expect, is shown as Coronado Island which is where I was standing when I took it. When I search my portfolio on Getty for San Diego, I get zero results. It is there under Coronado though!
So what can I advise? Well, I have raised these issues with them, but I’m not expecting anything to change, especially for already submitted images. I would say that putting in GPS coordinates for the center of the place you want to identify probably works best, but try to enter the city into their upload page first to see if it is recognized first. I’m not sure how many people type Liston for an image of the fortress in Corfu, for example! Uploading images with a person, even if unrecognizable, is probably not worthwhile, and buildings can be a crap-shoot. But I do see some nice earnings and some of my images – the isolated cat, for instance, sells very well on Getty via EyeEM (in fact it is in first position for a search for Isolated Cat) whereas it got nowhere with iStock. I get higher priced sales for it as well.
I’d welcome any other experiences you have had with EyeEM and Getty – perhaps there is an answer to these problems that I am missing!