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


Dreamstime is one of oldest micro-stock agencies.   Some major companies are reportedly using their services,  including Google for their adds service.  Biggest problem from contributor standpoint seems to be vast library of over 70 million images;  it is very difficult to get a sale and most new uploads simply get buried before having chance to be seen.  To alleviate this problem search algorithms appear to be working on 'rotating basis'.  Several days -or weeks- with no sales are often followed by number of downloads in single day!  This behavior also appears to be more and more popular in stock industry overall. 


Agency has been in sharp decline lately and there are some doubts about its longevity.  It appears to be very difficult to generate any significant income for new contributors, as new images are not promoted and rarely have a chance to be seen.  Some contributors are reportedly making decent sales, but you likely have to be exhaustive portfolio (measured in 1000's).  Despite all this, most contributors consider Dreamstime as one of their "top 5" micro-stock agencies around - although it is nowhere close to Shutterstock.  One of my best selling images is this photo of canoe rental cabin at Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

A Light in the BlackA Light in the Black

Image was taken with Canon EOS 6D and 24-105L lens, at 24mm focal length. Coming back from hike I did not have tripod and had to lean camera on rock wall; I didn't think it would turn out considering 20 second exposure time, but it came out real nice! You can find my Dreamstime portfolio here


Contributor Earnings Breakdown

Dreamstime has well designed tiered compensation scheme based on image popularity.    Minimum an image can earn is 0.35 for subscription sale, which is considerably higher than 0.25 Shutterstock pays in lowest tier  (or sometimes fractions of a penny on iStock).  Feature I like the most is increase based on image popularity, which is measured by number of customer downloads (DLs):


Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
0 DLs, older than 6 months 0 DLs, newer than 6 months 1-4 DLs 5-9 DLs 10-24 DLs >25 DLs


Dreamstime also has fairly generous referral program.  Full compensation details are available here. 


Contributor Experience

Overall Dreamstime interface is among the best in industry.  UI is intuitive and reviews fast.  Submissions are streamlined easily and don't have to be part of superficial batches (such as on iStock).  Metadata can be edited after submission.  Variety of analytic tools are available, including keywords that were used by end customer in search that led to the sale.    QA process is very lenient and overall standard quite low;  it is quite hard to get an image rejected.  Weekly submission limit is set to 7000, which is practically unlimited.  


Phrases (sentences) are NOT supported for keywords, but this probably has little impact on indexing.  Maximum of 80 words are allowed (compared to 50 most agencies have).  Most likely heaviest weight on Indexing engine is image Title, so all relevant keywords should go right there.


DT is the only agency I would consider being exclusive to if overall sales were at Shutterstock level.  Initial application / approval is not required; simply follow this link to submit your first set of images and become Dreamstime contributor.