iStock implosion

I post my images on several stock sites, beside my own Symbiostock sites.  Istock is one of the sites, and it looks like there could be major problems.

Istock used to be the big site in micro stock, but it is now owned by Getty and it seems ( according to the forum posts) to be losing traction every day.  I don’t know, since I have not been in this long enough to have a valid opinion.

What I do know is, iStock was my number 2 selling site.  Was is the important word here, since I have no idea how I am doing with it now.

I get most of my sales from the PP ( partner program) where my images are sold on sister sites.  For various unexplained reasons, iStock has not been able to process the May or June stats… and it is now approaching the middle of July.

The unexplained reasons, and the way iStock deals with their suppliers is, to me, a sign to be very wary.  In the internet age, and with internet companies communication is key.

This is another reason I am devoting my time and effort into my Symbiostock sites ( Travel Images, People Images)…it is so easy to ask myself what is going on.. though I don’t always have the answer.

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.  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

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.