18 Replies Latest reply on Jul 2, 2018 12:10 PM by fudyma71

    Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?

    Sherwood.Martinelli Level 1

      So, have had six sales...one would think I should be excited...I am not.


      Six sales each giving someone the right to use my image 500,000 times and I've not even made $4 yet...some sales have paid me as little as 35 cents, and my earnings on six sales is a meager $3.56   At this rate, I'll be dead and buried before I reach the $50 minimum required to get paid by Adobe Stock.  I loaded up 50 pics to give the service a try....I have over 50,000 images.


      Is it just me, or are others not satisfied with the profits splits, and lack of sales that provide a modicum of pricing that lets artists earn a living.  I ask, as I also belong to Viewbug, and they are encouraging us to join Adobe Stock, and not sure doing so is in the best interests of those who are on Viewbug.

        • 1. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
          MatHayward Adobe Employee

          Thanks for the feedback. To answer your direct question "Is Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?"...the answer is no.


          There is limitless opportunity with your content now available to millions of customers and more joining every day. To succeed as a contributor does however require hard work and great content. This is definitely not a get rich quick scheme and you will likely need more than 50 images in your portfolio to find success. The business model is based on volume. While some individual commissions can be perceived as low, especially when you are only getting a handful a week or month, those sub-dollar commissions start to add up as your build your portfolio and find dozens or even hundreds of sales each day.


          The secret to success isn't actually a secret. You need to create dynamic content that appeals to a diverse range of customers and you need to do so on a consistent basis. Upload the content and use effective keywords to accurately describe what is in your content so it can be found. We are working very hard to make Adobe Stock the most appealing agency in the world for both customers and contributors. The ball is in your court to take advantage of that effort.


          I wish you the best of luck!


          Mat Hayward

          3 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
            ricky336 Adobe Community Professional

            The market tends to want happy, smiling people doing something - so if you have a lot of shots without people, then I don't think sales will be as high. I tend not to shoot happy, smiling people - I don't like this type of photography - therefore my sales are not so high.

            But, I'll continue to upload for the time being. Contributing here though does give a chance for other people to see what I do and someone may actually like my style- who knows. Each to their own. The potential is there - just might take awhile!

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
              stephen302 Level 1

              Do people displaying lots of shots of "happy, smiling people" get model releases from every one of their such subjects? I spontaneously shoot really good outdoor people pics whether someone knows that I am shooting them or not, but I don't have time to ask strangers for model releases. When I saw how amazing my own people pics were, I became dismayed that I had to hide such pics from the public eye. Ever since I shared my own local Labor Day pics, which included lots of people from whom I obtained no releases, my own local Labor Day parade has never happened again. No one has ever said anything to me about such, but my guess is that I am the only reason for the end of my own local Labor Day parade. I am not, however, really the Grinch who stole Labor Day. Actually, my own people pics are really nice, not really mean at all.

              • 4. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                ricky336 Adobe Community Professional

                stephen302  wrote


                Do people displaying lots of shots of "happy, smiling people" get model releases from every one of their such subjects?

                Most probably yes! Or else they would not be able to sell them on stock sites like Adobe!

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                  Sherwood.Martinelli Level 1

                  Dear Mat:


                  First, thank you for the reply...does not really answer my questions, but sounds more like a pep talk.   So, a few more questions, or perhaps suggestions on making it easier to find some solid/concrete answers to some questions, or perhaps guidance to make a useful Newbie Guidebook on getting the most out of our relationship with Adobe Stock.


                  1.  I know that people purchasing a license to use my work all seem to be generating an income to me of less than one dollar for a license that lets them use my image 500,000 times.  What is Adobe selling the license for, or what is my percentage as the artist/photographer who created and uploaded the picture?


                  2.  You state being successful here requires hard work, and went on further to say 50 pictures is an inadequate representation if one wants over time to develop Adobe Stock into a viable income stream.  Perhaps some guidance to new members of the community is in order here?   IE...what is an adequate group of photographs?  100, 1000, ten thousand?  A secondary question...Viewbug is encouraging members to join Adobe Stock...has Adobe considered figuring out a way for us to move our Viewbug pictures over to Adobe stock...IE, my current account there has over 1100 images, and according to my stats I am always in the top 30 or above when it comes to traffic.   Is there a way we can BULK upload our photographs, and then go in as time allots to properly tag them. 


