Glamour model Nikkie Forni sues photographer for $500,000

Happy New Year ! And  I am back with a boom. The photography world is awaiting the verdict in an unprecedented case of a model suing a photographer for her images being used in a manner that does not please her at all. Glamour model Nikkie Forni sues photographer Joshua Resnick in the lawsuit Forni v. Resnick, et al. for $500,000 – after getting paid and signing a model release!

Get-rich-quick scheme

Cleveland, Ohio born glamour model Nicole (Nikkie) Forni seems to be out for a get-rich-quick scheme and in her quest for wealth she is taking no prisoners. Nikkie Forni is suing Josh Resnick because images of a photo shoot ended up on several adult sites. The glamour model, 23, says she agreed to the photo shoot back in January 2013 with Resnick on the “unconditional promise” that the glamour shots would not be used in a “directly or indirectly, in any adult-oriented, pornographic, or obscene manner” according to court papers. Before she could blink the Ohio knock-out found herself posing as the unwilling face of fantasy porn such as “Horny Housewives of Dubai: Episode 4”, “Vixen in Vegas” and “Hollywood Sex Honey: Part 2”. She even shortly became the face of Switzerland based escort service

Nicole (Nikkie) Forni

Nikkie Forni now seems to act like a bull in a China shop, suing the photographer, but also moguls like Shutterstock, Playboy, Amazon and Barnes & Noble and 33 other defendants. From the court documents it became clear that she is “demanding relief of damages against Defendant Resnick in excess of $75,000.00, plus disgorgement of all revenue and/or profits obtained from Plaintiff’s photos or images” plus “attorney fees, costs and punitive damages“, on 6 counts, adding up to over $500,000. From the other 37 odd defendants she is demanding around $225,000 each.


The problems started back in 2013 when the photographer was informed that the model was planning on taking him to court. Resnick himself says this about the matter: “I am being sued in federal court for hundreds of thousands of dollars by a model I worked with in January 2013.  This is a model that I paid, and who signed a release allowing me to sell her images through stock photo agencies. Why I am I being sued? It revolves around images that got misused or were just outright stolen and the model is blaming me for it. My case has unfortunately received national attention in the New York Post, the daily mail and Fox News, none of which have bothered to explain my side of the story.

So it seems that both the photos and the story went viral. Not a surprise really, in 2014, when everyone has a MAC/PC, smartphone, tablet, phablet, and there are a zillion hackers out there stealing photos and offering them for free on another zillion websites. They are all full 39mp resolution original images these hacks got from who-knows-where.  Stock photographers recognise this is a major problem to them. Anyone could be using those stolen images because of those pirates and then a model comes out to sue the photographer.

Meanwhile Nikkie Forni says on her Facebook pageWhen I photograph I always think of two words- sexy and classy. It’s what defines our femininity as women. I choose to show enough sexy but leave enough mystery for the viewer. I can firmly say I have never been ashamed of any photograph I’ve taken, and proudly so“. That photograph in question certainly has caused “serious emotional distress and humiliation to the Plaintiff“. I mean, it’s not that she is afraid to show some skin.


Copyright Joshua Resnick

Forni allegedly posted the photo and other shots of the photo shoot on her Facebook page. In the court documents her lawyer Michael J. O’Shea writes that “many of the photos improperly sold by Defendant Resnicjk were and continue to be sold through a website operated by Defendant Shutterstock.” It seems that the busty bombshell is pretty adamant the photos weren’t lifted from her Facebook page. Yet this photo, from the same photo shoot, is still available for the entire internet to copy and paste.

Nikkie facebook 2

Support the photographer

The photography community is pretty sure that Nikkie Forni will lose the lawsuit and that Joshua Resnick will win the case. Unfortunately Josh is always going to lose no matter what the verdict will be. Resnick is facing a huge financial burden to protect himself from what he calls a “misconception”. Resnick reached out to the community on MSG, asking to support him with this lawsuit.

Quoting Resnick: “She was an experienced lingerie and implied nude model, appearing on a magazine cover in such apparel.  I told her agent before the shoot it would be used for stock photography.  During the shoot I also told the model that the images would be for sale for stock photography and explained how stock photography works.  I explained to her that these agencies prohibit pornographic use in their terms of service..  Another person who often helped me from time to time was present during the shoot and witnessed everything.  I said nothing more and I didn’t lie.  I did NOT promise her that her images would not be misused – it is impossible in our right-click-save-as days. She saw the images before signing the model release, was happy with them and posted them herself on her Facebook page.”

He then goes on to say: “Another misconception is that our arrangement was TFP or Trade for Portfolio use.  I paid her via her agent through Paypal and have all the records of it, even providing her gas money to travel to Columbus.

I think it is indeed an important case for all photographers and the agencies out there. If this model wins this case, my prediction is that we will see a lot more cases like this. It means that a signed model release is no longer sufficient to protect photographers. Resnick is using up all his funds to protect himself. In order to keep fighting he needs more funds and is asking for donations. If you want to donate, please follow the link to his gofundme page However they do take out 7.9% in fees and an additional 30 cents per donation, so alternatively, you can also donate directly via PayPal to I have donated because I think this case is important to all of us, and I want to help a fellow photographer in distress.

Luckily Resnick is being assisted in a New York court by the very experienced attorney Nancy E. Wolff, recognised as Super Lawyer in Intellectual Property. She certainly seems to know what she is doing, which I can’t really say for the plaintiff’s lawyer Michael J. O’Shea.

I wish Joshua all the best in world, fingers crossed the judge will throw this case out of court before Forni can say ‘cheese‘ to any press photographer.

Keep checking back for updates on this frivolous lawsuit.


Losing the Overweight – My Story So Far

Promised you I would be back soon ! I said it right here, in this blog on Dublin.

Some of you might know I have been making a few life changes since January of this year. And now is a good time to let you all in on the lowdown. Please allow me to tell you my story on my mission to lose my overweight, as I am excited about my progress so far.

Overweight: The Wake Up Call

 On October 15, 2013 I took a VHI health check at work to see in what state I was at the time. I was getting a bit worried  about my overweight and I had to bite the bullet and face reality. So I took the test, and as expected, my health was not in a good state. My cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI where too high and I was at risk for developing diabetes or heart problems, I was advised to go see a doctor. I didn’t go see a doctor, I was worried about where I was going, but I didn’t take any action…..yet. The following months after the health check, every time I looked into the mirror I really didn’t like what I was looking at. I realised it all had gotten out of hand, I was way too fat, unhealthy, lazy, finding excuses, but it was time to change things around. At my worst I weighed 140 kilos.

Taking Control

With the health check still on my mind I took matters in my own hand and in January I joined the Operation Transformation (OT). OT is a TV program on RTE here in Ireland, and at work they had created the opportunity to partake in the program. We would be weighed and measured, the canteen would offer the diOverweightet, and the gym would keep track of our progress once every week. The goal I had set myself back then is to lose 50 kilos and to walk the Wicklow Way (127km) in the summer of 2015.

In the past 8 months I have completely changed my lifestyle with support from the fitness instructor, and it gets easier with every step I take. I had a few hick ups and struggles, but managed to stay on my path. With my own determination and advice from the fitness instructor, him also giving me incentives to keep going, I managed to hit goal after goal. I went from no activity in my life whatsoever, to being extremely active and living a healthy life.

Hitting Targets

Just last week I passed my half-way target, losing 26 kilos so far. I have another 12 months to lose the other 24 kilos. Yesterday I took the health check again and my blood pressure is perfect, my cholesterol has gone down significantly, I went from morbid obesity BMI 42 to moderately obese BMI 34. I am getting back to a good health, good fitness and live a longer and better quality life.

Next goal is to drop below BMI 30 and just be overweight. Haha. Never figured that could be a good thing.

I keep myself active by swimming, hiking and following a weight lifting program provided by the fitness instructor (I am in the gym twice a week after work). I have recently added badminton to my list of activities. The diversity in activity keeps it interesting and fun, and I don’t get bored and I don’t get the feeling I want to quit. My other passion in life, photography, goes hand in hand with hiking, and I am taking images of the breath-taking Irish landscape, from the most amazing sceneries this country has to offer.


I am wearing T-shirts I bought 10 years ago, still brand new, they never really fit, now they fit comfortably. Shorts bought in 2007, occasionally worn before they got too small, now need a belt. My belts are too big, I need to add more holes. I can finally tuck my shirt in my slacks these days, something that I couldn’t really do before. I am buying fashionable clothing off the rack. People respond to me differently, as if they can feel the positive change I am going through. It feels great to get compliments, it just keeps me going. It is those little things you can do again, like crossing your legs, that makes me smile. I want more of this, don’t want it to end, and all I need to do is just keeping walking on this path I started walking (literally) 8 months ago.

Losing the overweight

Losing the overweight

I guess now I know what it feels like to be fit and achieve goals. 18 months ago I had to catch my breath walking stairs here at work. I recently broke down crying at the summit of Diamond Hill, realising I am now climbing mountains. So now I have set myself more challenging goals for the next couple of years and they make great vacations too !

  1. Ireland – Carrauntoohil 1,038m – 15km – 2014
  2. Ireland – Wicklow Way – 127km – 2015
  3. Sweden – Fjällräven Classic – 110km – 2015
  4. Tanzania – Mt. Kilimanjaro 5,895m – 64km – 2016
  5. Nepal – Mt. Everest South Base Camp 5,150m – 50km – 2017
  6. Canada – West Coast Trail – 75km – 2018
  7. Spain – Camino de Santiago – 800km – 2018

The opportunities my employer offered me, such as the VHI health checks, Operation Transformation, the gym and our recreational team are the catalysts that helped me to change my life. Good stuff for sure, but without my own determinaton and hard work, it would not have been a success. I do take credit for this change, and I hope it inspires you as well. It needs to come from within, otherwise the tools alone won’t be enough.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave your comment. Others might be inspired by your story.

Happy hiking everyone.


