Your stock photo questions answered…

Taking a break from some of my other work (and I did finish all my uploads of Portugal yesterday!) and so I decided to look at some of the questions I received but haven’t answered yet. The first one was via the contact page on my site and was:

Thank you very much for your website, which is very useful. I wanted to ask you two questions. Bigstock belongs to Shutterstock ?. In the list of StockSubmitter agencies are separated. I am a contributor of Shutterstock so I suppose it makes no effect to be contributor with the same images with Bigstock. The same case occurs with istock and 500px, which belong to getty images.

On the other hand, I wanted to know in which color space you send your photos to Alamy, Adobe RGB or sRGB?. In the case of sending them in Adobe RGB through stock submitter, they should be sent apart from the other agencies that only support sRGB.

Which agencies do I use Stock Submitter for
Stock Submitter agencies

As you can see from the above, I use Stock Submitter for almost all the agencies I currently support. The only ones outside this list are the Print on Demand sites such as Fine Art America or Society 6 and the occasional uploads to EyeEM (although I am annoyed with that site and so have stopped uploading!) I use Microstock Plus (the cloud version of Stock Submitter) to actually do the final upload to the agencies themselves – ie I upload once to the cloud site and then they are distributed from there. All the sites down to Alamy are supported by Microstock Plus. I upload occasional images to Creative Market – I have been blocked for uploading too many images at once and so I just choose a few selected ones for that site. But the question was – why BigStock (and 500px)? I have found that BigStock accept different things than Shutterstock – not all the time, but if SS decides that something is a “similar” it is normal for BS to accept it. Also, they seem to have their own customer base and so although I don’t earn a lot on BS, it is still money that I wouldn’t have got. So I continue to upload to them and will do so until they are finally closed down or absorbed fully into Shutterstock.

The color space question is interesting. Alamy have always accepted (and initially preferred) Adobe RGB as the color space. This is a wider color space than sRGB and preferred by designers who are going to be further processing the stock image for a publication to perhaps match the overall color scheme in a printed brochure. However, I think the buyers who seek out Adobe RGB are probably few and far between and because all online uses are normally sRGB I have given up exporting two different versions of my images – one for the main agencies, one for Alamy. I think I probably stopped doing it maybe 5 years ago when I think about it. It is possible I have lost a sale there, but I doubt it!

Hi Steve , Firstly i’d like to thank you for your Blog. It has been extremly useful since I got into Stock photography 2 years ago. What would suggest as the best file size for a picture ?

My export settings from Lightroom for stock photos
Lightroom Export Settings for Stock photos to Microstock agencies

For a long time I used to export at 4500 pixels on the longest size, but as you can see from the above, it is now 5500. Why the change – I thought that some buyers might mistake size for quality. I know that doesn’t actually make any sense, but I do wonder just how much many users of stock photos actually know. I submitted images to Snapwire for a food shoot and the instructions were to submit the images in a 16:9 format and no more than 1Mbyte in size. 1 Mbyte? What does that mean? Nothing very much in terms of the actual size of the image they want to receive. It is a bit like buyers who say – we need the images sized to 300dpi – again pretty meaningless information unless they specify the physical measurement or the pixel count. So I decided that some people might buy my image because it was bigger than an alternative!

My question is – are we shooting ourselves in the foot by uploading the same photos to multiple agencies? I started out only on SS, but after reading your blog throughout 2018, I bit the bullet and uploaded to a bunch of agencies – other than SS, I upload to Adobe, iStock, Dreamstime, 123RF, Bigstock, Alamy and Deposit. I have pretty good success with this and I’ve increased my stock monthly income immensely by doing this – thank you! Though, I can’t help but question myself when the following happens: I’ll get a sale or two on, say, SS of a random travel location. Let’s call it a specific waterfall that isn’t exactly well-known. I’ll then look into my, say, Dreamstime account and low and behold, that same RANDOM waterfall picture was downloaded there, too, on or near the same day (usually it’s the same day). And then sometimes, I’ll look at a third agency (let’s say Adobe) and that same waterfall was downloaded there, too, the same day. Usually all for standard subscription price (but not always – sometimes it’s an on-demand price). I’ll google this waterfall to see if it made the news. Because, hey, that makes sense. But nope. Didn’t make the news. Any insight on what’s going on here? This can’t be a coincidence. Sometimes this happens a few times a month. I do seem to believe that some buyers do subscribe to several agencies, but it’s weird that they would download the same damn picture from two different agencies.

