By James George

Places to Sell Your Photography

By James George

I’m sure that you’ve heard the expression “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” This is no less true, whether you are a seasoned professional photographer, or an aspiring amateur. What many people don’t realize is that your pictures could be worth $1,000. That may be exaggerating a bit, but making money selling your photography is not as far fetched as you might think. Many stock photography websites are more than willing to give you a cut of their profits for selling your work on their site.

Here is how it works. You build a nice collection of great photos, and you want to begin selling them. You sign up with a stock photography company and in return, if someone buys your photo to use in their work, then you get a percentage of each sale. If your work is good enough, and your photos are relevant to a certain topic, they could be worth money.

Stock photography websites sprang up over the recent years, due to the increase in freelance graphic designers and startup design firms. The economy has everyone watching their budgets, and it can be expensive to hire a professional photographer for a project. It can also be a lot of work, time, and money to set up the scene that they want. This is where a good stock photography website comes in. You go to their site, sign up for a membership, and you can immediate begin to search for images via topic. Some larger stock photo companies have 1 million+ images in their database. You find an image that fits your creative vision, pay a reasonable price ($5- $50), download the image, and you are creating your design work in minutes. Some stock photo sites offer a monthly membership fee, and you can download as many images as you want, or you may have a predetermined amount of images that you can download each month. This usually depends on your membership level. This puts professional level photography in the hands of designers quickly and easily, and the designer saves tons of time.


Where to Sell Your Photos

iStockPhoto– iStockPhoto can be a bit of a challenge to join. You have to join their site, read their manual, and take a quiz. Then you have to submit samples of your best work, and if accepted, you can start selling your photos. If you sell to multiple sites, you can earn 15% through iStockPhoto, but if you decide to become exclusive to their site, then you can earn anywhere between a 22-45% royalty rate on your photos. If you fulfill certain requirements, you can sell your images to the entire Getty Images Family.

ShutterStock– It is free to contribute. All you have to do is sign up, and you can earn anywhere from $0.25 all the way up to $28.00 per image download. This can be very lucrative if your images are common or very general in subject, while being professional at the same time.

Fotolia– Fotolia has a huge library of images available for professionals. You can sign up for a free account. Then, you just upload your images and give them relevant tags. Fotolia breaks down your ability to earn into 2 categories. The first one is for single image downloads and you can earn anywhere from 20%- 63% for each image, but this rate depends on if you are exclusive to Fotolia, and what your ranking is. The second rate is for when your image is sold via subscription download. You can earn 0.25 credits to 0.40 credits.

Shutterfly– Shutterfly does things a little differently. Instead of selling your photos directly on their site, you pay an annual fee and they allow you to set up a gallery to market and sell your photos. The nice part about this is that you pay a reasonable annual fee to set up your gallery. $99 gets you 5GB of hosting space for your images, and $199 per year gives you unlimited hosting space, so if you have a very large collection of photography that you would like to sell, that package is for you. Another great aspect is that you set your own prices for your photos, which means that you make what you want to make from your work. People can order prints of your work and you get paid, or they can buy your work via digital download.

ShutterPoint– Shutterpoint makes it easy to join and start selling your photos immediately. All you have to do is sign up. They also accept all types of photos, so there isn’t a test or acceptance process before you can start selling. They also mention a bulk upload tool, so you can upload many photos quickly. They have a payout rate of 85% for Full Royalty Free images, and 70% for Standard Royalty Free images.

BigStockPhoto– This site allows you to sign up, but you have to complete a tutorial before you can begin uploading your images. Before you start selling your images on BigStockPhoto, their review team must approve them. Pay As You Go purchases will pay you 30% of the US dollar price when someone downloads a single image. This can equal up to $29.70. When someone buys your image using BigStock credits, you will receive $0.50 for every credit spent.

123RF– 123RF is another good site where you can sell your photos. Simply sign up, upload your images, and you get paid depending on how they downloaded your photo. If someone pays for your photo with credits, then you receive 50% of the selling price. If they download your photo when they are on a subscription plan, then you will receive $0.36 per download.

Dreamstime– Dreamstime allows anyone to become a member, but to sell your photos, your work has to be reviewed and you have to be accepted. The pay that you receive depends on the level that you photos are on when they sell. Every image starts at level 0 and the more times the image is downloaded, the higher its level will increase. Each level has a percentage, based on certain criteria. The whole process is rather complicated, and to understand, it would be best to view the chart on their website. There are 5 levels, and different pay scales depending on size.