Visiting or Moving to Dublin

Guess who’s back and this time it is all about Dublin. I really need to post more regularly but lately I have just been very active working on the new me. For the past 8 months I have started turning my life around. Getting healthy and more active. I will write more about that next week when I have the results of the health check.


Today I want to share some info with you, could be helpful if you ever decide to start-up a new adventure and want to move to Dublin. I have been living in Dublin for almost 8 years, might as well use that experience to help others. If you are going to live in Dublin you will most likely start off with sharing a house or apartment with other people. Housing is expensive indeed. If you find a room in a house with three or 4 people you will pay approx 300 – 400 Euros. If you want to rent a two room apartment it will cost 1000 – 1200. Most people spread the cost by sharing an apartment. Make sure you choose the right room-mate as it can turn sour if you don’t, I speak from experience. You can choose to pick someone to share a place with or  choose to live with the owner/landlord. There are also one room apartments for 700-800 Euros. A one room bed sit or studio will cost 600-700 Euros. So it is expensive in Dublin, in fact, rents are about 12% higher than the rest of the country. Here are some links to get you started:

My Home –
Daft –
Gumtree – 

Typical Irish Semi Detached House

Typical Irish Semi Detached House


If you come to work in Ireland, it won’t be a problem to find a job if you are looking for language based roles or want to work in the hospitality industry. Most major IT companies have their European offices and service centres in Dublin. They always need people with a second language. Think of PayPal, EBay, Xerox, HP, Microsoft, Symantec, Facebook, Google, IBM etc. They always are looking for customer representatives. So if you speak a 2nd language that would be a benefit, but if you speak a foreign language and English, you obviously speak two languages. The pay-check will be between 20,000 and 25,000 euro gross annual pay. Account Executive and Account Manager roles start from 25,000 up to 40,000. If you have a sales background there is even more choice as they always need sales people. Waiter / Waitress roles pay around 8-10 euro per hourYou pay 20% income tax under 32,800 euro, and  41% over anything above. Your pay check is enough to live and party. I am an account manager and I make enough to rent a nice apartment, own a car and go out to the city twice a month and see a lot of good shows, movies and pay my bills. You will survive! –
Monster –
Irish Jobs –
Multilingual Vacancies –

Work Your Way to Success

Work Your Way to Success

PPS Number

I moved to Dublin from the Netherlands in 2007. The most important thing to get sorted when arriving in Ireland is a PPS number for sure, and open a bank account. You can always contact your country’s embassy. Be aware, in Ireland they are still working with paper work and that brings a lot of bureaucracy and cost time. In 2014 more and more companies offer online forms, but you will notice that you still have to physically sign those forms and post them.

Dublin –
Citizens Information –
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade –
Irish Links –
PPS Number – Very looooooong link, just click here.

Dublin 13 Kilometres

Dublin 13 Kilometres


Last but not least, what about the famous Irish pubs?? Well, I’ll tell ya. A pint in Dublin will cost between 4-6 Euros depending on the location and venue. A mix will be 7,50. The food prices in restaurants are affordable and the food in Dublin is good. Quick note: Dublin has a zillion supermarkets, but shopping in Ireland is expensive. The main stores are Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes and Superquinn. If you want to buy quality at reasonable prices you want to go to Lidl or Aldi. The Superquinn and the smaller stores like Spar, Londis and Mace are expensive.

For rock and folk music you are in the right place. You will find a lot of free gigs in the pubs. Porterhouse Temple Bar, The Mezz, Temple Bar (traditional Irish). If you want to go clubbing you can go to Academy (former Spirit 57) or the D|two. Areas to check out are Temple Bar, Harcourt Street / Wexford Street, Baggot Street, Grafton Street / Stepens Green, Dame Street and South William Street. Anyway there are many many pubs and restaurants in Dublin, and basically all pubs will serve bar or finger food, one of my regulars is the Foggy Dew, for the best Guinness go to McDaids. Dublin is amazing when it comes to nightlife although later than 3am you won’t find many places open but there are clubs that open till 4am or 5am. And come Christmas definitely do the 12 Pubs of Christmas, it is fantastic craic, stick to one drink per pub and you will make it.

Dublin Links –
Temple Bar –
Porterhouse –
Dublin Events –

Lost Society Lounge and Nightclub on South William Street

Lost Society Lounge and Nightclub on South William Street

I could keep writing forever but I think it is cool to just find out some stuff on your own, explore the city, meet the locals, meet fellow travellers, suck up the culture. Dublin is a great city, with a fantastic buzz and atmosphere. There are tons of things to do, you will not get bored here.

Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy your stay in Ireland, however long it may be. And if your want to eternize your stay with professional photos, check out this blog!


Microstock agency Fotolia leads race to the bottom

Dear reader, thanks again for stopping by,  I wish I could bring you a good news article, but I am afraid its again an article to make you aware some bad news for photographers.

A while back we learned about a deal Getty made with Google which was not beneficial to photographers, then Getty decided to give away 35 million images, later we found out Fiverr members were illegally re-selling our images, and now Fotolia has started the Dollar Photo Club, trying to disrupt the stock photo market.


Dollar Photo Club

This next write up is taken from this forum post: Earlier in 2014, Fotolia introduced the Dollar Photo Club, a stock site with all Fotolia’s photos and illustrations but with very different pricing. Although Fotolia is presenting this site as exclusive and targeted at high volume buyers, the reality is that for just $10 a month you can sign up for a 10-image “subscription” – $1 per  image, all sizes. Anyone can sign up – and some contributors who had never purchased a single image were sent the offer e-mail!

And the contributor makes a subscription royalty for each sale. Subscription prices without a requirement for the buyer to commit to a high volume of purchases is very very bad news for contributor income.

Contributors were not notified about the drastically different pricing and were initially told there was no way to opt out of this sales channel – except by leaving Fotolia. With the encouragement of a group of contributors pledging to remove their files if things didn’t change, Fotolia has relented and provided an option to opt-out of sales at Dollar Photo Club (referred to as DPC in the Contributor Profile)

You can read Fotolia’s intentions in their own words in this TechCrunch article:

“In an effort to take on the entrenched players in the States, namely Shutterstock and iStock, he created DollarPhotoClub as a pricing play to break into the US.” and “It’s disrupting the business model of the two big U.S. players…”

If Dollar Photo Club succeeds, what will get disrupted is contributor income – this is replacing higher royalties with lower, not opening new markets or finding new buyers (and early responses on Twitter and Facebook indicate that’s exactly what’s happening).

So for your own sake, at a minimum opt out of Dollar Photo Club – on Fotolia, when logged in, it’s in Profile, then Contributor Parameters. You could also consider whether or not it makes sense to support an agency that treats its contributors so shabbily. Remember, the opt out only became available as people started deleting work from Fotolia.

It was 28 million plus images; today, it’s 27 million and falling!

You can sign the petition here:

You can read all about Fotolia Deactivation Day here:

Thank you for your time and support. The next blog will be a positve one, promise


TripShooter – No More Selfies

i-L2bwMWtWell, another blog entry and so soon after my last one. What a treat! Thanks for sticking around. Today it is all about TripShooter. A concept by Jade and Bertrand Maitre, a French-Australian couple living in the heart of Paris.  Jade and Bertrand have a passion for travel and an even greater passion for beautiful images.

Who are Jade and Bertrand?

Jade and Bertrand have spent 10 years travelling around the world, lived in many places and captured every moment with their cameras.  Jade and Bertrand consider themselves very lucky to show that passion in their photography work, photographing and curating for individuals and companies all around the world. For many photographers photography is their life, and it is no different for  Jade and Bertrand. It is their drive to tell stories, seize moments, and inspire other people with their images. And like most people, including me, during their travels,  they love to create memories and share them with friends and family. It all sounds really familiar if you are a photographer. 


For me it all comes down to my motto:  Semmick Photo is a hobby that turned into a professional passion for photography and its vast and unlimited possibilities to express vision and capture moments in time! And that’s exactly why I understand their passion. Photography is a wonderful medium to create memories and capture those precious moments. So it is obvious that when Bertrand contacted me if I wanted to join TripShooter as in-house photographer, I didn’t have to think twice. It was this image that Bertrand bought on Shutterstock for the website, that lead him to my own site, and then he contacted me.



So what is TripShooter, might as well answer this question, after all, it’s what this blog is all about, isn’t it now! The tagline covers it pretty well: Professional Photos of You on Vacation. With that in mind, TripShooter offers you the chance to have your unforgettable travel moments captured by a network of experienced, talented photographers all around Europe. Using a TripShooter Photographer allows you to relax, enjoy the moment and most importantly… go home with stunning vacation images featuring … you.

At TripShooter they worked hard to bring you the best photographers in the region. They are exceptionally talented, friendly and professional. They have intimate knowledge of their cities and will lead you to the best on-site locations. The photo shoots are tailored to fit your mood and style. TripShooter is fun, affordable and easy to organise. And yours truly is one of the TripShooter photographers based in Dublin.


I was able to ask Jade and Bertrand a few questions, so here is a mini interview with J+B:

RB: You run the site with your wife. Did photography bring you two together?

J+B: We are partners in life and in business. We have known each other for over 10 years. We are blessed with 4 lovely boys under 5, including a pair of twins. Photography is our life – we seek to tell stories, seize moments, and inspire. We want to share our passions with our kids. We always thought that children should be an incentive to discover the world so in the last few years we’ve taken them to Australia, China, Brazil, USA, Japan, Fiji and France. We are advocates of slow travel, so we have plenty of time to enjoy life and take beautiful photos.  Our 5-year-old has claimed one of our old SLRs and is showing a strong interest in capturing his vision of world.

RB: When did you come up with the idea for TripShooter? What triggered the idea?

In 2013, we spent 4 months in Brazil. Jade was working on a new novel and I wanted to learn Portuguese and spend more time with the children. While we were there we enjoyed taking some photos but we were frustrated not to have more shots of all of us together. That’s when we had the WOW moment… Why not build a network of experienced, talented professional photographers who would capture a traveller’s best moments? We did some research and realised that this service was only mostly offered by individual photographers but no-one was federating them into a professional community. A few weeks after having had that idea we decided to move to the most travelled-to city in the world, Paris, to launch TripShooter. This is where we still are… until TripShooter takes us somewhere else.