This is intriguing. I’ve sometimes posted an image here in a blog and then I see that it has sold. No reason for that to happen, but it sometimes seems to be more than random! So I’ll post a waterfall image here and see what happens!

Niagara Falls from the Canadian side as one of the tourist boats approaches the spray
Hornblower cruise boat takes tourists to Horseshoe waterfall on Canadian side of Niagara Falls

But seriously, I don’t know if many people actually search between agencies. I suspect that most buyers have an account with an agency and they tend to use that agency unless they cannot find a specific image that they need (which must be rare!) and then they go elsewhere. So if you have a really, really unique image, then it makes sense to put it in an expensive place – Alamy perhaps. I have some pictures from Equatorial Guinea from places that are difficult to get to and so I only put those on Alamy. They don’t appear on any other site and I do get sales at higher values from time to time. Not too often unfortunately because the country is rarely visited and so isn’t written about very much!

Senate building in Oyala in Equatorial Guinea
Architect drawing of new senate or government building in new capital city which is being built in Oyala, Equatorial Guinea, Africa

I’m not sure if the Chinese ever built this massive government building modeled on the US Senate!

So, I’m not sure that I can answer your question. I don’t think we will ever know enough to be able to choose which agencies to submit specific images to specific sites because they would sell best there and so all we can do is support the sites that give us enough income to make it worthwhile. I can’t really see another solution unless you can find those really unique images that people will search out to buy!

Thanks again for all your questions – please continue to submit them as you think of them!

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7 Responses

  1. Ray Fernandez says:

    Hiya Steve .-
    I know you dealing with both photography and Videos …and you mentioned that you use Ligthroom as your main program for photos – viewing and sorting ect – my question is how do you treat video ?? I mean do also use LR for viewing video ??? but then how do selected the videos and transfer to Premiere for further editing ??? you selected in LR and then recompressed by exporting to Premiere ?? you see I am little bit confused with this part of your process …because I used to download my mem card to a Hard drive …both photos and videos and then view them using LR – both photos and video , but the problem was that I had to edit the videos in Premiere and LR all it can do is another huge copy of the original video once it was selected in LR..how do you select and transfer the videos for further editing to Premiere ???.
    I guess another way could be to divide the download of the mem card in two folders photos in one for LR and Videos in another for Premiere Media Browser …not doing that at the moment .
    I hope this makes some sense to you Steve….in any case thanks for your time and information in your site which I am finding , as a newbie , very useful indeed …….cheeeerrrrsss….

    • Steven Heap says:

      I responded in this new post. Hope this helps.

      • Ray Fernandez says:

        Hiya Steve :
        Thank you very much ..!!! for such detailed explanation …!!! awesome…!!! .
        Such a shame that Lightroom can not handle 4K video in the export module..!!! .
        My workflow differs substantially from yours , and am always trying to improve it .
        So , again , one big thanks for sharing .
        Cheerrrrssss….!!!
        RF.

  2. AlessandraRC says:

    “Though, I can’t help but question myself when the following happens: I’ll get a sale or two on, say, SS of a random travel location. Let’s call it a specific waterfall that isn’t exactly well-known. I’ll then look into my, say, Dreamstime account and low and behold, that same RANDOM waterfall picture was downloaded there, too, on or near the same day (usually it’s the same day). And then sometimes, I’ll look at a third agency (let’s say Adobe) and that same waterfall was downloaded there, too, the same day. Usually all for standard subscription price (but not always – sometimes it’s an on-demand price). I’ll google this waterfall to see if it made the news. Because, hey, that makes sense. But nope. Didn’t make the news. Any insight on what’s going on here? This can’t be a coincidence. ”

    This happens to me somewhat often.

    • Steven Heap says:

      Yes, I really don’t know what is going on there. Logically there must be some very low level news interest in the place, perhaps too small be be picked up in a search?

  3. Amlan Mathur says:

    Hi steve, love your blog. One question, your image shows that you you are using stock submitter to submit to istock? Has this functionality returned? I thought getty stopped accepting uploads through stock submitter

    • Steven Heap says:

      Hi Amlan
      Tricky question, it works if you know the API keys for iStock. Of course those aren’t published, but I have heard that it might be possible to get them via the Telegram group supporting the application.
      Steve

I'm always interested in what you think - please let me know!