Microstock Overview > Microstock Sites > Shutterstock (Dreamstime, iStock, Bigstock, Fotolio, 123RF, Deposit Photos)

August 2008, updated March 2010 and March 2012

Backed by Getty Images, and the microstock market leader with over 3,5 million top quality images online.

Becoming a contributor

Signing up is free. Photographers are required to upload three images for preview. These images must be accepted before uploading can continue. iStockphoto have a unique policy whereby new contributors may only upload 15 images per 45 hour period. This obviously helps ensure that they only receive the best from each contributor.

Using iStockphoto

iStockphoto are very particular, and unless your image quality is spot on you will receive lots of rejections. Your photographs must be technically sound, free of digital noise, well lit and properly composed. The minimum image size you may submitt is 4 mega-pixel.

Categorising and keywording images on iStockphoto can be a bit tedious. They have a keyword disambiguation system which you may find a bit confusing to use and can waste a lot of time.

The site is very well laid out and a wealth of information about each of your images is available. Handy graphs are also displayed giving a quick graphical view of progress made.


Earnings here are good compared with most other sites. Royalties vary based on the size of image sold. (This has changed. See the updates section.)

My best month thus far was $80,96 in July 2008 with only 211 images online.

Four Oaks Online site rating



March 2010: My best month with iStockphoto was $163.00 in May 2009 with approximately 650 images in our portfolio. iStockphoto remains the most difficult site to get images approved. Uploading and keywording is by far the most time consuming compared to other stock agencies.

March 2012: My best month now at iStockphoto was May 2010, when I earned $166 from approximately 3600 images in my portfolio. iStockphoto have restructured their payment policy to heavily favour exclusive contributors. Earnings have dwindled as iStockphoto as a result.