The 3 Best Sites to Sell Stock Photographs

If you are interested in making money with your photographs, stock photography is a great way to do so. But don't fool yourself into thinking you can use the run-of-the-mill photographs you chose not to place in your portfolio as stock photographs. Now that more people have access to quality cameras and the internet, any Tom, Dick and Nancy can contribute to the universe of stock photography making it more difficult to compete. Websites have the ability to turn down your work as well. Rejection is a reality in this business. Luckily, there are some great websites out there that will help ease you into business of stock photography all while promoting your work so you make maximum profit.

Used by fledgling and professional photographers alike, microstock site Dreamstime is one of the most searched stock photo websites around. Reputable and respectful, they are members of the Picture Archive Council of America and Centre of the Picture Industry. They are extremely selective in the number of photographs they chose. There is an application process that includes registration and uploading a select number of your personal photographs to be reviewed by the staff. Upon approval, your images instantly go up for sale. There is a generous selling process that operates on three levels: non-exclusive image, exclusive image and exclusive photographer. Payouts are listed at a maximum on the site (take a look at their comprehensive chart) but reviews of the site online boast of big sales. claims that Dreamstime has the highest payout of all stock photography websites.

In terms of rights and licenses, Dreamstime allows the contributor to select the type of license for each image including Web Usage, Print Usage, Sell the Rights and a few others. All images maintain copyright with the photographer. Submission limits are based on approval percentages sliding on a scale form 0-80%. But lucky for those already in the stock photography game, you can upload images previously sold. But keep in mind, Dreamstime can buy that copyright off your hands. Free to use for the contributor, Dreamstime maintains it is the best stock photography site available.


Microstock website Shutterstock has a reputation that puts it on the top of the stock photography game. Versatile yet usable, Shutterstock has one of the best multidimensional search engines of any stock photo site. Offering over 14.3million photos from 280,000 photographers, Shutterstock has a vast library businesses have come to rely on for their photography needs. Admission to the site's contributor list starts with an application process, identification verification using a government issued ID and the contributor uploading ten images. In order to be accepted to the site, seven of those ten images must be approved. If that doesn't happen, you have to wait 30 days to submit again but their helpful Critique Forum is a good place to converse with other stock photographers about what isn't working in your declined images.

Shutterstock continues to help ensure maximum sales of each image with its tutorials for contributors. Correctly key wording each image is extremely important in stock photography and Shutterstock has included a three part series on making the most with key words (check out those articles here, here and here even if you aren't considering Shutterstock as your stock photography website of choice). Utilizing every outlet available, Shutterstock also has Facebook Connect, Shuttertweet, Mini-Galleries to share and many more ways to share and promote your work. Check out their 50 Most Downloaded Images to see if you have what it takes to join the Shutterstock family.


Stemming from the experiences Flickr users have had over the years with people stealing their images or being approached by companies looking to use their photographs, Flickr and Getty Images came together in 2010 to sell user images in a stock photography format. Surely you have heard of Getty Images, but if not, here's a synopsis: "a recognized leader in the field of stock photography and an ideal partner to curate and host a collection of Flickr photographs". Basically, the best of both worlds has come together to create a powerhouse. Classified in two ways, royalty-free and rights-managed, this particular stock photography provider does not join the microstock ranks (explained here).

In order to join, you simply submit twelve of your best images to the Getty Images Call for Artists Group on Flickr and wait for a response in your Flickr inbox from the editors over at Getty. Or, while viewing your own images in your stream, click the link that enables the Request to License feature on your account informing people that you are interested in selling the license for some of your work. Either way, it is a very simple process that can yield big results. The site is in its fledgling years and they are still creating a massive catalog of works for companies to use. But getting on the bandwagon now ensures a good chance at sales with the Getty name in the future.

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Maggie OBriant
Maggie O'Briant Personal Blog | Flickr

Maggie O'Briant recently graduated from Florida State University with an English Literature degree. She is currently a freelance writer and photographer. She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and giant baby.