                  Telling me the ball is in my court is not really an answer...it's like tossing me the keys to a car with zero instruction...every car I have ever bought comes with an owners manual...maybe Adobe should think of creating an easy to understand owners manual that people can read and when finished feel as if they have a reasonable understanding of what it takes to be successful on the site.


                  Dynamic content is subjective...I have a lot of dynamic content, but it might not be the right subject matter.  IE, if as one poster in this thread has suggested most of your clients are looking for just happy smiling people, that's not where my personal lens gravitates to...having a better understanding of what your customers are looking for when shopping images would give us as artists a much clearer vision of what would or would not work for us in uploading our images.  If say only one percent of your clients gravitate toward a subject theme that constitutes a large body of my own work, spending hours uploading, tagging hundreds or thousands of picture in that genre would probably be an exercise in futility. 


                  Any way, thank you for your answers and quick response.



                  • 6. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                    Sherwood.Martinelli Level 1

                    Thanks for your thoughts...like you, don't have a lot of pictures of happy smiling people doing something, and don't see that changing much.   I like birds, animals, or rusty cars sitting out in a abandoned field full of tall grasses and weeds.  I'd just like to understand the financial splits with Adobe, and have a general idea/list of things to do to potentially create an income stream here...IE, Mat telling me 50 pictures is inadequate representation is not overly helpful, where as something like "Adobe recommends/suggests that your personal portfolio should have at least 1000 images gives one a much better idea of how much work one needs to do to get off the proverbial launch pad.

                    1 person found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                      Sherwood.Martinelli Level 1

                      I use the "Reasonable expectation of privacy rule...if I am shooting at say an outdoor festival, not going to carry around several hundred releases.   IF sites like Adobe want model releases where one is clearly not necessary, then they can reject my upload.

                      • 8. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                        MatHayward Adobe Employee

                        This is great feedback and I really appreciate the discussion. I will do my best to answer all of your questions. If I missed something please remind me and I'll respond asap. I am traveling this week (PPE in NYC..if you are there stop by and say hi!) so the responses will likely be slower than normal. My apologies in advance.


                        1.) Yes, the standard license does allow a print run of up to 500,000 copies. The cost for the license varies based on the number of images the customer commits to purchase. The more they buy, the less the cost is per individual download. Standard licenses range from $9.99 for a single download to $199.99 for 750 downloads. The commission for contributors is 33% of the price paid. There is a minimum payout in place for those large subscriptions where the individual download price is fairly low. Later I will share with you a link that has information about how payments are calculated and processed.


                        2.) How many photos does it take to be successful? I like to answer that question with a question..."How long is a piece of string?" I'm not being snarky it's just an impossible question to answer. It will of course vary based on the quality of the content, the relevancy to the current demands of customers and how effective the keywording is. It also depends on your definition of success as a stock photographer. If you are looking for some supplemental income to pay for some random camera gear every now and then you may be able to meet your goals with a small portfolio. There are contributors that upload a few pictures a year, they make a few bucks and they are cool with that. There are also those that look at shooting stock as a full time job, they are organized and strategic and upload thousands of solid stock images each year and they make significant income. The average contributor falls somewhere between that. I recommend new contributors set a goal of 1,000 unique images. Unique being the key word there..you can't submit hundreds of images of the same sunset and expect to see a significant financial windfall. Be intentional about shooting stock. Be selective and submit only the best of each shoot.


                        3.) We do have an "owners manual" so to speak. Our learn and support pages have recently been updated and will provide you with a thorough range of information: tagproducts_SG_STOCK-CONTRIBUTOR_i18nKeyHelppagetitle


                        In addition, I have created a series of videos that show my workflow in setting up a shoot, executing the shoot, editing, uploading, indexing and submitting. The videos can be seen in the following blog posts: 


                        From Shoot to Sale: Part 1 | Creative Cloud blog by Adobe


                        From Shoot to Sale: Part 2 | Creative Cloud blog by Adobe

                        1 person found this helpful
                        • 9. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                          jimac1953 Level 1

                          This is an interesting discussion. I hope folks keep it up. This is my story so far.