RB: How long did you work on the concept before it became what it is today?

J+B: It took us about 100 days to go from the idea to an operating business. We are both working full-time on this project and we are now focusing our efforts on spreading the word and looking after our growing customer base.

RB: How many cities are covered by TripShooter?

J+B: More than 1 billion people are predicted to be travelling the world in 2014 – a 5% growth from last year. About 50% of the travellers are in Europe, so it is natural for to base ourselves here and working on developing Europe. We have selected the 30 most visited destinations to start with in Europe. We have photographers in most of them.

Bonus question: What is your goal with TripShooter. Where do you want to take it?

J+B: We want to build a new awareness about how great destination vacation photography is. With the growing number of travellers and the importance of images in our society, we see an exciting and bright future for this kind of photography. There are no happier memories than ones of holidays, and having the privilege of helping to capture these moments is just really exciting.


A big thank you to Jade and Bertrand for answering my questions. Personally I think it is a fantastic concept and a wonderful project. I am sure that they will get out of it what they put in. Passion and drive go a long way, and customers will be affected by it in a positive way. I am excited about it, and I will do my best to make it a sounding success.

Going on holiday to  Dublin, Vienna, Salzburg, Paris, Marseilles, Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Lisbon, Aix-en-Provence, Munich, Berlin, Cologne, Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples, Florence, Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza, Mallorca, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Bruges, Copenhagen, Dubrovnik, Krakow, Prague or Stockholm? Book a TripShooter !! You can book a 30 minute shoot for 12 images, an hour shoot for 30 images or a 2 hour shoot for 60 images. All images are high resolution, high quality, professionally processed images. If you want to get more information on TripShooter and the packages, you can visit the website here

Thanks once more for reading my blog.  The next blog will be about life and living in Dublin.



The 2013 Microstock Industry Survey

Hi all, its been a while. Writing a blog and taking photos really are two different things, and it seems I am more out taking photos and dreaming up new concepts which slows down things on the blog front.

But, first things first, here is to the new year. I wish you good health, love and success for 2014. We can now start reviewing 2013 and adjust our business plans for 2014.

Based on my overall photo sales, my total earnings of 2013 are 328% compared to 2012 (note: 2012 was only 10 months, started in February). My total images sales in 2013 are 325% compared to 2012. The majority of my revenue is generated by Shutterstock at 51%, Shutterstock generates 74% of my total image sales. Suggesting the Revenue Per Download (RPD) elsewhere is better. Fine Art America is my second earning and generates 21%  of my revenue at an RPD of 85$. Followed by:

Fotolia 6%
123RF 4%
Canstock 4%
Deposit 2%
Istock 2%
Direct Sales 2%
Zazzle 2%
Alamy 2%
Photodune 1%
Nationale Beeldbank 1%

So, 2013 was a good year, growth is slow, but it blew 2012 out of the water. If I can sustain half of the growth for 2014 I am well chuffed. My business, started in February 2012, made a loss in the first year, but already recorded a profit for 2013. Not bad for a start-up, which generally record losses in the first 3 years of the start-up. So there you have it, which brings me to the 2013 Microstock Industry Survey.

Microstock Survey


The microstock survey is an initiative from Tyler Olson. Here is what Tyler has to say about the survey:

If you enjoyed the previous years results, please share it around (last year we had 750+ respondents).  It would be great if as many people as possible can take part so we can get the most accurate results possible.
The survey follows a nearly identical flow to previous years (with a few tweaks thanks to comments) as it is nice to compare results from year to year and I feel it asks the basic questions we are wondering without taking too long to answer.
For interest, here is last year’s infographic and full results.
As a thank you to everyone who responds there will be a random give-away again.  There are a number of prizes up for grabs.  There will be one winner for each prize.  Winners will be drawn randomly (using a random number generator).  Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash.
StockPerformer has offered a one year Eagle and one year Sparrow membership ($400 and $125 value)
ProImageExperts has offered a $500 image editing package and a $400 image editing package (2 winners)
MicrostockSubmitter has offered a 6 month unlimited subscriptions ($250 value)
MicrostockGroup will give a GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition ($399 value)

Those are some awesome prizes! I have my eye on the GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition so I will for sure fill out the survey and I urge everyone else to do the same. The more data Tyler can collect, the more accurate the results will be.  

The 2013 Microstock Industry Survey is now open for your input.  It shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes if you have your numbers ready.  And I am sure you have your numbers ready, as us photographers are aces in financial administration. 

Here are the results of the previous editions of the Microstock Industry Survey:

2012: 754 responses
2011: 709 responses
2010: 628 responses
2009: 413 responses
2008: 244 responses

Mini Interview with Tyler Olson

I also managed to ask Tyler a few questions about the survey and about MSG, so here is a mini interview with Tyler Olson:

Who Am I
I work as a self-employed photographer shooting mainly stock photography.  The majority of my work goes to the ‘micro’ agencies with a few images selected out to specialty collections.  I also run the forums over at and blog on Microstock.

1. Why did you start up MSG?
I started MSG back in 2006 because I missed a community devoted to discussing microstock photography.  At the time I was very active on but felt microstock deserved a forum of its own.  You can see that I modeled the layout of the front page of MicrostockGroup after DPC.

2. How do you find the time to be a successful photographer and manage MSG at the same time?
I use a lot of lists to prioritize my time and I work a lot in what I call seasons.  I’ll spend a month devoted to MicrostockGroup then spend several months doing mostly stock photography then a month devoted to another project, etc.  I find I work more effectively when I do this.  I still complete tasks in areas other than the ‘focus area’ for that season but it helps to keep my time and efforts focused and efficient.  I worked as a tree planter for quite a few summers when I was a student and if there is any job which teaches you efficiency, it is tree planting.  We were paid per-tree, so every time you could save 1 second of the time it took to plant a tree you would make nearly 10% more.  With not much more to think about other than efficiency, the concept was fairly well processed over the course of a few summers.

3. What is the best thing that ever happened on the forum?
I don’t know if there can be a single event that is described as ‘the best’.  Overall however, I think the best thing is that the forum is still alive and thriving after 8 years.  I really value the presence of various microstock agency reps / owners that visit the forum and provide feedback to the members, and obviously, all the members on the site are really great and are what makes MicrostockGroup what it is.  Being a microstock artist can be a lonely profession at times, having the social network provided by microstockgroup has been important to me and hopefully to other members as well.

Bonus question. What was the most surprising outcome you ever got from your surveys?
I don’t know that anything exceptionally shocking or surprising has come out of the survey, mostly just very interesting and curious information.  The majority of the data follows the 80/20 or 90/10 rule where 90% of the income is going to 10% of the artist, or 10% of the people have submitted 90% of the images etc.  This is the 6th year the survey has been run and comparing trends spanning years is becoming a highlight of the survey results.

That’s all folks! I would like to thank you all for reading my blog and for partaking in the 2013 Microstock Industry Survey. Please share the survey where you can, as it will benefit us all to have the most accurate collection of data.

Thanks again, and keep shooting.


Canon 6D at Applelectronic

Hi there, welcome back to my blog. Its been a while since my last entry, but there is no need to blog just for the sake of blogging. But today, I actually have something exciting I want to share with you.

Purchasing a Canon 6D Body (Wi-Fi & GPS)

There is always a lot to do about purchasing electronic equipment from the internet shops offering top brand products for low prices. Normally when you see pricing which seems to good to be true, it is just that, too good to be true. But there are honest sellers out there offering products at low pricing without any scams, hidden fees or obligated up-sells. Often these products are referred to as grey market or grey sets. Grey market sounds dodgy or illegal but in fact it is perfectly legal. What happens is that goods are imported from a country where the product is cheaper, but not through officially recognised channels. These official channels are approved or authorised by the manufacturer to import the products and sell on the local markets. When you purchase directly from these unauthorised resellers, you cut out a lot of extra margin. But these grey sets  are cleared by customs, duty and tax paid and there is nothing illegal about it. Resellers just don’t like it, because they sell less units.

The difference from buying from a foreign reseller is the fact that manufacturer warranty is often a local warranty. Which means there is no international warranty offered, which will render grey sets ineligible for warranty claims with the manufacturer. Because of the nature of local warranties, importers of grey sets usually offer their own warranty schemes only valid in the country where the product was purchased. Worst case scenario, you need to ship your camera or lens back to e.g. Hong Kong.

Due Dilligence

Regardless of the warranty issue, the trick is to find an online store that is legit, which is not always easy.  Sometimes you need to use common sense to determine if  its to good to be true, or just your lucky day. You can try to find sources on the internet, normally on discussion boards or forums, to see if the store you want to purchase from is legit, if positive experiences are reported. Since I am a photographer, and posting on a few photography forums, it’s also easy to ask the question to fellow photographers, who might have experience with a certain web-shop. Also look for the PayPal logo or checkout. PayPal offers buyer protection, so in case you purchase a camera body full of sand, you can get your money back. In general, scammers won’t really offer PayPal as PayPal will freeze their account at the first single report of fraud. And a purchase with a credit card basically offers you the same protection. If the purchase has to be made with e.g. a Western Union transfer or MoneyGram, you need to step away from the deal. And you can check sites like Scamadviser.comTrustpilot or Nextag to see if a website has too many red flags or negative comments. Web reputation is important for stores, check if they have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Check for recent activity, check for comments, and if the user comments are getting replies from the store. When a store keeps negative user comments on the Facebook page, it could indicate they have nothing to hide.

Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USMAnyhoo, after my purchase of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM at Onestop Digital, which was a positive experience, I was saving up for a full frame Canon DSLR. After a lot of reading and asking questions and comparing different bodies, I decided to go for the Canon 6D. The Canon 6D is an entry-level professional full frame DSLR which combines elements from the Canon 7D and 5DMKII. I wanted to purchase the camera from Onestop Digital again as I was happy with them. And I always stick to a store when the experience has been a good one. Onestop Digital offered the Canon 6D for €1,300 euro.  So it was an easy choice to purchase from them again. I had added the Canon 6D to my shopping cart, to purchase the camera the next day when I had all my monies in one place in the bank, so I could purchase with PayPal.

When returning to the web-shop the next day I noticed the Canon 6D was deleted from my shopping cart. When I searched for the camera I found it for  €120 euro more expensive. That was quite upsetting, so I emailed the store that I had the camera in my shopping cart for €1,300 euro and that I thought the overnight price hike of 9.2% was quite ridiculous. Its like shopping at Tesco, sticking a frying pan of €10 euro in your cart,  and by the time you get to the register, it costs €11 euro. They replied that they couldn’t offer me any discount, and even me pleading being a returning customer and probably not returning for future purchases, didn’t make a difference. In fact, the Canon 6D now costs €1,491 euro. That’s €191 euro (15%)  up from their original price. I was back to square one in finding a trustworthy online retailer, without having to pay the ridiculous high price of €2,000 euro, which the Canon 6D costs in Ireland.

Doing my research I ran into a few stores like, Panamoz and Applelectronic and a few more stores. Some of them could be dropped immediately  because the pricing was not competitive or the offer was too good to be true.  It was going to be one of the 3 mentioned shops. I did my due diligence as described above, and found out that ValueBasket was experiencing stock issues and Panamoz only ships to the UK. The only choice left was Applelectronic. They have the Canon 6D priced at €1,275 euro, which is really sharp, but not too good to be true.

Applelectronic Logo

Their FAQ on the taxes and duty wasn’t really clear to me. I have had to pay duty at my door before, so I decided to check their Facebook page and Twitter to see if I could find more information and I did. I found out that they are actively responding to comments on their Facebook page. They are tweeting offers, and they have positive reviews on Nextag and are verified by GoDaddy. I found some comments from them on shipping and taxes, but I decided to email them anyway and ask them about it. I left them a message on Facebook as well. Better safe then sorry, something might have changed in their policy. It’s not the first that time that something like that happened.

Q: Do I have to pay for any import duties or tax
A: Our price is door to door price, which inclusive all charges until delivery to your door side. No hidden charge.

Applelectronics Duty 1

Applelectronics Duty 2

In the mean time I had gathered enough information to put my mind at ease and ordered the Canon EOS 6D (WG) and paid with my PayPal account. In case it was the perfect scam, I would still get my money back from PayPal. I was confident in paying Applelectronic the price they asked for the Canon 6D. I emailed them on Saturday morning and wasn’t expecting a reply till Monday. On Monday morning before going to work I checked my email and as expected I had an answer from Applelectronic on both Facebook and by email. Duty and taxes were covered and there was no shipping fee. At this point I was confident that things would go well. Now all I had to do is wait. Which is quite excruciating when you are as excited as I was about my first professional full frame camera. Mind you, I have only been selling my images for 18 months, and already managed to upgrade to a Canon L lens and full frame camera. I have only been taking photos for a little over 2 years. I never expected to end up with a dream kit like that so quickly.

Canon EOS 6D body with full frame sensorOn Tuesday I checked and the camera hadn’t been shipped yet, but the FAQ was quite clear about that, it would take about 2 days to ship and then depending on the location 3-5 days to arrive. I emailed them if they could ship asap as I have a shoot coming up with 3 gorgeous models. And since my 450D was broken, I needed the Canon 6D asap. They did reply and said they would ship it as fast as they could. The next day, Wednesday, I received my DHL tracking number. It didn’t show up on the DHL site, so I emailed Appleletronic about it. They said they would look into it, and they did, as their next reply was that the tracking number was now available on the DHL website. Here you can see the progress of the shipping. I was quite impressed by the speed of it. And I was quite nervous on Friday because I was sure it would be delivered to me just before the weekend. I couldn’t really focus at work and was refreshing the DHL website constantly to see if it had been delivered already. And at 11.03am GMT I noticed it had just been delivered. So I rushed down to the mail room, and there it was, perfectly packed, my Canon EOS 6D (WG)!! The mail room didn’t even had the time to register the package.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 Location Time
1 Shipment picked up HONG KONG 18:06
Thursday, September 12, 2013 Location Time
2 Arrived at Sort Facility HONG KONG HONG KONG 00:04
3 Processed at HONG KONG HONG KONG 04:53
4 Departed Facility in HONG KONG HONG KONG 05:08
5 Arrived at Sort Facility LEIPZIG – GERMANY LEIPZIG – GERMANY 16:38
Friday, September 13, 2013 Location Time
7 Departed Facility in LEIPZIG – GERMANY LEIPZIG – GERMANY 00:42
8 Transferred through EAST MIDLANDS – UK EAST MIDLANDS – UK 04:45
9 Departed Facility in EAST MIDLANDS – UK EAST MIDLANDS – UK 04:48
10 Customs status updated DUBLIN – IRELAND 06:05
11 Arrived at Sort Facility DUBLIN – IRELAND DUBLIN – IRELAND 06:56
12 Clearance processing complete at DUBLIN – IRELAND DUBLIN – IRELAND 07:18
13 Arrived at Delivery Facility in DUBLIN – IRELAND DUBLIN – IRELAND 07:19
14 With delivery courier DUBLIN – IRELAND 08:45
15 Delivered – Signed for by xxxxxx DUBLIN 10:48


With the package under my arm and a big smile on my face I went back to my desk and opened the box. There she was, my black beauty. A streamlined, lightweight, curved body. I couldn’t believe it how compact and light it was. And it felt really good in my hand. I charged the battery at work, and switched on the camera. The shutter sound is so beautiful, so decent. It was the perfect buy and the friendly guys at Applelectronic made it happen. A sharply priced Canon EOS 6D, at €1,275, from Hong Kong to Dublin in 5 days, no hassle, no hidden charges. Just as it says on the tin. Applelectronic will be my new go to store for other purchases. I still need an ultra wide-angle lens and I am also in the market for a battery grip and an external flash. I am more than happy to order it from Applelectronic.

So there you have it, it’s quite the blog for just a simple order, but I know that there not many good detailed reviews for every webs shop out there. I am hoping my experience will help some people make the right decision. I have to add a little disclaimer though. This is only MY experience, for this particular product, at this price, from Hong Kong to Dublin. It’s no guarantee your experience will be the same. None the less, the story is true.

My next blog will be about my first impressions of the Canon EOS 6D and I will for sure start adding new photos to my portfolio soon.

Happy shopping


Top 8 Microstock Agencies Explained

Updated 15 May 2014

If you ended up reading this blog, then you are probably either interested in making money with your photography, or wanting to spend money on my images. If it’s the latter, you want to be here, if it’s the former, keep on reading.

Top 8 Microstock Agencies Explained

Selling images has been around for ages, it basically started with stock agencies archiving film images and sending out catalogs to potential buyers and then they would pick their images and the images were picked from the archive and posted (snail mail) to the buyers. Then along came digital cameras and the whole stock sales of images changed. Image banks have been around for ages as well, but at some point the microstock model was introduced. iStockphoto was the first agency to come up with the microstock model and Shutterstock introduced the subscription sales. Also images were no longer sold as Rights Managed but now offered as Royalty Free.

Basically the introduction of micro pricing, subscription sales, and royalty free images negatively affected the business a lot of pro shooters who were relying on the high prices per image sale. And images were sold with a limited license (rights managed) and now images are sold for as little as $0.16 cent and the usage is practically unlimited. So be prepared to get some evil looks when you tell other photographers you are a microstocker.

The world through your viewfinder

Alas, we are here now, the market has changed, and if you want to sell your images, you can. Its simple and easy, BUT it does take hard work, a lot of time, including processing, keywording, uploading and submitting the images to photo stock agencies. I know that with dedication and passion its still doable, but remember, the golden days of getting rich quickly are far over. However, once online, the images could start selling and making you money. Please bear in mind that microstock agencies take a commission and pay you a royalty for the sale of the image license. You don’t sell the actual image, you sell a license and the buyer downloads the image for them to use within the license they bought. There are standard licenses and extended licenses. An extended license can make you a nice bit of money per sale. Just make sure you check out the licenses your agency of choice is offering. Also check out any partnerships they have with other agencies and re-sellers, as they could have different licenses and different pricing.

There are literally hundreds of microstock agencies, and some agencies have more success in selling your images than others. So I made a list of the top 8 agencies. Well, the top 4 is basically set in stone, called the Big 4, or the top-tier. Then we have middle tier and lowest tier. I only selected the Big 4 and 4 agencies of the middle tier. As said, the top 4 hasn’t changed for a long time, in the middle tier there are a lot more position shifts, but I picked the ones that do best for me. Your mileage may vary.


1. Shutterstock


 is the top-selling agency with probably the largest library of royalty free stock images. Shutterstock was founded in 2003 by Jon Oringer. With 34 million images, only Alamy with 44 million images is bigger as far as I know. You would think they don’t need more images, but they still take new contributors on board. Once you pass the test you can start submitting your images and hope for sales. Submit high quality images and you will be able to make money on Shutterstock. Shutterstock basically takes all images if they are technically perfect and have a commercial value. Shutterstock loves nice deep colorful images. You might get rejections on some subjects as candles and backgrounds such as walls. The many downloads you get make up for the low pricing. Starting at $0.25c per download things start slow, but once they pick up you can get a nice payout per month. My biggest sale on Shutterstock was $70 USD. The forum is very active and a lot of contributors are there to help you pass the initial test. I strongly advice you  to post your first 10 photos in the critique forum. If you fail the test you need to wait 30 days before you can try again. Good luck.

Application Test: Yes – 10 images (pass 7/10)

Minimum Image Requirements: 4 megapixels

Upload Limit: No

Exclusivity: No

Accept Editorial: Yes

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations, Footage

Royalties: $0.25c – $0.38c subscription sales depending on your level, 20%-30% for non subscription sales, up to $120 USD for Single On Demand licences.

