Why Symbiostock?

Please, could someone tell me what is better on Symbiostock than on Photoshelter, Smugmug etc.?
There is no big difference in earnings between 100% and 85% (if we sell also on stock agencies)…
Please, tell me where is the difference between this direct selling options…?


The biggest perk, I think, is that with a Symbiostock site you own it. I mean, truly own the site and every aspect of it, right down to the styling details, the design, every intricacy about how it works, how people see your work, everything. There is literally nothing I can’t do to my site, to make it look exactly how I want it to or to function in some different way. I don’t think you can have that kind of freedom with very many systems like this. 

Also, Symbiostock is built on WordPress, which as far as I know was and probably still is the most popular content management system in use on the web. There is a huge community developing WordPress plugins all the time, for pretty much anything you can think of that you’d want to do on your site. There is almost no limit to what you can add to your site, often with just a few clicks, just by searching for a plugin or widget that does what you need. SmugMug can’t compare to what the WordPress community has to offer in terms of add-ons. 


Pin up at People Stock

I have uploaded some of my Pin Up Photographs at my People Stock site.

So far, this includes images used in my Contact Show, form a few years back, as well as Images form the Point-one Calendar.  I am now starting to load alternate images on to the site as well.  As much as I love the “chosen” image from each series, there are some other great images as well that were not used.

As I look at these images and go through the Catalog I remember how much fun it was to work with such a great team and to be able to produce these images.  It almost makes me want to get back into studio work… almost.

My Journey to Micro-stock End of June

As the July 1st long weekend develops in Canada I again take stock of my Journey into Micro-stock


June was almost my best month to date… I say almost because I don’t know for sure what I will be getting from iStock.  I sell most of my images through their PP ( partner program).  They always seem to have trouble coming up with the numbers, and June seems to be the longest they have taken.  They still have not reported for May.  In iStocks defence they did have to deal with floods at their headquarters… they are located in Calgary

Shutter Stock

Shutter Stock has become a steady earner, with steady growth.  It was my best month with them.  I have also started to up load full released model images.  So far the results are encouraging. About 20% of the images I submitted, sold within 6 days, some muliple times.


I have added another site to my Symbiostock Network. peopleimages.grsphoto.ca.  This site will be people images ( obviously) that I have model releases for.  This will include images I take now, and images that I have releases for back in Canada.

The Symbiostock network is becoming an amazing technology… I just hope that I get some sales soon.

Goals for July

I haven’t thought much about what I want to accomplish for July.  It will be a busy month for me with non-photographic projects.  The main goal is to keep my Shutter Stock and Symbiostock portfolio growing.

Anyway here is this months numbers.  One change I added to this chart is the addition of a projection of income.  I will refine this as time goes on, but it as interesting exercise.

# accept Stock editorial Jan Feb March April may June RTI projected
Shutter Stock 437 239 198 $8.50 $4.50 $14.74 $7.88 $10.01 $17.26 $62.89 0.14 14.86 $60.49
23.02% 0.0800 0.0340 0.0285 0.0395 51.67% 0.0340
iStock 154 151 3 $3.14 $6.26 $1.40 $2.52 $26.75 $1.61 $41.68 0.27 11.76 $51.83
8.11% 0.0200 0.0300 0.2450 0.0105 34.24% 0.0764
123rf 369 352 17 $0.43 $3.29 $0.44 $0.22 $0.95 $1.93 $7.27 0.02
19.44% 0.0052 5.97%
Canstock 173 173 0 $0.75 $1.75 $1.00 $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $4.50 0.03
9.11% 0.0050 0.0058 0.0000 0.0000 3.70%
Dreamstime 172 172 $0.35 $0.70 $0.00 $0.00 $2.34 $3.39 0.02
9.06% 0.0050 0.0000 0.0000 0.0136 2.78%
fotolia 23 23 0 $0.25 $0.25 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.50 0.02
1.21% 0.41%
bigstockphoto 111 92 19 $0.50 $1.00 $1.50 0.01
1898 1654 244 $13.07 $16.40 $18.28 $11.62 $38.21 $24.14 $121.73 0.06 26.62 $124.20
percentage of total income 10.74% 13.47% 15.02% 9.55% 31.39% 19.83%

My Own Site, Orphan Works and Symbiostock

Orphan Works

Orphan works are posts, words, illustration and images that can be used ( and resold) by publisher without paying the original producer/ copyright owner, because the owner can not be found.  There has been a lot of posts and scaremongering ( great post BTW) on the net about changes in the law, and I doubt it will affect most photographers, but it is worth being vigilant.