Corbis– Corbis is a professional stock photography site that also allows for photography submissions. The difference here is that they are very vague on the details of being a contributor. You have to fill out an application, but it doesn’t say anywhere on the site what your compensation will be, the rates, how it works, or any details. Corbis is not as user-friendly and straightforward about compensation as the other sites listed here are.

CanStockPhoto– CanStockPhoto makes it easy to sell your photos online. Sign up for an account, fill out an application, and once you are accepted, you can begin uploading your photos quickly. You also receive money for referring other photographers. Exclusive rights photos earn 50% commission, and different sized images and assets earn different amounts of commission. To see a detailed list, click here.

DepositPhotos– DepositPhotos makes it quick and easy to get started with selling you images. Sign up for an account, pass a quick exam (they assure you that it is easy), and then you can start uploading images. The only snag is that each image has to be approved before it is officially displayed on the site to be sold. Their pay scale is similar to that of Dreamstime, where your images increase in level when they sell a certain amount. The higher the level is, the more money you make from each sale. They have a chart with examples available on their site. One stand out feature that they have is that you can sell vector images as well, but you have to upload them in the format specified.

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Photography Image via Shutterstock

  • Red Bubble is another one worthy of a mention, although not strictly stock imagery — artists upload a portfolio (photography, illustration etc) and interested customers can buy them as prints (the site takes care of printing and shipping too).

  • Yeah, if you want to go prints, Imagekind, DeviantArt, and even Cafepress come to mind.

    Hmm… maybe a future list. ;)

  • Vitezslav Valka

    Nice list, really!

    This is what I have found: Pixmac. They pay 50 to 60% comission. Flickr is for me the most fine place from UI point of view.

  • Mike

    Productiontrax is another good place to sell photos, you can also sell royalty free music and stock video footage.

  • Great information & resources!

  • Please add Featurepics (http://www.featurepics.com)

    This is an excellent stock photo site where every contributor can set his own price.

    Please check it.


  • john26632

    I use Royaltyfreestockphotogallery.com, they payout 75% commission and have always been paid in a timely manner. Its nice to get a check in the mail for doing what i love to do!

  • tcertain

    Nature Photo Index – that domain is no longer there

  • Anonymous

    DIGIBUG is another great one. This one is free and more customizable because the photographer actually gets to CHOOSE THIER OWN price per print-so they name their worth.

    Also lets you make different products out of your images- like Calendars, Coffee mugs, or puzzles.

    Anyone can use it to sell their photos quickly and Digibug even takes care of Printing, Processing and payment transaction, then sends you a check in the mail for your earnings.

    Really great, Check it out!

  • PavlinaKo

    DIGIBUG is another great one. It is more customizable in the fact that photographers get to CHOOSE THEIR OWN Price per photos, therefore choosing their own value.

    ALso, Digibug allows you to do more with your photos-like transform them into calendars, coffee mugs, puzzles and more.

    Digibug is completely free and takes care of the printing, processing and payment transactions for you, then send you a monthly check in the mail for your earnings.

    Its really helpful, Try it! Digibug.com

  • ShutterStock and iStockPhoto are the ultimate winners here. They are hard to get on but they can make you a lot of money when you have some nice portfolio uploaded. Check out the tutorials on each site to see what they’re looking for and play along. You will be surprised how much money can you make on those two stock photography giants! Check out my site for details – http://wizzley.com/selling-photos-online/

  • Don’t forget the top-end of the market … Rights Managed Stock Libraries license images for much better prices … ie. hundreds of dollars for a single use instead of <$20 for unlimited use offered on most of these sites. It does require strong 'commercial' images to compete in this marketplace, but well worth the effort if you've got the talent. GlobalEye ( http://www.GlobalEyeImages.com ) is one example … it's co-op approach means zero commissions and direct access to photo buyers.

  • Anders

    Dreamstime is the best.

    Dreamstime is well known for its care for contributors, who view it as
    the most friendly stock agency in the world, proved by several independent
    polls and surveys (see reference). In Sep 2010, an independent forum’s poll
    shows that most contributors will prefer Dreamstime to any other agency.”


  • Hello, this is an excellent article.