Payout Level: $75 USD

Critique Forum: Yes

Subscription Sales: Yes

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


2. iStockphoto

iStockphotowas basically the first microstock agency founded and the lifeswork of Bruce Livingstone. In 2000 Istock was a free photo library but in 2001 it started to sell images and the microstock model was born. Istock is now a subsidiary to Getty Images and no longer an independent agency. Istock and Shutterstock are eternal competitors and their contributors can sometimes go head to head in the independent forums. But its all good banter. Istockphoto has a very strict release policy and basically they do not accept overly processed images. Up until recently you could only upload 18 high quality images per week. But the upload restriction has been loosened and the reviews are more lenient these days. The keywording process at Istock is quite tedious and for every photo shoot with people, you need a new model release. When you go exclusive with Istock you will get a fairly higher royalty. As independent photographer your royalty is the lowest in the industry, but the higher pricing can make up for that.  Another thing to consider is that as in non-exclusive contributor your images will be submitted into the Partner Program and sold on i.e. Thinkstock which as a low pricing structure. Exclusives can opt to do so. So if you still want to submit images to iStock, then your images will sit between 15 million images. I suggest using Deep Meta for submitting images to Istock. Good luck.

Application Test: Yes – Quiz Test + 3 images (pass 3/3)

Minimum Image Requirements: 1600 x 1200 pixels or larger

Upload Limit: Yes – 999 per week

Exclusivity: Yes – Agency Exclusive

Accept Editorial: Yes

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations, Footage, Audio, Flash

Royalties: 15%-20% depending on your performance in the previous year, 25%-45% for exclusives.

Payout Level:  $100 USD

Critique Forum: Yes

Subscription Sales: Yes, introduced April 2014

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


3. Fotolia


with 28 million has the second largest image library after Shutterstock. Before you read on, please read THIS first. Fotolia is a very peculiar agency and its never clear what images they want. But overall it seems they really like people and food images and isolations. If you are a landscape shooter like me you might find yourself getting more rejections then you bargained for. My acceptance ration on the different agencies is 90%-98%, but on Fotolia its 60%. However, if your work is stunning you might have a better result. Also make sure you untick the box for free images when submitting your images, otherwise all your rejected images will be offered in the free download section. I always wondered why an image costing less than 20 cent is rejected but good enough to offer for free? Submitting to Fotolia has become a little easier since they introduced image indexing. When signing up with Fotolia make sure you sign up with a Euro or British Pound account as the payout is with credits, and 1 credit is one $ USD or one € EUR or one £ GBP. I didn’t know at the time and signed up with a Dollar account and now miss out on at least 30% of income from Fotolia. Fotolia used to be my second earner, but due to a new price cut for slow selling images, it seems they are now down on the microstock ladder. Images that havent sold for 6 months are reduced in price, even if they are seasonal images, or images with lots of downloads. You need to find out for your self if it is worth submitting to them. Good Luck.

PS: Please make sure you OPT OUT OF THE DOLLAR PHOTO CLUB: Go to My Account / My Profile / Contributor Parameters. Below “Sell my files on DPC”, click “Modify” next to it. Make the text change to “don’t sell my files on DPC”, save settings!

Application Test: No

Minimum Image Requirements: 1600 x 2400 pixels or larger

Upload Limit: No

Exclusivity: Yes – Image Exclusivity

Accept Editorial: No

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations, Footage

Royalties: 0.25cr –  1.25cr subscription sales depending on your level, 20%-63% for credit sales.

Payout Level: 50 credits (depending on your account that is $50 USD or €50 EUR or £50 GBP)

Critique Forum: Yes

Subscription Sales: Yes

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


4. Dreamstime

Dreamstimeis one of two agencies I have quit submitting my images to and left altogether. Dreamstime seriously got on my nerves with their similar image rejections. It has been a complaint for years by many photographers but you have to learn to live with it. For me it didn’t work out as I have over 200 country flags which I had to combine in collages, thus making me less money. Lately it seems they are less strict on similar images, I guess 18 million images is not enough. You do get detailed information why an image was rejected. So you can learn from it as well.  Just be aware that if you have too many rejections, your uploads will be limited. And important is to know your images are locked in for 6 months, so if you want to leave, you can’t do that immediately, you need to be patient.  Dreamstime has for many contributors the highest return per image. So it’s definitely worth checking them out. Good luck.

PS: After dropping DepositPhotos I have opened my account with Dreamstime again to get some lost earnings back.

Application Test: No

Minimum Image Requirements: 3 megapixels

Upload Limit: Yes – depending on your acceptance ratio. 50 per week for new contributors

Exclusivity: Yes – Agency Exclusive or Image Exclusivity

Accept Editorial: Yes

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations

Royalties: $0.35c or $0.42c sub sales depending on exclusivity, 25%-45% on credit sales for non exclusive, depending on your level and 27.5%-60% on credit sales for exclusivity, depending on your level.

Payout Level: $100 USD

Critique Forum: Yes

Subscription Sales: Yes

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


5. 123RF

123RFis the top agency in the middle tier. 123RF has gotten some heat from the contributors at the beginning of the year for introducing a new royalty structure based on your performance in the previous 12 months. Many photographers were set back in royalty levels and receiving a lower royalty pay out per license sold. I have to say that I am making more money on 123RF then in 2012 but that could also be related to my ever-growing portfolio. The acceptance ratio on 123RF is high, and formerly they were more lenient in their reviews, lately it seems they are more tough on image quality. With 21 million images online they can afford to do that. Submitting to 123RF is one of the fastest across the board. Once the images are uploaded all you have to do is attach your releases where/if needed. Good luck.

Application Test: No

Minimum Image Requirements: 6 megapixels

Upload Limit: No

Exclusivity: No

Accept Editorial: Yes

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations, Footage

Royalties: $0.216c – $0.432c sub sales and 30%-60% for credit sales, depending on your performance of the previous 12 months. Due to discounts you will see lower royalties on sub sales.

Payout Level: $50 USD

Critique Forum: No

Subscription Sales: Yes

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


6. Depostitphotos


is battling with 123RF and Photodune for the top spot in the middle tier. However, my sales on Depositphoto are mainly $0.30 cent subscription sales. Your content has to be really good with lots of potential and you must have lots of it. The uploading to Depositphoto is quite easy. The new editor lets you batch edit your images, and adding  releases is quite quick and easy. I average about $17 dollar per month with 900 images. But I shoot what I like, not specifically commercial, typical stock images. The acceptance ratio on Depositphoto is quite high, but they are not as tough with their reviews as Shutterstock or iStock. They have 16.5 million images for sale. Depositphotos is not a big earner for most, but if you have really good images, you might be able to get a pay out every month. Good luck.

PS: After finding out that DepositPhotos is seriously underpaying contributors through shady deals with Shotshop, I have deleted my portfolio there. Be careful when dealing with DepositPhotos and ask for your images to be removed from Shotshop.

Application Test: Yes – 5 images

Minimum Image Requirements: 2400 x 1600 pixels or lager

Upload Limit: No

Exclusivity: Yes – Agency Exclusive

Accept Editorial: Yes

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations, Footage

Royalties: $0.30c – $0.35c sub sales, 44%-52% for credit sales, depending on your level and non exclusive. $0.31c – $0.40c sub sales, 50%-60% for credit sales, depending on your level and being exclusive.

Payout Level: $50

Critique Forum: No

Subscription Sales: Yes

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


7. Photodune (Envato)

Photodune (Envato)oooh Photodune. I actually like Photodune. They are not a big earner for me, but they only have half my portfolio. Envato is very much geared towards graphic design, maybe that’s why Photodune only has 3,889,854 images in the library. They earn me around the same amount per month as Depositphotos. Their pricing is very simple and straightforward and their reviews are fair. The only problem with Photodune is to learn how to best use their uploading system. It’s quite complicated and you are best off using FTP upload for that as it simplifies attaching releases. If you use their web uploader you will go crazy. FTP is the easiest option. Once the images are ready for submitting, it’s just a simple click of the button. Most sales are $0.66c and $0.99c, and if you get a good few you can reach payout every month. It’s a bit of work, but it gets you that little bit of extra income. Good luck.

Application Test: Yes – Author Quiz

Minimum Image Requirements: 2 megapixels

Upload Limit: Yes – 1000-5000 per day

Exclusivity: Yes – Agency Exclusive but you are allowed to sell other images not submitted to PD elsewhere.

Accept Editorial: No

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations, Audio, Footage, Code, Software (Envato Marketplaces)

Royalties: 33% non exclusive, 50%-70% for exclusive images depending on your sales history.

Payout Level: $50

Critique Forum: Yes

Subscription Sales: No

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


8. CanStockPhoto

Can Stock Photo

is nicely floating in the middle tier. Canstockphoto is a nice little agency run by Duncan Enman. He basically runs this site on his own and has stabilized the agency nicely and is generating slow but steady sales. CSP has recently passed the 11 million images, built up in 9 years. What I like about CSP is that you can expect nice royalties of $2.50 or $5 dollar every now and then. Their reviews are the fastest in the industry, and their uploading system is very quick, no hassle. New contributors must first fill out an application first. You need to submit 3 sample images, and links to any agencies that you presently work with. The applications are evaluated as one piece, and the primary intention is to ensure you have the ability of providing commercial quality images. In other words, all 3 of the application images might not pass their current submissions, but if they show potential then you will still pass. Good luck.

Application Test: Yes – 3 images + link to portfolio

Minimum Image Requirements: 3 megapixels

Upload Limit: No

Exclusivity: Yes – Image Exclusivity

Accept Editorial: No

Other Media Accepted: Yes – Vectors, Illustrations, Footage

Royalties: $0.25c small & large sub sales, $0.35c x-large and vector sub sales, 50% for credit sales.

