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Frequently Asked Questions about photos

How much money can a photographer make with a stock photography site?
Well, that depends on the site and the quality and size of your file. Some microstock sites will accept images around 2 MP, but usually they ask for at least 3 or 4 MP. However, submitting larger sizes does improve your sales potential as many designers simply prefer the larger sized files. Depending on the stock photography site payment policy and the size of your image, you can expect to get anywhere between 20 cents to a few dollars per download, or even more on some sites. Now lets say you have 100 images on one site. Each picture has an average of 10 download per month. If you get paid 50 cents per picture that means that you will make 500 dollars in a month. And if you have the pictures on more than one site you can make some serious money.

Some stock photography sites may sell your pictures through affiliated sites at different prices. For example, ShutterStock sells pictures on their site for a small price and the photographer gets 25 cents per download (but the photographer makes a lot of money because the pictures are downloaded very often) but they also sells pictures on other affiliated sites for a bigger price and the photographer is paid with more money, a few dollars or tenths of dollars (but the pictures are downloaded much more rarely). Anyway, the pictures are sold on affiliated sites only if the photographer agrees with this. Of course how much do you sell depends also on the quality of your pictures and how the sites manages to promote and increase its sales. The more you upload, the better the chance of making sales. Quality and quantity are directly related to your earning potential.

Latest stock photos on Dreamstime Stock Photography Community

Can I upload any photo?
Theoretically, yes. Of course stock photography sites do not accept pornographic pictures, photographs that contain violence, x-rated content, or any other illegal content. Images must not contain recognizable brand named products, any company names, product names, or trademarked designs. Images must not contain any copyrighted material including paintings, another copyrighted photo, copyrighted logos, or any other art/advertisements/sculptures/exhibits which are copyrighted. Of course, the photographs must be owned by the submitter who has the complete rights to the photo, found images and public domain images cannot be submitted. This are general submission guidelines usually applying to all stock sites. However, every time you register to a stock photography site you should read the guidelines to see if they have any particular restrictions or guidelines. Stock sites prefer commercial stock oriented images. Unfortunately, sunsets and pictures of your pet may not sell very well unless they are very good or unusual.

How do I submit photographs to a stock photography site?
There are several ways to do this. Basically you can submit via HTML upload, FTP upload or ActiveX upload. HTML upload is probably the easiest as you can do this directly from an upload page on the site. For FTP upload you need to install on your computer a FTP client and connect the FTP Client to the FTP host of the site using the information provided on the upload web page. ActiveX upload requires an ActiveX uploader that has to be installed on your computer. Macintosh, Linux, and users with old versions of Windows may have problems with the ActiveX uploader. The number of images per submission batch varies. Usually, after your initial submission has been reviewed and accepted you can upload a big number of pictures (30, 50 or more) or on some sites you can upload an unlimited number of photographs daily. Some stock photography sites have different procedures for submitting vector so you should carefully read the submission guidelines.

How will I get paid?
There are serveral ways to do this and most sites offer options. One of the most used method of payment is by a check that you can cash at a local bank and it is sent to you by post. Another convenient method is payment by Pay Pal when available. Some stock photography sites may pay you by a transfer to your bank account. The payments are made when your cash balance reaches a certain limit set by the site. This limit varies from 30 dollars to 100 dollars. Some sites pay the photographers monthly (if the photographer has reached the cash limit), others sites pay at different time intervals or when the photographer requests to be paid.

What is a model and/or property releases?
Every image with an identifiable person (or face) requires a model release. The model release is a document that must be signed by the model and it states that the model agrees with the picture being used by other people in commercial or other purposes. This model release is required even for self portraits; in case of pictures of children the model release must be signed by one of the parents. Model releases can be downloaded from the stock photography site.

A property release is a written agreement between the property owner and the photographer where the property owner has granted the photographer permission to use the photographs commercially. Releases generally permit the use of the image(s) for all purposes, with exceptions for controversial, sensitive or defamatory uses.