In a thread on the recent Orphan works law in the UK it was pointed out that if your images are in a searchable form on-line, like on your own website, then they should show up in any “diligent search”. I can’t think of any better reason to put my images in one site, I control.  They are not Orphans if they are on my site.

I am a strong supporter of the Symbiostock network and think it may have a great impact on how Photographers sell stock images. It also is set-up in such a way that google finds your images! It is easy to set-up and use, so if I am going to have my images on-line, I might as well be selling them there as well.

Why not just use “free” photosharing sites to store my images?

As I mention in my Digital Share Cropping Post I want to make income from my images, not just enrich the people who own the the big sites.

Are Orphan works Legislations the end of copyright?  I don’t think so.

Will having my images on my own site protect me?  I don’t know, but it can’t hurt


Questions for Leo

Semmick Photo in a blog Post


Asked Leo Blanchette  some questions… this one I liked the most.

Where do you see Symbiostock in 5 years?

Symbiostock in 5 years? A personal hope of mine is that it gains both webmasters and an audience in touch with the sciences and education. I hope to see a rather self-motivated and self-regulating community who can give quality and meaningful content to customers. I hope to bring the “symbio” model out of Stock Photography/Illustration into things like electronics, programming, natural sciences/conservation, etc. But of course the Symbio-community will be nicely scattered among most subjects. The entire idea behind Symbiostock is creating a sort of “collective intelligence” which helps everyone to benefit and profit.By way of example: Wiki-pedia and wiki-answers is well known as a knowledge base. I hope the Symbio-model becomes a dual knowledge base and profit engine for hobbyists and professionals to expand their opportunities and skills, allowing publishing and distributing of content which is useful. What better place to begin this concept than Microstock?


Digital Share Cropping and Fair Trade Images

I came across a Term I had not seen before.

Digital Share Cropping.

I found it in a post http://www.mediacrazed.com/digital-sharecropping/

From the post…”Basically what this means is that networks like Facebook give you all the tools to create all sorts of content for free while they get rich!

As Sonia Simone of Copyblogger put it, “Digital sharecropping is building your business on someone else’s land.”” (Reading her whole article is worth the time as well)

This is great…it explains my love/hate relationship with Facebook. Their focus is mainly on why you should have your own business website instead of relying on Facebook.

Micro-stock Stores

To me it also explains photographers relationships to the big Micro-stock stores, such as iStock and Shutter Stock.  I make money from these sites.  Not a lot, but enough to keep me interested and submitting.

They make a whole lot of money re-licening images from little producers like me, as well as  some big image factories.  The problem is ( from my point of view), these are corporations, so their main purpose in life is to produce income for their share holders.  They really don’t care much about the little producers… there are many of us, and few of them ( Shutter Stock has +30% ? of the market).

I have been at this for a short time, but history shows how these Micro-stock stores will change the terms and agreements without much notice, and always in their favour.  What can the small producer do about it… take it, or leave it.

Fair Trade Images

I have set up my own Micro-stock store to try and get some safety, control and hopefully stablity in the sale of my images.

I have been working with the fledgling Symbiostock network to allow the linking of my stie to other image producers ( photographer, Illustrators etc).  In one of the discussion threads of the Micro Stock Group Forum someone coined the phrase Fair Trade Images.  

Fair Trade images…. I really like this phrase and the images it invokes about what I am trying to achieve.  I want to provide a good image, and a fair price, and after expenses make a fair amount for my self.

Fair Trade Images…. time to start rebranding my site.



I opened my own stock image store

Storefront in small beach town, Ecuador

Storefront in small beach town, Ecuador








My stock image store stockImages.glennspecht.com is now open.

I have images located in several Stock Stores such as Shutter Stock and iStock. I have decided to open my own site as well.  The main reason for this is I would like to put more funds in my pocket.  The same image you download on Shutter Stock nets me much more if it is bought direct from me.

The problem is not many people know about my site, and now I have to do the part of any business I am not good at…. Marketing.

Let’s see what are the reasons for someone to go to the site.

  • Great images
  • decent layout
  • ability to purchase direct from the artist ( Me) via paypal.

There is one major disadvantage to my site. I only have about 600 images available for purchase, an extremely small amount in the world of stock. I am adding images weekly and I think they may be the best images ever produced by a photographer anywhere anytime on the planet ….( not really ). I know my images will not fill the needs of most people who want or need to buy images.

With such a small selection and such a niche market ( mostly Ecuador Travel Images) will I be pissing potential buyers off when they come to my site and they don’t find what they need?  No… because I have access to over 25,000 images to offer to any potential buyer.

I still want people to visit my site even though I know I don’t have the images they need for one reason…. My site is part of the Symbiostock Network.