                          I've been uploading since August 6, about 12 weeks of so counting time to get the first uploads going. I have 715 photos in my portfolio and I've had 293 rejects. I've redone about a dozen images that were rejected for technical reasons and that I could reprocess and had them accepted. I've sold 20 photos and made $15.04. Sales seem to be streaky. I don't sell anything for awhile and then sell  2 or 3 quickly. I've sold one photo 3 times and another 2 times. I think I'm going to hold off on the push to upload for awhile and try and go back and look at titles and key words. When I started I was hoping to make enough to buy printer ink or maybe a new filter or two. In my wildest dreams I hoped I could buy a new lens. At the rate I've seen sales I'll be surprised if I even get paid more than once or maybe twice a year.


                          I do appreciate Adobe giving us amateurs a chance to upload photos for sale. I'm coming to the opinion that stock makes money for folks or businesses that can upload 100 or so photos a week and maintain that level over time. I have a feeling if your uploads slow down, so will your exposure and sales.


                          My biggest frustration has been the sometimes capricious nature of acceptance of images. I think I've done better than some, but for the life of me I can't figure out what the reviewers look for. The biggest upload I had was around 100 images and around ninety got accepted. Another time I submitted 20 or 30 and got only 4 to 8 accepted. I've had images rejected for being too similar yet when I look at other peoples portfolios they have images accepted that only vary by what looks like cropping or very small changes in perspective.

                          There are others, but it is Adobe's business and it's up to them to accept the photos they want. I do appreciate the chance. I wish it was just easier to figure out and that I could count on the work being consistently worth it.


                          Anyway, I told myself I'd give it 6 months and strive for 1000+ images. I'm going to stick to that and see how it goes. I'd really like to hear how thing are going for other folks.



                          1 person found this helpful
                          • 10. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                            Sherwood.Martinelli Level 1

                            Hi Jim


                            Thank you for your contribution to this discussion...715 successful uploads, and assuming here you spent at least one minute selecting and uploading each one.   If correct, that means you have at least 12 hours of work invested into your goal of reaching 1,000 successful uploads, and your income stream for that is only $15.04...just over a buck an hour.  Factor in rejected pictures, and well under a buck an hour.   Be curious to see if sales on what you have continue and or gain some momentum. 


                            Looking around the site a bit, am noticing that some artists are given more attention, featured in ways that see their images moving much better than others.  The proverbial haves verse the have nots, or in other words, the privilege of being one of the beautiful people. I was a potter/sculptor for some 20 years, and through those years one of the reasons why my sales went up over time had to do with the space I was assigned in certain shows...a booth right by the entrance is a lot better than being assigned a booth in a dark hallway on the way to the bathroom.   Internet sites in some ways are much the same.  I have over 1,000 images over on Viewbug, been a member for a few years now, and yet have never been given any positioning that would get me notice thus more views.   It is this lack of receiving any real perks that saw me fall back to just being a free member over there instead of a paying member.  I am sure if some of us received some of the premium positioning that certain artists get we would see greatly increased sales, but sadly most of us are I am afraid never going to see Adobe Stock be any kind of a secondary income stream.  Would be an interesting experiment for Adobe to take a few of us from the great gray masses, and give us the same attention some of their big names in the stable get, and see if we are suddenly far more marketable than they had assumed. 


                            Another issue of concern...most purchasers of Stock Photography are the proverbial BIG BOYS who are purchasing licenses in bulk, which in turn greatly lowers their buy in costs...that might be fine for those artists who are selling thousands of licenses a month, but for the little guys, that bulk discount means instead of us say making 99 cents means we are making like 35 cents per image with the purchaser having a right to use said image 500,000 times.   I think Adobe Stock should base our commissions on a similar volume program...someone coming in who buys in bulk, and snagging a really great ART PIECE for 35 cents is just wrong in my book.


                            As too what Adobe does or does not accept...yes, it is their site, but it is own work, our artistic expression.   One of the things I like about Viewbug...I can upload ANYTHING I WANT, and then over a period of time I can go in and look at my pics by their popularity...most hits.   That tells me what people like and/or don't like.   As much as I might like a certain shot, if over a period of months it has gotten almost no views, no likes, no awards, then its time that I hit the delete button and take it out of my portfolio.   Adobe should consider something similar.


