Experiences with Stock Agencies

In this short article I want to share my personal experiences what I have made with stock agencies in the recent years. The overview about the agencies where I work with may help someone who is looking for a stock agency to sell pictures. My portfolio contain mainly travel pictures and other photographers may have made opposite experiences with the same agencies. My experiences are not representive and I recommend to get as much information as possible also by other sources.


As long as I can think back I like to travel and to make photos on the trips. So I already started in 2009 to load up a my first pictures to a stock agency, but in the review I have to admit today, that my first attempts to earn money were not done with the necessary seriousness. Only a few pictures I had uploaded to Panthermedia and I was happy and satisfied when my first sales were made, but at that time I was far away from falling into a sales fever.

Not until 2016 I have started to see the stock agencies as an opportunity to improve the personal income. Finally traveling and photography are not the cheapest leisure activities. Why not earn some additional money with my hobby and reduce that monetary expenditure I asked myself and so I started a new and more serious try to sell my pictures.

New start

I started with some more registrations at different agencies. Previously I had already found out that these agencies should have enough traffic and sales to give me the opportunity to become a successful image seller.

My selection: 123rf, Adobe, Alamy, Dreamstime, iStock, Panthermedia and Shutterstock.


Here are my experiencse from the recent years:


123rf: Commercial and editorial pictures. Customer-friendly navigation on the website. The decision to approve or reject an image is sometimes very quick, but sometimes it takes a very long time.


Adobe: Commercial pictures only. The upload process and also the approvals are finished in reasonable time. Customer-friendly navigation on the website. One of my favorites but it’s very pity that no editorial pictures uploadable.


Alamy: Commercial and editorial pictures. Customer-friendly navigation on the website. Alamy do just quality checks and not a legal assessment with the uploaded pictures. The pay per image is very good compared to other agencies.


Dreamstime: Commercial and editorial pictures. Customer-friendly navigation on the website. The upload process and the pictures approval is very quick.


iStock/gettyimages: Commercial and editorial pictures. With very less pictures I generated some sales in the last years but some commissions are so low, they’re almost a bad joke. The website and sales statistics are very complicated and hard to comprehence. For me is iStock/gettyimages the agency with the least fun factor but maybe I can bring myself to upload some more pictures


Panthermedia: Commercial and editorial pictures. Panthermedia was the first stock agency were I load up my first pictures. In the time today the upload is quick, the websit navigation is also okay. By using Quicklive the pictures are very fast online, but it could be that they will be rejected some weeks later. The quantity of sales is very low.


Shutterstock: Commercial and editorial pictures. Customer-friendly navigation on the website. The upload process and the decision about approvals is fast. Shutterstock was my absolute favourite and basis agency were I continously uploaded photos and generate sales until they have become impudent. They decided to demand higher quality and to cut the pay per sale at the same time. Photographers will be downgraded once per year to the lowest level and the pay for the most of the sales is very low. Shutterstock is still one of the good agencies, but the earnings are droping down.

Portfolio development and earnings

Development of my portfolios and the earnings in the last 5 years:


The efforts and time requirements to bild up a portfolio at an agency should not be underestimated. Especially at the beginning it can be very frustrating if the numbers of pictures in the portfolio is increasing but the sales don’t follow. On such times it is important to be strong and doggedly. The best is just to find the right agency from the beginning on and to have fun with increasing sales und success.

Last update: 15 January 2023

Impressions from photo tours through Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia