You are professional photographer, graphics designer or a hobbyist with a collection of beautiful images and you are wondering what to do with them. Stock photography has created opportunities for creatives to produce images of things they love, whether real or abstract without some director breathing down your neck and cutting your creative juices.

In the 1920s when it started gaining popularity, stock photography was used mostly by newspapers and magazines to cut the cost hired photography as they had to churn out material all the time and the ready-made photographs helped to cut cost and save time. Now a host of others have joined in and stock photography has become really popular with the establishment of some of the top stock photography websites in the 2000s. Now there are hundreds of millions of stock photography content online and contributors from several parts of the world. Now you have stock images on business websites, brochures, catalogues, advertising and branding materials, novel covers, blogs and even home décor.

Here are eleven of the top stock photography websites you can share and sell your pictures on.

iSTOCKPHOTO was founded in the year 2000 and has been acquired by Getty images companies . They offer between 15-45% royalty for contributors. You can create an account for free and submit your best images. They have a Creative Research Resources centre to help with the process and they hold several contributor events yearly around the world to give contributors a chance to interact and exchange ideas. Contributors have the option of being paid up to twice per week as long as they have a minimum balance of $100. There is also the option of exclusivity which pays 15% royalty and non- exclusivity which pays 22-45% for the images.

SHUTTERSTOCK is a non-exclusive stock photography website with a reputation as one of the top-three stock photography websites. To become a contributor on Shutterstock, you will need to register for free, fill an application and present a government issued id as well as upload ten of your best images.  Seven of these images must be approved.  There is a helpful critique forum that helps new comers along in this process. Shutterstock contributors get between 20-30% royalty. A contributor with a minimum balance of $75 can be paid monthly.

ALAMY is a stock photography website that prides themselves in being user friendly and hassle free. It is pretty easy to sell on Alamy and they do not edit photographs or demand exclusivity. Generally they offer 50% royalty to photographers. However, as a part of their support for students of photography, the student-contributors get to keep a hundred percent of revenue from their photos.

FOTOLIA is a stock photography website acquired by Adobe images. Royalty on Fotolia depends on rank which is determined by number of purchases and portfolio popularity. It also depends on the exclusivity option chosen by the contributor. Royalty on Fotolia is between 20-63% upon sale. It is between 35% to 63% royalty for totally exclusive images and between 20-46% for partially exclusive and non-exclusive images. There is also a free image section where the contributors of rejected images can put up their images and gain some popularity and better ability to sell on the website.

DREAMSTIME is a Royalty free stock photography established in 2000. They are however rather selective in the receipt of pictures. They have a team of editors who must review and approve all submissions after which they are immediately put up for sale. The contributor receive a $0.20 bonus for the first 100 submissions. Royalty rates are between 25-50% for non-exclusive images. Contributors of exclusive images get an additional 10% royalty. Payment may be requested at any time as long as the contributor has a balance of $100

GETTY IMAGES has become a huge base for stock photography with an offering of over 100million stock images, partnership with Flickr and acquisition of other large stock photography websites such as Shutterstock and Corbis.  They only pay 20% royalty for images and have higher and more specific standards for the images they want. They however make up for this by having very heavy traffic and high potential for sale thus making them a top choice for contributors still.

PHOTOSHELTER is rather different from other stock photography websites. They do not  pay royalty to contributors but charge a sales transaction fee of between 8-10% depending on account tier.

SMUG MUG similar to Photoshelter, offers contributors unlimited uploads for a fee at different stages between $5.99- $35 monthly depending on the account level.

CAN STOCK PHOTO is a royalty free stock photography website premised on offering professional yet affordable images.  To get started, a contributor must register and submit contributor application. The website pays between 20 to 50% commission depending on the licence offered to purchaser.

CORBIS is another large stock photography website acquired by Getty images. Corbis Images have been migrated to Getty images. Thus a search for the Corbis stock photography website would redirect to Getty images

BIG STOCK PHOTOS was founded in 2004 and has been acquired by Shutterstock since 2009. To become a contributor on Bigstock you have to complete their contributors’ tutorial. Your images will also be reviewed by a review team. Earnings on Big stock are based on customers’ payment plan selection and the size of the file. Contributors can earn up to 30% royalty on individual sales and $0.38 royalty on subscriber sales. You can get paid weekly as long as you have a minimum balance of $30.

One thing to note about these websites is that you are not selling copyright to your images. Also most of these websites do not demand exclusivity, thus you can sell your images as many times and in as many places as you wish. There are however some who give an option for exclusivity often with an incentive of higher royalty payments. In any case, always ensure to read all terms and conditions carefully.

Stock photography can only be uploaded when it is high quality so take that passion of yours for photography and create some amazing images and you may just have yourself a steady flow of passive income.



Also published on Medium.

Lee Rivera

Just a guy who stumbled into the world of photography and want to share my love of the art with with world.