Payout Level: $50

Critique Forum: Yes

Subscription Sales: Yes

Credit/Packet Sales: Yes


So there you have it, 8 microstock agencies you can start submitting your images to and try and make some money. If you have the talent and if you manage to do well, it’s still possible to make a living solely from selling images through stock agencies. Its a lot of hard work, but if you love photography as much as I do, you don’t have to work another day in your life.

I hope this was helpful, feel free to ask me questions on any of the above agencies or on stock photography in general. I will do my best to answer them fast and accurate. In my next blog I will talk a bit more about my own experiences and income from the agencies I am submitting my images to. I am also still in the process of uploading my full portfolio to my site here. Once it is done, you will get a better picture on the potential of selling your images online.

Happy shooting

Update: My full portfolio is available now on Semmick Photo. Thank you for your interest. 

If you want to be my referral for a stock site, just click on the following links from your main computer

Celebrating All Things Irish – A Travel Blog

The Gathering Ireland 2013 is a spectacular, year-long celebration of all things Irish.

I live in Ireland, I am Dutch, but have been here for over 6 years. There is a lot to see in Ireland (Island as a whole), but there are some locations you have to see. They are popular tourist spots for a reason, but nevertheless worth a visit. An artist on Fine Art America asked the question where to travel in Ireland, what is a must see, and basically gave me the inspiration to write this blog today.

Shamrock - The Symbol of Ireland

Shamrock – The Symbol of Ireland

People mention the west coast of Ireland a lot, and the west coast is indeed incredible, but Northern-Ireland is magnificent as well. The Causeway Coastal Route  in Northern Ireland will take you along the coastline and its just fantastic. Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge are a must see.

The route passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland and is widely regarded as one of the top five drives in Europe.  Along the way you will pass through what was once the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada where man first settled on this island, where saint Patrick delivered his first ministeries and where many of the myths and legends of Ireland have their roots.

On the west coast you want to see the Cliffs of Moher, really breathtaking on a good day. When you are on the west coast, you can consider going down the Ring of Kerry, that is on my to do list as well.  and Couty Donegal is my next destination as it has one of the most impressive landscapes and mountains. And maybe you can consider the Aran Islands while you are up there anyway 🙂

If you are on the east coast, County Wicklow and the Wicklow Mountains are absolutely amazing, Wicklow is called the Garden of Ireland, and it offers fantastic views, of Dublin, Glendalough and the Monastic ruins.

A bit more north and you can visit Newgrange in the Boyne Valley, a 5000 year old Passage Tomb famous for the Winter Solstice illumination.

In the south you can make a visit to Cork and Cork city and check out the south coast of Ireland, famous for its “relaxed pace of life and outstanding natural beauty”. The Irish from Cork do stress the raw beauty of West Cork and so does Conor Murphy:

These links should set you in the right direction, From here you can nearly see the Torch on the statue of Liberty in New York. This is surely the most beautiful garden ever created.

For more interesting cities in Ireland consider, Dublin (east coast and capital, I love Dublin) or Killkenny (village on the east coast), Galway (lovely little town full of Art on the east coast) and Cork in the south and Belfast (capital of Northern-Ireland) in the north.

Just remember that the island Ireland is made up of two countries, The Republic of Ireland and Northern-Ireland (which is part of the UK). Belfast is in Northern Ireland and has a lot of history about the Protestants and Catholics and their division. If you do the Causeway Coastal Route you end up in Belfast. The Titanic Docks is a great place to visit there, where the Titanic was built.

This is a good website that will tell you all about Ireland. Its also the year of The Gathering so 2013 is all about festivals, and tourism and loads of cool stuff will be organised throughout the country

Photography by Semmick PhotoPhotography by Semmick Photo
Photography by Semmick PhotoPhotography by Semmick Photo
Photography by Semmick PhotoPhotography by Semmick Photo
Photography by Semmick PhotoPhotography by Semmick Photo
Photography by Semmick PhotoPhotography by Semmick Photo

Here is a gallery of my images I took in Ireland or you can search for downloadable images here.

If you have any more questions, just let me know. My next blog will be focusing on photography in Dublin. Enjoy your travels in Ireland, you are going to love it !!


Symbiostock – Fair Trade Image Licenses

Hi There,

After a hiatus of a few months I am back on the blog front. Back in January the Getty/Google deal got me to start this blog. In the mean time there have been some developments and I have now started up my own site. Basically the Getty / Google deal kind of rejuvenated this project because photographers and illustrators basically want the royalties for their work they believe is fair. Micro stock agency’s pay royalties of 15%-50% to the artist. The bigger agency’s pay the lowest royalty and the agency with a more fair cut for the artist don’t have many sales. Catch 22.

Also the constant lowering of the royalties and one sided changes to the contracts are reasons that many artists are now taking control back in their own hands. How? By opening their own websites and selling direct. Whats new about that you ask? Well, we are artists, not web developers, its not easy to build a website to sell images, and basically every out of the box solution also costs money, in the form of a monthly subscription, or in the form of, yes, a commission for the host. So here comes Symbiostock, created by Leo Blanchette of ClipArt Illustration, a WordPress theme, simple to install, opensource, free of any charge and enables fair trade for the artist. Why, we get to keep 100% royalty of the work we create. Getting 15%-50% of a sale of your own work is just not going to cut it. I call it Fair Trade, as finally, its a deal fair for the photographer. Fair trade according to Wiki:

Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea,bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.

OK, we are not working in developing countries, but having to give up 50%-85% of sales is quite a big cut. Its not considered to be fair. Getting 100% paid for the images and illustrations we create does sound fair. Back to Symbiostock. This network of artists, linking their Symbiostock powered WordPress sites with each other is giving us a chance to offer the images and illustrations we create directly to the buyer. No middleman, no agency, just the buyer and the artist, doing business. Sounds fair, doesnt it?

Symbiostock logo

Symbiostock, the WordPress theme that makes this all possible, is developed by Leo Blanchette. Leo is an illustrator and developer who came up with this idea about 3 years ago. He is also a great guy and I asked him 5 questions he kindly answered:

So who is Leo Blanchette?

 I’m just a guy who likes to build/create stuff, which is what attracted me to Stock Illustration. I was especially excited to get involved with Stock illustration because it allowed me to be home with my family during the children’s young years. 

Why and when did you come up with the idea for Symbiostock?

I came up with Symbiostock 2 or 3 years ago. The initial idea was called “Microstock Machine” after much pondering and experimenting Symbiostock was chosen because it sounds better, and the “Symbiotic” relationship it gives would be more emphasized. But with Symbiostock’s present functionality, you can see why “Microstock Machine” was the initial inspiration. 
I think lots of people have had the idea of a “network” solution to microstock, but it generally never progressed beyond a forum idea thread. The seed was sort of progressively planted as I started to learn web design and it became obvious it would be a need with some of the negative changes Microstock has undergone. It became an “official” pursuit when the G/G deal happened, and a certain Illustrator advised me I would have to make my prototype Microstock Machine public or people would not have many options in the future. 

I understand at some point you were putting in 10 hours a day, and worked on this project for several months. Why do you offer Symbiostock for free?

Why free? The question is more “Why Open Source?” This model gives much more power for progress and community strength, as well as a good product. With times changing people cannot afford the expensive options, and the cheap ones are not necessarily helpful either. But finally I’m going to be able to start charging for various things, as I hope many people do, so its not a completely free option. The most powerful / significant options are free, however, putting everyone on pretty strong terms with their own marketing. 

Where do you see Symbiostock in 5 years?

Symbiostock in 5 years? A personal hope of mine is that it gains both webmasters and an audience in touch with the sciences and education. I hope to see a rather self-motivated and self-regulating community who can give quality and meaningful content to customers. I hope to bring the “symbio” model out of Stock Photography/Illustration into things like electronics, programming, natural sciences/conservation, etc. But of course the Symbio-community will be nicely scattered among most subjects. The entire idea behind Symbiostock is creating a sort of “collective intelligence” which helps everyone to benefit and profit.By way of example: Wiki-pedia and wiki-answers is well known as a knowledge base. I hope the Symbio-model becomes a dual knowledge base and profit engine for hobbyists and professionals to expand their opportunities and skills, allowing publishing and distributing of content which is useful. What better place to begin this concept than Microstock?

Thank you for answering these questions, Leo. One bonus question;  what is the best illustration you ever made?

I don’t know about best – but I have some personal favorites! You can guess why :D Here they are: 
Magnifying Transmitter, The Wardenclyffe TowerStock Illustration by Leo BlanchetteDandelion Seeds, 3d Generated - Fibonacci Sequence ExperimentAll images purchased directly from Leo, showing the force of Symbiostock. Leo received $2.50 per image, instead of $0.37c

Now Symbiostock is released into the public, its our job to get the word out there. Feel free to quote this blog, link back, ping back, share, whatever is needed to spread the word. In short: 

Symbiostock is a powerful WordPress theme for illustrators and photographers to sell their images. Symbiostock, as its name implies, creates a symbiotic relationship among microstock professionals. Sites connect into a vast network of shared results, allowing customers to migrate around, study their options, and most importantly, connect with the talented artists who supply them.

Get on board with Symbiostock – Fair trade licenses! Artists  keep 100% of their sales and will share their portfolios to offer a variety of images for every buyer to find the images they need. And the buyer is guaranteed to purchase directly from the artist.

Suggested hosting for your Symbiostock site — BLUEHOSTDownload WordPress here and download the Symbiostock theme here. For support go here.

Semmick Photo is part of the Symbiostock network, created by Leo Blanchette, with contributions of the MicroStockGroup forums and ClipArtOf.

Chicago From Dawn to Dusk

Hey there,

Today I felt like sharing some of my favorite images of Chicago. The images show Chicago from Dawn to Dusk.

Ron in Chicago

Ron in Chicago


These images are for sale on premium quality canvas and other high quality prints. Click on the image to get to the site and choose the pint size and material of your preference.

