Sell your photos online

Sell your photos online trough stock photography. Since stock photography started initially with Getty images and Corbis, it has grown ever since. Many agencies came up offering low price images, but in great volume. Microstock photography is relatively new and they fit in the class of microstock.

There are three different categories of stock photography.


  • Microstock : low price images and inclusive
  • Midstock : Images with prices between microstock and macrostock
  • Macrostock : Exclusive high price stock photography, this being the traditional stock photography.


Since stock photography moved online, the industry of stock photography has grown. Photographers being able to sell their work online, making a profitable business. photographers submit their work to stock photography agencies. This means the photographer is licensing his images to the agency. The agency pays the photographer a fee. In the case of macrostock photography, a image can be licensed for less than €200, in the case of microstock photography as low as € 1 .


Licenses with rights managed the license is negotiated for each use. Royalty free stock photography  gives the buyers the right to use an image for an unlimited numbers of times for a single license. Royalty free stock photography is sometimes confused with ” free images ” without buying a license, or the images are public domain.

A royalty free image can be used for multiple times and for multiple purposes. No limit when to use the image, having a limit of 500,000 times that the image can be reproduced.  Royalty free mans that you don’t need to pay each time your using the image.

Rights managed images pricing of license depends on the use of image. Can be used as editorial, corporate, advertising for example. Specific use for example newspaper article. Duration, one year a month and so on. Print runs , how many times the image will be reproduced, size, industry for example engineering and exclusivity, image exclusive or not. Public domain images can be used for free without buying a license.

So how can you sell photos online? Not any photos can be sold. The photos must fulfill some requirements first. Applying to a stock photography agency such as Shutterstock is free. First the images must be yours. That means that you own the copyright of all images that you submit.

Public domain images will not be accepted. If you don’t have complete rights to the submission, you can not send it. Images should not contain any copyright materials such as artwork, other images, sculpture logos, trademark and so on. In case the images contain such elements and you submit it, you must provide signed release from copyright and/or trademark owners. In some cases you can submit if the image fits the category, as editorial. All recognizable people who are in the picture will need to have a signed model release. For example models, or your family, friends even if is a self-portrait you must have a model release. This will not apply if you send images of an event for example as editorial. This applies for most of stock photography agencies. Some agencies will require a minimum file size for example Shutterstock minimum file size is 4 MP ( megapixels ).


The images submitted will need not to be upsized, images should be correctly exposed and in-focus. Free of heavy noise, artefacts, and other technical issues that an image might have. Here comes in the importance of post processing your images to remove any flaws.


On Shutterstock you can also sell vectors illustrations, footage and music. There are other agencies that you can sell 3D models, website themes, plugins, and footage. Once you submit your application the review process will start. The reviewers will check the quality of your images if it meets the requirements. Once accepted you can start uploading your images. Doesn’t matter if you are accepted, your images will be reviewed every time you send them, before they appear in your portfolio.



Your income will depend on the volume of your portfolio and the amount of downloads. Remember the image can sell over and over. The same image can sell multiple times in a day. Other agencies offer a higher fee for photographers per download. Selling stock photography is easy. The hard part is to make it a full-time job. And what I mean by that is you need to be dedicated to it. Uploading content once a month with a fair amount of images, will increase your income. Then comes the frustration of rejection. Be ready to get your images rejected, sometimes for ridiculous reasons. So do not get in love of your images.


Quantity will not be enough. Quality is another aspect. Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t sell only a file. You also sell concepts. Conceptual images sell best. Now looking at the amount of images being involved, its difficult to come up with a concept, that is not there already, photographs of the same concept done by all photographers. The creative part must play its role.


As a photographer, my goal is to create beautiful imagery. I discovered that I can’t stop learning. It’s always something new that you can learn in photography. In my journey, I hope that I can teach others a few little things about photography and photo editing. I’m the author and the creator of this website.

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