Shutterstock Review

21 September 2012 Stock Photo Agencies Last update: 18 December 2015

Details | Website

Shutterstock is the leading microstock agency due to their specific business model - customers can buy a subscription plan which allows them to download 25 images per day. You will be surprised how many image downloads you have, even if you initially get only 25c per download. It will increase to 33c once you reach $500.

To become Shutterstock contributor you have to visit their registration page, sign up for a free account and send 10 of your best images, of which only 1 have to be accepted. You should be very selective in choosing your images for initial upload in order to send your best artwork only - your images should be of the highest technical quality and vary in subject too. And also be patient as it may take a while to hear back from Shutterstock. If you are unsuccessful for the first time, shoot new images and apply again - you will finally get there.

If you are already accepted as Shutterstock contributor, the approval process for your newly submitted photos takes usually 2-4 days. The site is very user friendly, including its online and FTP upload system. As for the other stock photography websites, new uploads boost sales of your entire portfolio, encouraging contributors to upload consistently and creating the situation known in microstock as "feedeing the beast". Their search engines make new photos sell well while images that are not doing well in the first week or so will probably have very few downloads in the future.

Shutterstock have recently launched a new site feature which allows contributors to create public sets of images in order to market their portfolio. You can group your stock photos in 10 sets, add some information about yourself (profile picture, bio, equipment, website url, etc.), as well as any social links you may think it is useful to provide.

On the top of their own agency, in 2009 they acquired BigStockPhoto who in 2010 changed their name to BigStock, redesigned the website, and what is the most important, sales improved significantly in the last couple of months.

Do you take photos with your smartphone? Would you like to upload them to Shutterstock directly from your mobile device? Read our latest article Go Mobile and find out more about Mobile Apps designed by the major stock photography agencies.

Our verdict:

If you are a photographer taking stock photography seriously you should contribute to Shutterstock, as for many artists it is number 1 or at least in their top 3 in terms of stock photo sales and financial reward. Some people may not be happy with such low royalty per image, but believe us, daily amount of downloads should satisfy your expectations, and there is always a chance to sell you image with pay as you go credits for $2.48, or if you are lucky, with the Extended Licence, which will add another $28 to your account... or even 80... So, how does it sound?

Shutterstock Details
LocationNew York, USA
Stock Media FilesOver 60 Million Royalty-Free Stock Photos, Vectors, Videos and Music Tracks
How to applySubmit 10 sample images for review - only 1 has to be approved to become Shutterstock contributor.
Image sizeMinimum 4.0 MP (approximately 2400 x 1800 px)
Media acceptedPhoto, Vector, Video, Audio
LicensesStandard License and Enhanced License
Image pricingFrom €159 for 1 Year Subscription Plan or from €39 for 5 downloads on demand
Contributor ratesImages (standard license) - from 25c per download. It will increase to 33c once you reach $500, to 36c once you reach $3,000, and up to 38c once you earn $10,000.
Video clips - 30% of the sale price.
Enhanced License - from 20% to 30% (depending on your lifetime earnings as for the standard license.
Minimum payout$35 (higher can be set by contributor)
Payment methodsPayPal/MoneyBookers, Cheque
Referral program$0.04 per each image downloaded (up to 2 years), 10% per each clip downloaded (in the 1st year), or 20% of the first customer payment (up to $200)
Upload methodsActiveX Webform, FTP
IPTC Data supportYes
CurrenciesUS Dollar
Language versionsChinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Shutterstock Cool StuffShutterstock Free App, Shuttertweet, Facebook Connect, Mini-Gallery
Download Releases - Multi-languageAdult Model Release
Minor Model Release
Property Release

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