Sell Art Online

Art Prints

Photography Prints

Art Prints

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

Art Prints

Photography Prints

Photography Prints

Art Prints

Art Prints

Sell Art Online

Thank you for your time. Any feedback is always appreciated. Next time I will showcase some images from St Louis, or maybe Dublin 🙂


chicago art
tourism photos
chicago skyline art
cityscape art
the bean art
cloud gate art

Getty Shows True Colors with DMCA Take Down Notice

Hello there,

I hope this blog finds you well.

After writing about the positive side of copyright notices, its back to reality and I find myself writing about the latest developments in the Google / Getty /iStock deal that has gone haywire. I have a few updates for you and they are quite intriguing.

Over the last week iStock contributors and photographers have been committing to Deactivation Day on the 2nd of February. Also many of them have already been deactivating and deleting their images from iStock. Some of them even have gone as far as deleting their entire portfolio. These drastic measures are to protect their intellectual property from being rendered worthless, when they are added to the Google Drive free library. As soon as this deal came to light, two camps have formed. One side is upset and wants to get out of this deal and are taking action. The other side, a bit short sighted in my opinion, says that deleting a few thousand images are not going to do take iStock out of business. Surely they are missing the point.

It has been made pretty clear this is not about taking down iStock or Getty for that matter, its about protecting photographer’s intellectual property (IP) from being given away to millions of Google Drive users. Its also about protecting the good people that had their photographs taken, signed a model release, and trusting that these images would be only sold through the worlds leading stock photo agency. So be it that Google Drive now has model released images, free to use, without any clear restrictions on usage. Its a disaster for those photographers who are affected by this, and potentially for the entire stock industry. Images available for free, and models stop agreeing to the sales of their images because their images now potentially could end up being used in compromising ads or campaigns.

So the photographers are determined and the tally for Deactivation Day added up to over 40.000 images already. Lawyers are getting involved. Portfolios being deleted. And bloggers and news writers all over the internet are getting word out. I am not linking to all the sources individually, you can read all about the movement here on Basically that forum has been the backbone ever since this deal was reported by Sean Locke, and made the union of photographers possible. A union that is unique to a business that basically exists out of individuals. Such union and likemindedness has never been seen before in the stock photography business. If one thing is on their mind, about this Getty deal, this image might illustrate it best:

Young woman showing middle finger

So, what about these Getty colors? Well, it seems that Getty has countered after the photographers hit back at Getty’s first punch. In a considered ruthless and hypocrite move, they have submitted a DMCA take down notice to this website that was collecting stats directly from Google Drive by deep linking the images to that website. Deep linking is considered to be legal, as its basically the way Google displays the images in their search with a back link as well. Flickr allows linking to the images in their library.


Having or showing no pity or compassion for others: “a ruthless manipulator”.

Little history; one savvy photographer also happened to have some nice coding skills and wrote a code to pull stats and and thumbnails from Google Drive. The site was created to keep track of the images that were added to the deal so that photographer could easily find their photos and take action. Over the course of this week the number of photos added to this deal added up to a staggering 12.000 free images. The website was very helpful, but unfortunately Getty got wind and, iStock counsel Ron Lotook action.

Corporate Counsel at iStockphoto, Ronald Lo, issued a DMCA takedown notice (Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 6:17 AM PST). I respectfully obliged (Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 10:11 AM PST).
As I mentioned before, deep linking is considered legal, and photographers are just baffled over this DMCA take down notice. Sean Locke, talented photographer and experienced Googler, took a ‘deep dive’ on the internet and found  information explaining more on deep linking and its legality. So considering deep linking is legal, the DMCA take down notice from Getty seems to be bogus. And if that’s the case, Getty has another thing coming.

According to Google, more than half of the DMCA complaints it receives involve businesses targeting competition. Here’s the key stat: 37% of the claims were bogus. In other words, just because someone claims you’re violating the DMCA doesn’t necessarily mean that you actually are. So there’s no need to panic if you receive a DMCA complaint.

In consultation with your attorney, consider suing for the false claims made. Under the DMCA, you may be entitled to damages, attorney fees, and costs for dealing with a bogus DMCA complaint. Note that you may have other claims too. For example, if your hosting company decides not to continue hosting your website because of one or more bogus DMCA claims, you may be able to seek damages for tortious interference with business relationships. In addition, some obtain injunctions to prevent future harassment.

Photographers are not impressed by Getty’s latest move, and it surely added more oil on the fire. A tweet is now circulating on Twitter with the following message:
#iStock issues DMCA takedown for image thumbs in the scummy #Getty/#Google deal-so we can’t track them

If you feel the need to support this cause, you can C/P that tweet and get the word out. Loads of small things, can make a big impact. Bloggers, photographers and news writers need to unite and use all available media to inform people that we cannot be played with. Its people livelihoods we are dealing with here.

Thanking you in advance for your support!


The Positive Side of a Copyright Notice

Hey there, howsit goin’?

I’ll jump right in. When something ugly is going on, there is always something positive to report on as well. To balance out the bad going on in the world of photography, it is also important to write about the good.

While the battle of the Photogs vs Getty is in full swing, some nice things happened along the way, on a completely different level. Only a week ago I was contacted by a law firm who had come across one of my images on Flickr. They asked me if it was OK to use the image for free, but I would be credited on their website. First of all, how cool is that? You would say its normal, but more and more these days, our photos are taken instead of licensed against a fee. But since the photo is for sale on multiple stock agencies I offered them a fair price for the licence. So they came back to me agreeing on the fee and the image is now licensed to them for use on their website and in brochures or ad campaigns.

St Louis Skyline and Mississippi river

Right, while all of this was going on, I was at some point searching the internet with Google Images to see where my photos are being used. Google Images is great for this as you can just drop an image in the box, and Google will search the internet to find matching images. Anyhoo, searching the net, and I found a hit on my Clock Eye image. It was used on a blog written by a lovely woman called Esther Bradley-DeTally. Esther is a talented writer and author of You Carry the Heavy Stuff. The image hadn’t been licensed so I wrote a nice comment on her blog explaining that copyrighted images have to be licensed against a fee. Esther and me then had a very nice offline conversation where I explained how it normally works in the world of image licensing. She was very understanding about it and purchased the image for her blog for a fair price and she will also use the  image for her next book. I am really grateful for that.

I am really happy with the way both stories ended and it does show a few things:

  1. Not everyone is aware of the copyright on images, so its important to share your knowledge
  2. Images found on Google, are most of the time considered to be free to use, when they are not
  3. When you explain nicely that an image needs to be licensed, you have a good chance of a happy ending
  4. Don’t be greedy when asking for a price, it will definitely increase the chances of closing the deal
  5. If you are nice to others, you will get it back one way or another, Karma does exist

Clock face aging or bio clock concept

This brings me to the following story which is somewhat backing up the 5 conclusions I wrote up here. This is an experience from a writer called Roni Loren who is a successful author and National Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat. Roni encountered the same thing as I did, but experienced it from the blogger side. She unknowingly used a copyrighted image and the photographer found his image on his blog. For what I understand the exchange between Roni and the photographer was less amiable then my own experience. With permission I quote Roni:

Well on one random post, I grabbed one random picture off of google and then a few weeks later I got contacted by the photographer who owned that photo. He sent me a takedown notice, which I responded to immediately because I felt awful that I had unknowingly used a copyrighted pic. The pic was down within minutes. But that wasn’t going to cut it. He wanted compensation for the pic. A significant chunk of money that I couldn’t afford. I’m not going to go into the details but know that it was a lot of stress, lawyers had to get involved, and I had to pay money that I didn’t have for a use of a photo I didn’t need.

Although it was a rough experience for her, a valuable lesson was learned and she wrote about it in her blog. I think Roni made good list of things to know about images and the internet:


  • if you link back to the source and list the photographer’s name
  • if the picture is not full-sized (only thumbnail size is okay)
  • if you did it innocently
  • if your site is non-commercial and you made no money from the use of the photo
  • if you didn’t claim the photo was yours
  • if you’ve added commentary in addition to having the pic in the post
  • if the picture is embedded and not saved on your server
  • if you have a disclaimer on your site.
  • if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a DMCA notice (you do have to take it down, but it doesn’t absolve you.)

Photographers constantly run into images that are not licensed. We are losing money over lost sales, and it costs us money to chase the (unknowing) infringers. It also costs a lot of time, time we actually want to use shooting and creating new images for the world to see. Some photographers have been shooting all their life and each and everyday they have to spend more time on things they don’t want to do. Some photographers have just stopped wasting their time and take their losses, they rather go out and be creative. I am still very new at photography but these two encounters have taken my copyright virginity. For me both occasions ended on a positive note, knock wood, but I can see it happening that at some point I also have to take my losses. We will see, and I am sure you will hear about it here when it happens.

Well, it would be a missed opportunity if I wouldn’t give you a few pointers on what you can do about making sure you don’t end up fighting with a photographer over copyrights. Roni has it all figured out and I appreciate it that she took the time to educate people about the matter. I quoted her tips but please read her blog and explanation to get the full picture:

  1. If you’ve been using images without approval from the internet on your blogs, know that you are probably violating copyright and could be sued for it.
  2. Search for photos that are approved for use.
  3. Take your own photos and share the love.
  4. Use sites like Pinterest and Tumblr with caution.
  5. Assume that something is copyrighted until proven otherwise.
  6. Spread the word to your fellow bloggers.

And what I would like to add to that is, images do not have to be expensive. You can buy a single image for for your blog for $2 dollar on CanStockPhoto. You can buy credit packages at Fotolia to get a discount if you need more than one image. You can also buy subscriptions at Shutterstock which allows you to download a significant number of images per month. There are many stock agencies out there and I am sure there is an agency that offers something that suits your needs for a fair price. And you can also always contact the photographer, in case you have that information, and ask for a price. Photographers are known to be a bit vain and to have poor business acumen, so when asked to give you a price, after you have wooed them and complimented them on their artistic eye, chances are you might get a fair price 🙂 Dont pin me down on it though, you could get the old film shooter who wants top dollar 😉

Woman working outdoors on laptop showing currency 3D

Well, there you have it; tips, tricks and great advice on how to avoid angry photographers, getting the right image for your blog and most importantly, being able to spend time on what you love to do, instead of wasting valuable energy on things you never meant for to happen. And I will end this blog with some sound advice my dad always gave me when I was a kid; Sonif you don’t know something, ask questions. Just ask questions.