    I think all readers of this article are interested in earning money and enjoy taking photographs. It’s a good idea to consider all the advice needed to take better pictures, but it is also important to find an online platform that gives you the best benefits from the sale of your images, from the best commissions for each sale, easy to manage your images, Free promotional tools (of course they should be optimized tools for sharing on facebook and twitter), networks of friends with common goals, they should allow to have a blog. But do not forget another tool to make money on that site as well just sell your photos. Must have a good referral system.

    These benefits and many more are offered in a new online platform: http://www.salemythink.com.
    Earnings of 80% of the purchase price (you assign the price)
    Earnings of 2% for each sale referred user (unlimited time)
    You receive your payment from 30usd
    Of course, it´s free.
    Start your business today. Register free in salemythink
    , upload your first photo material and invite your friends to earn commissions referred.

  • The best place to sell your sunset and sunrise photos and make money would be Gnarly Sunset.


    Huge payouts per photo sold compared to microstock. Targeted niche. 5% of profits go to charity. If you aren’t on there, get signed up soon.

  • Great, that information is very interesting!

  • Great info and resources!

  • Hello webstockpro.com is also selling stock photos and is one of the pioneers in this field (started in 1993). The problem of the amateur photographer that will send his images to a stock photo library is that there are so many photographers and so many stock photos that the chance to make even minimal income out of it is unrealistic.

  • <3

  • I think Zenfolio is a great service for amateurs and professional alike! I’ve been using them to sell photos for a couple of years now and I haven’t had any issues.

    Some of the features Zenfolio offers are:
    • Unlimited storage for your photos and videos ($50/yr unlimited plan or higher)
    • Elegant pages with a variety of layouts and designs including creating your own completely custom designs that you can edit without any knowledge of coding
    • Beautiful presentation of your photos and videos
    • A very easy to use and intuitive interface
    • Full screen Slideshows with music (50 free songs are included)
    • Ability to link to many image sizes and share your photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter directly from your account. This way, you can upload files only once and share them any way you like.

    You can use my referral code X46-7P3-17R during sign up to save 10% off your own subscription. Once subscribed, you’ll get your own code, and if you get enough referrals, you may never need to pay for the service again.

    Zenfolio offers a free Trial account for two weeks so you can see if you like it. I really think you should give it a try.



    – André Van Klaveren Photography

  • I *just* received a notice from Zenfolio that they’ll be raising their rates on May 1, 2012 for new customers (still best bang for the buck than most). If you’re interested in Zenfolio (see my last comment for features and 10% discount) you should do it before the end of April to take advantage of being grandfathered for the current pricing!!

    See my last comment for URL and discount code.


    – André Van Klaveren Photography

  • I own a web design company and usually look forward to rare pictures for the sites we do. Most of the stock sites have pictures in common and pictures have been downloaded many number of times and it means that your site done with those pictures will not look unique.

    Until I came to know about a new portal called http://www.camerocks.com. Using it for the last 1 year or so and I never had any issues so far. The transactions seems to be transparent since they don’t have subscription plans. These subscription plans are usually a rip off and you don’t know how much the buyer has actually paid for your photo. It lets the stock agency sell your photos at any rate they wish.

    Some of the features I liked in camerocks.com is that,
    1) Free membership with limited storage or unlimited storage for just $25 per year.
    2) No subscription plans for buyers that will sell your photos for free and you will not know
    3) Set your own price
    4) participate in buyers image requests
    5) Photo competitions
    6) mainly for the amateurs.

    I have also tried digibug.com and fotolia.com but camerocks have sold in 3 months what I have collectively sold in fotolia in last 5 years.

  • Thanks Sitepoint, nice article. If readers are looking for more details on each library (and more) I run an educational website at http://www.microstockman.com that helps people sell their images at all the major libraries.

    Thanks again Sitepoint!

    Tim (aka Microstock Man)

    • Claudia

      Thanks so much for the link. Microstockman.com is perfect for my needs.

      • Hey Claudia,

        Not a problem, I’m really glad it has been helpful. Thanks for the nice comments.


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  • Dave

    Please up date your description of Shutterpoint. The sign up is easy, but in order to upload images and start selling they require that you purchase storage from them.

  • Another great one is http://photorankr.com. You can sell photos for free, and buying photos is really easy since you just download them straight from the site, no hassle. You also get to maintain your own copyright. No limits to the storage size or anything either. I think where it kind of beats the others is it is also a social network. You can follow other photographers and everyone has their own “Photostream” to view what is going on around the site.

  • MJ

    Great information and comments!

  • john

    I found other service to sell photos

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