Some stock photography sites ask you to upload a model/property release together with the photography. Others allow you to upload pictures without releases but ask you to be able to provide the model or property release whenever is necessary.


Do I retain rights to the photos I upload?
You should always read the terms of the stock photography site to see what are your rights as a photographer. All image rights, including title and copyright, in and to the uploaded Images, are retained by the photographer; no title or copyright is transferred or granted in any way to the stock photography site or any third party. The photographer is entitled to disable file(s) from his portfolio at any time, by using the appropriate section of the stock photography site. The photographer is responsible for any challenges made by any third party regarding copyrights in the image.

Can I upload the same photograph to more than one stock photography site?
That depends on the terms and conditions of the site. If the site is non exclusive, this means that you can sell your royalty free images on that site and you are still free to sell the same images elsewhere. Fortunately, most microstock sites are nonexclusive so you can submit pictures to more than one stock photography site, increasing your sales. If the site is exclusive, than you are not allowed to sell the pictures you have uploaded on others stock agencies.


How can I buy images from a stock photgraphy site?

First of all you have to choose the right stock photography site for you. There are differences between sites including quality of the pictures, prices, photo licensing, etc. You can by photos either by a subscription for a certain period (1, 3, 6, months, 1 year, etc) or by single picture download. If you need a big number of pictures then you should consider a subscription stock photography site, because this way you will save some money. If you need to buy photos only form time to time, than maybe you should download pictures directly without a membership or subscription. But if you buy a single image you will have to pay a higher fee. Some sites (like Dreamstime, ScanStockPhoto, etc) require you to buy credits that can be used later to download photos that you need. Pictures can by also bought on a CD from a stock site. After you have decided about the right stock photography site, you have to register in order to buy images. The registration is free. Usually you can purchase images online with a credit card, but you can also pay by Pay Pal, InVoice, etc.

How can I use photos bought from a stock photography site?
Most microstock sites provide a royalty free license for the images. Usually royalty free images may be used for brochures, web sites, multimedia presentations, for business letterhead, business cards, decoration of public areas, restaurants, offices, stores, books, e-books, magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, personal use, etc. An image may not be used for more than a certain number of times (usually between 200,000 and 500.000 times) this is why you should carefully read the licensing agreement of the site. You are not allowed to resell the photos downloaded from a stock agency or sell templates that include those photos. Also you may modify an image and use it, however, you may not claim copyright to that image.

Each site has its own rules regarding the way you may use images, so you have to read the legal agreement or Terms and Conditions. By downloading an image, you agree to be bound by the terms of such an agreement so you should know what it is all about.

What license is granted with the images?
Most stock site grant a royalty free license with their photos. Royalty-free is a type of a stock photo license that provides for the unlimited use of a photo in any media defined in the licensing terms. Royalty-Free means that you pay for the image only once and then you can use it as many times as you like, with just a few restrictions. In other words, there are no license fees except the initial fee and no other royalties to be paid except those included in the initial cost. The opposite of royalty-free is rights-managed licensing. A rights-managed photo needs a specific individual license stating the audience and material surrounding the photo and it is more expensive than royalty-free photos.

Can I resell photos purchased?
You are not allowed to resell the photos downloaded from a stock agency under Royalty Free license or sell templates that include those photos. Also you may modify an image and use it, however, you may not claim copyright to that image. Some stock agencies sell images under extended licenses. These licenses allow the buyer to multiply the image up to some millions copies, to resell the image as part of a template, print, calendar, on T-shirts, etc. Of course, for these extended licenses the price is higher.

There are also some stock photography agencies that sell the rights to an image. In this case the buyer will buy the ownership of the image and the photographer will have no right to sell that image by any means. The buyer is allowed to use the image any way he wants (except for pornography, violence, or similar). Examples of stock agencies that sell the image rights: Dreamstime, Fotolia.

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