The Symbiostock network is a very interesting Word Press theme that allows image searches to be conducted on the sites of many extremely talented independent photographers and illustrators.

If you are looking for a image of gemstone… I don’t have it on my site, but the search facility will pull up other options from with-in the network, in this case mostly from the niche site http://photominingstock.com/

Do I make money from the search, and the sale from another member of the network… no. The concept is that the network feeds all users, so gemstone will go somewhere else. In return a search for Ecuador will show images from my site.

As of now ( 06-06-2013) there are 25,898 images on the network… still very small in relation to the big players, but the network is growing every day.

If you are a seller of Stock images you owe it to yourself to check out Symbiostock Network. Even if it isn’t right for you, the knowledge that it exists may be needed in the future

If you are a buyer of images, even though you may not be interested in Ecuador Travel Images, you should still go to stockimages.glennspecht.com.  I likely won’t have the images you want, but I know the person who does and all you have to do is use the search to find them.


My Journey into Microstock- May 2013

May 2013 in my Journey into Microstock will be my best month so far.

What makes it stand out is the sale of one image ( I am not even sure what image it is) for around $24 at a partner site of iStock. Without the sale of this one image the month would have shown small but steady growth.  According to the MSG forums Feb is the biggest month and then things slow down as the Northern hemisphere heads into summer, so if I can keep my income steady or slowly expand then that is a good sign.

My total sales from all sites since January is $94.96.  So I am not getting rich, yet.

For May I beat my goal of 300 images for shutter stock…As of May 25th ( when I am writing this) I have 330 images at Shutter Stock, with 20 in the que.

My personal site is looking good.  The software developer is building some interesting ideas into the wordpress theme.  I think ( hope) that the Symbiostock network takes off when it is released.

My goals for June

  • Shutterstock  I would like to add another 75 images to make it to 400
  • iStock no real numbers but this is my number 2 site so I need to attend to it
  • stockimages.glennspecht.com  Hopefully the theme will come out of beta and we can start promoting the network…. and getting some sales.
  • Other sites  I have been neglecting them, and I should post some images.  I will try and work on FT to see if I can get my numbers up there.

The Chart for May

# accept Stock editorial Jan Feb March April may RTI
Shutter Stock 330 152 178 $8.50 $4.50 $14.74 $7.88 $8.26 $43.88 0.13
19.29% 0.0800 0.0340 0.0250 46.21%
iStock 84 81 3 $3.14 $6.26 $1.40 $2.52 $26.75 $40.07 0.48
4.91% 0.0200 0.0300 0.3302 42.20%
fotolia 23 23 0 $0.25 $0.25 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.50 0.02
1.34% 0.53%
Canstock 173 173 0 $0.75 $1.75 $1.00 $1.00 $0.00 $4.50 0.03
10.11% 0.0050 0.0058 0.0000 4.74%
Dreamstime 162 162 $0.35 $0.70 $0.00 $0.00 $1.05 0.01
9.47% 0.0050 0.0000 0.0000 1.11%
123rf 369 352 17 $0.43 $3.29 $0.44 $0.22 $0.58 $4.96 0.01
21.57% 5.23%
bigstockphoto 111 92 19 $0.00 0.00
Veer 34 34 0 0.00
photodune 204 204 0 0.00
Pond5 22 22 0
GraphicLeftover 87 87 0
Deposit Photos 112 105 7
Alamy 0
1711 1487 224 $13.07 $16.40 $18.28 $11.62 $35.59 $94.96 0.06
percentage of total income 13.77% 17.27% 19.25% 12.24% 37.48%

Before Photoshop ( and colour)

Here is an interesting article about how pictures were retouched before photoshop…. in 1946

It is so much easier today with using a computer a screen and a mouse.  and it is quicker.

I remember sitting at a table spotting my prints.  At rental labs ( such as Imageworks) some of the conversation between photographers around the table became a high light of the day.

An interesting idea on where commerical photography is going

I read a great blog on the commercial side of photography.

In it the other says that in the new digital world we live in, the value of an individual image is greatly reduced, but the process or flow of images is where the value of photography is, and is going.

I need to think about this some more and try and integrate the ideas into my stock business plans…..



A comment I left on the site:

I had a chance to digest this information ( it is amazing how much thinking you can do on a bus ride)

Let me see if I have your idea right. The true value of an image is its ability to do its “job” ( job being: call to action, attract attention, create an emotional response) .

You mention we, as creators, need to learn how to judge and value an image or flow of images based on this.

How can we do this? What are the criteria, besides personal experience, that will allow use to say $X for this one $Y for this one?