                            I also don't like Adobe policy on people...if I am at a festival (I often am) on the public streets taking pictures of the various and assorted people, they have no reasonable expectation of privacy and almost every photographer I know is not going to run around asking for releases when none are needed.   I have a great portfolio of B&W pictures, most with people in them, all taken in public, and already know that uploading would just be a major disappointment as Adobe would be asking for releases.   Do they do that so that the beautiful people (IE, Models) are what the viewing public sees, instead of real life people? 


                            People often ask me why I do not do more to monetize my photography...Adobe perhaps paints an all too clear picture of why I and others don't or can't.  We are one of the only products in the world where those wanting to sell our work don't do much of anything except rake in profits...IE, as a potter my sales reps BUSTED THEIR *** to make my work, and thus my sales a huge success story. Adobe only cares about volume, the who that uploads their images just a nameless, faceless contributor to the bulk, their efforts for the most part reserved for their so called show horses in the stable.


                            I have tens of thousands of images, so over the next month or so will follow Mat's suggestion of building up a portfolio of 1000 images, then leave them parked for awhile to see if things pick up...if not, will write the whole experience off as another failed experiment in my quest to earn a living off of my images.

                            • 11. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                              ricky336 Adobe Community Professional

                              Not only does it take time to select, upload and key word, but also contribute to these forums

                              I'm nearing 400 pictures, and have been uploading since near the beginning of this year. Sales have also been sporadic!

                              It depends on what you shoot, and how many sales you get. I think we all have a chance, however, I realise some people or rather their photos may be more popular than others - and this may be because of their content - as I said with an addition 'beautiful, happy smiling people! I say this with tongue in cheek though!


                              I actually think the policy on getting model releases is a good and fair thing. It is hard to go anyway these days without someone pointing a camera or smartphone at you. And if it is going to be used for commercial business and you can be recognised - should your image be used without your permission? We already have big brother watching us (again tongue in cheek).


                              Although somewhat frustrating, I think it is good that there is a certain criteria for images being accepted. I also can't work out why some pictures are rejected - technical error - what error?? I shrug my shoulders and move on. If I think the image is worth it I may try to find the error, correct and resubmit - success! Other times it's not worth it!


                              I think it's a case of swings and roundabouts - advantages and disadvantages of contributing here - and microstock sites!

                              Adobe don't need to 'bust their guts'. There are plenty of people like us who want to upload their images to make a few bucks! - or try to!

                              Photography has changed a lot since the film days, and now again with mobile technology. Lightroom CC for example

                              It's a brave new world!! The potential is unlimited now - (or is just for the few).

                              1 person found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                                ShutterbugFotos Level 1

                                I also am wondering the same thing.  I have sold only two pictures for a whopping 18 cents each.  Eighteen cents!?  What does a picture sell for that only generates 18 cents for the photographer?  I am also curious as to why some pictures are rejects for "artifacts" the picture is clear, in focus, and the color and lighting is correct. 


                                I am more of a landscape photographer than "smiling happy shiny people" photographer.  I do have a few "selfies" 

                                • 13. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                                  v.poth Level 5


                                  I think it always depends on which requirements you have as a supplier how steep the success curve is...

                                  As an industry expert and professional photographer, illustrator, etc., you naturally have the best preconditions to be able to offer good image material that is requested by customers. You will be able to generate sales from the very beginning and will be able to increase his sales very quickly with more uploads. Due to his professional experience, he knows exactly what he has to produce and how to meet the customer's demand very precisely. Take a look at the portfolios of Anja Kaiser, Christian Hillebrand or the well-known Lassedesignen.


                                  The amateur photographer/hobby illustrator etc. with private experience in the creation of pictures acquires his knowledge of the stock industry, the necessary skills, and the customer demand in the beginnings first of all himself. This takes different lengths of time depending on the learning speed and talent. Some of the hobby suppliers manage to become full-time pole professionals within a few years and some of them make a good income during this period. Some people hardly generate any income despite a growing portfolio. Here, however, we are talking about a period of years and not weeks or months that is necessary.

                                  The less knowledge you have, the more difficult it is to be successful here, I think. As a hobby provider, consider the professional and semi-professional competition you face here. This is a professional stock agency that wants to offer its clients professional stock images.


                                  I think, as Mat already remarked, the increase in sales is already dependent on the quantity of the picture offer, but this depends strongly on the quality, uniqueness and corresponding to the branch of the saleability of the pictures how fast and how high it turns out.

                                  A thousand images in the portfolio can earn 20 credits per month, but also 1000 or more.