Photographers and Getty go Head to Head in Google Drive Deal

A few days ago I wrote a blog about a deal made between Getty and Google which caused an uproar in the iStock (Getty) community. Images were included in a deal with Google Drive, where Google members can use the images for free in their Google Documents. The photographers who had their images picked for this deal received either $12 or as little as $6 per image.

Since then a few new developments have occurred and they are quite juicy. It seems Getty/iStock and their contributors go head to head and a third player has entered the arena, Shutterstock!

First, it seems that that Getty still believes they are right and all others are wrong. In an article from the British Journal of Photography a Getty spokeswoman is quoted saying:

“Google licensed an initial pool of several thousand images from Getty Images and iStockphoto Royalty-Free collections for use by Google users through the Google Drive platform […] Royalties for these images were paid through Getty Images and were processed in October and paid in November of 2012 based on a per-image price.”

And then she goes on to say: “[contributors] are granted rights to place this imagery in content created using Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Presentations, which end uses can be for commercial purposes.” She adds: “Google users are not granted rights to use this imagery outside the context of Google Drive created content. No rights are granted to Google users to redistribute image files outside of the context in which they’re used.”

What I understand from that spokeswoman is that you got paid and that’s the end of it. But it doesn’t hold water in my humble and honest opinion. I get it if the image on Google Drive is used once, by one person, but as soon as the next person uses that same image, another 12 dollars should exchange hands/banks. In this case, the images on Google Drive can be used an infinite amount of times, by infinite amount of people and the photographer got paid for one single download only. 

These latest developments have been picked up by the iStock community so its only a matter of time before this one takes off as well. I can imagine the statement from the Getty spokeswoman is only oil on an already out of control fire.

Secondly, regardless of the mass uprising against this deal, and whilst the community is waiting for answers, Getty/iStock seem to be adding new images to this deal as if nothing happened.

Just checked my December Getty statement and see another (3rd?) round of licenses to Google Drive occurred last month.

What I also expressed in the iStock forum, is one would almost think they are committing business suicide. Either that or its just utter arrogance. In the mean time the deactivating of images is still ongoing and there are rumors that Deactivation Day (D-Day), planned for the 2nd of February might be moved ahead to a sooner date as contributors are ramping up the deactivation of images as we speak. I myself only had 11 images on iStock, but deactivated them this morning. I will never see my $3.84 balance paid out, but it seems iStock needs it more than I do at this point.


Deactivating images on iStock is a bit of a pain in the wrist as you need to go through 3 steps for each image to get to the deactivation screen. So iStock exclusive Sean Locke wrote a Greasemonkey Script that will help you deactivate images a lot easier and quicker. Or you can get it directly by clicking this link. You do need Greasemonkey installed for it to work.

And the fight is toughening up, members are being banned from forums, I was told by Sheila Smart. The word about this deal is now spreading over the internet as you can see in this summary from photographer Dennis Pepin. It also has already found its way onto Wikipedia.


So what about that third player, Shutterstock? And this is where it gets real fun 🙂 Apparently Shutterstock received a significant amount of emails from stock photo exclusives (whether these are iStock exclusive is left in the middle, but the coincidence of these two events makes it very plausible).

We are receiving inquiries from exclusives who are interested in joining Shutterstock. We have created a direct email address,, to guide them through the signup and approval process.

This new move is considered to be another slap in the face of iStock, Shutterstock’s biggest competitor in the microstock industry. The Shutterstock community is waiting with great anticipation on what is going to happen next. Some Shutterstock contributors say its a good thing, because it will bring more buyers to Shutterstock. Some are gearing up for some new stiff competition from this potential flood of high quality images. On the move from Shutterstock seems to have received a warm welcome, and iStock exclusives are in the process of submitting their entire portfolios to Shutterstock, where they will have to go through the review process. How many images will be added to the Shutterstock libary is hard to say, but it will be in the thousands. The future will tell.

So… we haven’t seen the end of this yet, and I am sure it will bring us some more fireworks. I will keep you up to date about any new developments. For now, I am going to have a few beers with friends and watch some quality Led Zepplin concerts.

Talk soon!


Google Drive(s) Photographers Bonkers over Getty Deal Gone Bad

Hi World,

After the Instagram upheaval not so long ago, another agency couldn’t resit one of the 7 deadly sins and apparently sold out its own contributors to Google Drive for a measly 12 dollar per photo. Whats this deal you ask? Well let me explain.

On December 6th the Google Drive Blog announced that “5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides”, basically for free use in Google Drive documents. These photos are wholly owned by iStock/Getty contributors, who licence their photos through Thinkstock or iStockphoto, both owned by Getty Images. Photographers weren’t informed of this deal, and were of course in shock when iStock exclusive top photographer Sean Locke discovered the images on Google Drive. The chain reaction of responses in several threads on iStock and Microstockgroup is close to a revolution in stock photography. To say these photographers are outraged is an understatement. The outrage is over the fact that these images are licensed by Getty to Google in a deal that grants Google a licence to give these images away for free. All meta data and copyright is stripped from the images and everyone can stick them into a Google document. But these images have a resolution of 1,066 x 1,600, some are even bigger, and you can right click and download them to your hard drive. No restrictions. 1.6 to 2.5 megapixel images are big enough to be used in a lot of different projects. I could easily go to Google, get one of the images, and start putting them on mouse mats, mugs, or adds and webpages, etc., you name it.

Apparently lots of these images come from iStock’s Vetta collection and other higher priced collections at Getty. These images are normally purchased for 100 dollar per download. Guess what the photographer got paid for having their image licensed to Google, available for free download to their 425 million users? 12 dollar. Come again. 12 dollar. Yes, 12 dollar. Some photographers are even mentioning they got paid 6 dollar. What’s in it for Getty? The word is 240.000 dollar, but that number is unconfirmed. You might think that’s a nice number, but for giving away 5000 images, its an insult to everyone in the stock photo industry. Top photographers on iStock would sell an image for 20.000 dollar in a distribution deal like this one, yet they got $12 in this Getty/Google deal. RM agencies such as Getty and Alamy have their own online pricing tools for their images on sale. To give you an idea of what a Royalty Managed (RM) licence would normally cost at Getty for a once off  limited licence;  $3.390 per licence. So the fact all hell broke loose is quite understandable.

There have been some developments over the last few days since this so called ‘scam’ was revealed. Its starting to get momentum on the internet amongst bloggers, photographers and other stock agencies. More blogs are appearing everywhere on the subject and it seems this Getty mess up is going in the direction of the Instagram revolt.

For many years photographers have been shafted by the stock photo agencies, constantly lowering the royalties paid to contributors. iStock  has a bad rep already when it comes to royalties as they pay as low as 15% to the photographer and keep a whooping 85% themselves. There has been outrage over the years over the ever increasing prices for images on iStock. Another considered bad move from iStock was when they introduced their notorious RC system which basically makes it impossible for contributors to ever get a higher royalty as the levels of sales they need to achieve are just ridiculous. I guess all the anger has been building up over the years and with the latest move to squeeze even more out of their struggling contributors they have pushed them to the edge and the pot is boiling over. It was the deal that broke the camels back and it is my understanding that D-Day has been announced by the photographers.

A camera for Photography with big eye

D-Day stands for Deactivation Day, meaning iStock contributors will start mass deactivating their images on iStock. The fight of David against Goliath has begun. One photographer can do little, many photographers can achieve just that what they want to get out of  iStock and Getty, to stop the industry leader from fucking them over and over. The tally as it stands is that on February the 2nd, 2013 over 15.000 images will be deactivated, with some people already deactivating the images now. Over 1.600 images have been deactivated, and apparently slowing down the growth of the iStock library. This time these furious photographers mean business, many of them also ‘dropping their crown’. Dropping the crown is iStock slang, for dropping their exclusivity with iStock. Their reasoning behind this is that it is no use to be exclusive when your photos are given away for free on the internet.

It will be interesting to see how this is going to progress. In the several forums it is mentioned that some photographers are talking to lawyers. There was even mention of a class act lawsuit. According to Mr. Erin, an iStock employee, this deal is legit and within their own ToS, signed by all photographers submitting their images to iStock. Here is what he has to say on the deal:

We’ve heard you, and we’ve met with Google and are working with them to refine the implementation which we believe will address some of the concerns raised over the past several days–including copyright ownership. 
Implementation aside, our goal is to do the best deals for Getty Images, iStockphoto and our contributors for the more than one million customers we service on an annual basis. 
We want to stress that we realize the importance of copyright law, compliance and enforcement to our collective futures. Getty Images is a leader within our industry in advancing these ideas – including active participation in the legislative and government regulatory processes with numerous governing bodies around copyright issues. 

Then followed by a list of bullet points with some administration details about this deal with Google Drive. It seems this is only adding to the anger of the community as they will not take any bullshit from iStock any longer.

Will this latest move be the downfall of  iStock? Will this blow over in the end? It all depends on how iStock and Getty re going to respond on this latest outcry from their contributors. If they will respond at all. I am hoping for a victory for the photographers involved. I am rooting for my ‘colleagues’, that’s for sure!

Stay tuned…

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog powered by WordPress!

Ronald 1950

This is my very first post. I would like to use this post to tell you why I started this blog and what I plan to do with it.

Basically I am fairly new to photography. I will tell more about how I got obsessed with clicking that shutter and more about myself and the history of Semmick Photo. Which is my artist name.

I also want to use my blog to promote and advertise myself, of course 🙂

I will be posting about what goes on in my life as photographer and be sharing tips, tricks, locations, awesome portfolios and basically everything that has got anything to do with creating images.

Hope to see you around.


Ronald aka Semmick Photo