Stock Agency Reviews

Various stock agencies I am contributing to are listed on this page.  Reviews are based on individual experience.  Click on agency you want to learn more about on the sub-menu below.

Shutterstock    iStock    Alamy    Dreamstime    Adobe Stock


Adobe Stock is newest player on the block.  It was created when Adobe software company (Photoshop, Corel etc.) acquired Fotolia, one of oldest European based micro-stock agency, in early 2015.  Fotolia still exists, but business is now managed by Adobe (similar to Getty images acquiring Calgary based iStock).  Adobe has brought its well established software infrastructure in the business model, including integration with Adobe Creative Cloud and ability to browse/download directly from Adobe Desktop applications.


Adobe Stock seems to be on the rise.  Overall trend seems to be emphasis on image quality at least judging to most strict QA in the industry (although contributor compensation is still "micro"). Final verdict is unclear, although I seriously doubt it will ever challenge micro-stock giant Shutterstock.


My best selling image on Adobe Stock is this Quarry Lake landscape above Canmore, Alberta.  It shows very sweet spot on loop path around the lake with backdrop of Lady McDonald and Grotto mountains on north side of Bow Valley.  Image was taken with Canon EOS 6D and 24-105L lens, at 24mm focal length

This was the first image I uploaded to Adobe and it sold 5 times in first week, but only once afterwards which leads me to believe Adobe initially promotes new contributors.  My Adobe portfolio can be seen here


Contributor Earnings Breakdown

Adobe Stock compensation is 33% of the amount paid by the buyer.  On initial glance this is higher than industry average (specially 15% rate iStock pays to non-exclusive contributors), but  it is still low.  Minimal guaranteed compensation is $0.25, which equals Shuttertock subscription rate in lowest tier.  Exact price depends on customer subscription plan.


License Method Buyer Term Royalty
3 /month Month $3.30
small (10 /month) Month $1.65
Year $0.99
medium (40 /month) Month $0.82
Year $0.66
large (350-750 /month) Annual or Month Minimal
credit packs 5 pack-500 pack $3.30


Extended License for still images pays $26.40 per download, but is very hard to come by.  Complete Adobe licensing details can be found here.

Contributor Experience

Adobe contributor portal is very minimalist and lacks many features.  Uploads are quite slow and script behind web page breaks easily forcing you to re-submit and waste time.  Describing the image is difficult -- suggested keywords are off and first thing you need to do is delete them.  Easiest way is to simply keyword comma separated your image in separate text editor, then paste to clunky Adobe interface.   Review times are long, although not as bad as on iStock.  Worst part is very inconsistent QA rules - often an image that was rejected initially will be accepted on 2nd or 3rd try just because it was reviewed by different person.  Particularly ridiculous rejection reason is "lack of commercial appeal".  For instance images of flowers will be rejected automatically, most likely by pre-processing software ("bot software") without even being seen by human person.  Others are dependent on particular reviewer taste and don't appear to follow any specific guideline.  To my knowledge Adobe is the only agency that edits for content.  For illustration this image taken on Windansea Beach in San Diego, CA I was compensated $79 on Alamy was rejected on Adobe.


Just like Dreamstime Adobe does not require initial submission. Simply follow this link to create your Adobe ID and start uploading.  Adobe does not support referrals like Shutterstock or Dreamstime. 


Overall as contributor I consider Adobe a waste of time at the moment.  Main reasons are:  Poor interface,  inconsistent/ridiculous QA rules as well as low sales.  It is possible things will improve with time, but I don't keep my fingers crossed.  If you are considering stock photography, my suggestion is to focus on Shutterstock first.