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.

Steve Heap portfolio on EyeEM stock photo agency
Bright and well organized portfolio display on EyeEM

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.

Snapshot of the captions of stock photos in Getty Images agency library
Example of captions from Getty Images

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:

Concept for New Years Eve at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020
Concept for New Years Eve and the start of 2020
Keywords on Getty Images agency site

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:

San Diego moves to Illinois

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!

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24 Responses

  1. loslos1 says:

    Thanks, Steven, useful info!

  2. loslos1 says:

    As to your question about experiences with EyeEM/Getty….
    On the bright side – this is indeed seems to be the only way to get some of your images to Getty Collections. I got around 70 so far.
    On the ‘not-so-bright’ side – their upload process is indeed a pain.
    And on the dark side – I got 6$ of sales from them in 5 months. Way to go Eye EM!

    • Steven Heap says:

      Yes, I agree. My bengal cat is selling very well on Getty now and with it being in pole position for a pretty broad search. EyeEM collections seem to sell at higher prices as well.

  3. As sales increase, I keep meaning to spend more time on uploading, but for now, they are one of those sites where I do the least amount of work and move on.

    FYI, don’t know if you have been there lately, but Society6 has fixed their horrible pricing scheme. You can now set a % profit across the entire image.

    • Steven Heap says:

      Hi Darryl – Yes, I know what you mean! It is annoying when the work you put in is thrown away though! I did see that change to Society6 – I added one more product and saw the percentage based pricing, which saves one step of their complex approach!

  4. Fabio says:

    I’m EyeEm contributor near to three years today, and I had very good sales in past months thanks to Getty giving some nice high value sales. For this reason I don’t really mind about keywords and title changes.
    What I understood is that high value sales have few or nothing to do with keywords. But, if you are looking for large numbers of low sales, keywording has high importance
    All depends about the time. You can ask eyeem change the keywords but it takes time to do this for each image so… I’m not sure if it is worth to do

    • Steven Heap says:

      Thanks Fabio – I do have a few high selling images on Getty via EyeEM and they are ones (in fact the ones at the top of my screen shot of my Getty portfolio) that have reasonable keywords. However, they are also shots that people will find with the vague keywords that the EyeEM team have included. What concerns me more is that I go to the trouble of keywording my images accurately, but those are thrown away and generic ones added. There is no way my shot of San Diego will ever sell because there are no keywords in there that refer to San Diego or California. So I’m not sure what you mean about high value sales not having anything to do with keywords? The image has to be found in the first place to sell at any price.

  5. Joaquin says:

    Yeah, the same answer for me, they prefer to rely on their artificial intelligence algorithm:

    Thanks for getting in touch. We automatically add keywords/descriptions for you once the photos are accepted to Market. The album tags that you add are not transferred to keywords.

    If you run into any other issues, or have any additional questions, please let us know. We’re happy to help!

    Kind regards,

    • Steven Heap says:

      Yes, exactly! Funny, though, the keywords you enter are the ones used in the EyeEM market and they don’t seem to modify those. They do definitely throw away the keywords for any Getty uploads to their Partner program. I was also told that my report of the bug in the upload process of putting the same caption on every image was not a bug because of exactly the same reason – they don’t use what you submit. Perhaps if we all report that bug they might do something!


  6. Michelle says:

    Hi Steve, thank you for writing this article. Do you get a lot of direct sales through EyeEm or are the bulk of the sales via Getty? Thank Michelle

  7. Mohammed says:

    I uploaded images to Eyeem for a couple of years and then removed them. I was frustrated with the long image review times, the long time for images to be accepted and seen on Getty, the problem with the keywords that dramatically change after they are accepted on both Getty and Eyeem, and the ability to download high resolution images and removing watermarks easily. I am on their group on Facebook, and I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about these issues as well. May be i will upload again if these problems get solved somehow.

    • Steven Heap says:

      They did solve one issue – they do now read the caption and keywords! Now if only they would solve the others!

  8. After much indecision, thanks to your article, I decided to register, thank you!
    I have several photos on microstock agencies but on EyeEM I thought I would only upload a photographic genre so as to create a mood, is it a good idea or better to upload everything as in other agencies?
    (sorry for my English)

    • Steven Heap says:

      I wish I had an answer. I had no idea when I uploaded my files of which ones would become popular on Getty. I have three or four that sell pretty frequently (multiple times a month), but then a lot that only sell once. There doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern!

  9. Rushay says:

    Hi Steven one of the Eyeem members shared a link with me where you could make changes to tags etc and it get’s submitted to Getty through this link. Eyeem used to be very consistent with high end sales but it seems to have come to a end. Your images also moves extremely slow from Eyeem to Getty i’m close to 1400 now on Getty but it took me very long to reach this

    • Steven Heap says:

      Thanks Rushay, for the information. Perhaps I will get more on Getty in the end. It is a good way to get into their higher priced collections.

  10. Sorry, another question.
    But do you also upload photos taken with smartphones?

  11. Adrian says:

    EyeEM are also partners with Alamy, so do you submit the same images to EyeEM and Alamy, If so are you concerned you may get duplicates on Alamy?

    • Steven Heap says:

      I’ve never seen sales from anywhere apart from Getty and a few from the EyeEM marketplace itself. I thought they also submitted them to Adobe’s premium collection, but haven’t seen anything from that either. I don’t think I am that bothered about duplication – the keywords are going to be different and perhaps EyeEM has better placement than I do on my own. I am trying to understand why I get so few sales from Alamy and yet a smaller portfolio of my earlier shots via Zoonar gets regular sales. I’ll write about it if I work out an answer!

  12. I was wondering if EyeEM and Zoonar send photos to Getty Images so there’s a risk that if you upload the same images to EyeEM and Zoonar you will find them duplicated on Getty Images?

    • Steven Heap says:

      Quite possibly (or probably!). But I also upload to iStock and so there is a chance that images get to Getty via that route as well. I’m not sure that the agency cares and it probably increases the chance of it being sold.


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