                                  You really can't answer this question in general, but you can generally say that the better the technical requirements, the more suitable imagery is already available and the steeper the learning curve, the faster the sales increase.

                                  Generally speaking, I think it is a rocky path that can take different lengths of time depending on the preconditions to achieve the success one has expected and feels appropriate for oneself according to one's engagement and ambitions.




                                  2 people found this helpful
                                  • 14. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                                    thomas_foldes Level 1

                                    Adobe is microstock like other sites and it's a numbers game. You need a quality portfolio of varied subjects in significant enough quantity to determine your return per image (RPI) and download (RPD) before you really judge/project potential earnings. For me, 1000 plus images (populated for a year) was my benchmark quantity to determine RPI, RPD, and site viability. As a bonus, that also set my upload target based on what I need submitted and accepted to estimate earnings per year. Again, it's only an estimate, but over the course of a year it's generally pretty close. Don't get discouraged at the beginning- microstock is a marathon not a sprint and IMHO... You have to upload small batches multiple times every week. As an example, after reviewing last year- my goal is 100 new images a week 20 uploads per day. It's the long game and there is no quick money to be made here, but it is what it is.

                                    3 people found this helpful
                                    • 15. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                                      anitamarie Level 1

                                      I completely agree 100% with everything you have said here. I have had similar issues with Adobe Stock and I am a newbie here as well. I have my work uploaded and accepted all the time on Shutterstock and I make decent money there as a newbie. But with Adobe I feel like they reject so much of my stuff. It becomes very discouraging. Maybe the clientele that Adobe has is quite different from Shutterstock, I don't know. But thank goodness there are people out there who feel the same way I do! Thanks for writing what you wrote here so adequately and succinctly. Good luck to us all!

                                      • 16. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                                        alicjag Level 1

                                        I found this discussion very interesting and decided to give some of my thoughts to this topic.


                                        In my opinion, there are two types of photographers in general.

                                        The first one is the photographer as a person providing a service and the other one is the photographer as the artist.


                                        Of course sometimes one person can be both.


                                        I think, a hobby photographer is most of the time the artist type. He/She consider his/her images as a work of art. A hobby photographer values his pictures much higher. He makes often unique pictures and do not have many of them unlike a service photographer. Because of that it hurts a hobby photographer to see his pictures sold at this low price.


                                        A service photographer has more options and possibilities to “produce” many, many pictures. He has better equipment, a studio, he has a network, and he can easily book a model for a photo session and “produce” pictures. So for service photographer there is no problem to have thousands of images in his portfolio.


                                        I’ve joined as a contributor today. I wanted to test, if my images will get some attention at all.

                                        I’m a realist, so I know it won’t be easy or I get disappointed very quickly.

                                        By reading some of the posts here in the contributor forum the spark of enthusiasm is rather fading. But if I don’t try, I will never know.


                                        The other topic is the amount of rejected images. Adobe Stock seems to me more restrictive in comparison to other agencies. The pictures needs to be all perfect, sharp, with no grain and with correct exposure.  But sometimes the imperfection is making a picture interesting, is making it a work of art. So, I’m not sure if stock agencies are really the right place for hobby artists.


                                        Or if you look at the “produced” like in a factory pictures of those “happy, smiling people”.

                                        These are mainstream pictures to me with no value. They are perfect, from the technical and photographic point of view. But there is no soul in those pictures.


                                        The problem is, the customers out there want such pictures today, and they want them for a lowest price possible.

                                        1 person found this helpful
                                        • 17. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                                          rrosen1@maine.rr.com Level 1

                                          I am 75 and a late comer to stock photography. I am not new to photography.   My portfolio contains about 35 images and I have sold 6.  Obviously my goal is to add many more images but using the correct key words and title along with the quality and subject that people are looking for I have been "successful and I can use that as a guide as to what subjects I should be adding to my portfolio.  I hope this is helpful to others who are starting out.

                                          1 person found this helpful
                                          • 18. Re: Is the Adobe Stock Photo program a rip off for artists?
                                            fudyma71 Level 1

                                            Generally speaking, if your picture contains people but the individual people could be replaced or removed (when they serve as a background or when it's a crowd etc), you don't need a release. But if it is a specific event in a specific place (for example: Coachella vs impossible to identify festival crowd) you can sell it "for editorial use only".