Becoming a direct Getty Images contributor is almost impossible but with EyeEm it’s possible to do it. Find out if this Microstock agency is worth your time.
Selling your pictures is a very interesting idea to make money both for those who want to become full-time photographers and/or those who want to be digital nomads. But it’s also a good option for you if you want to make some extra money every month. Unfortunately, most photographers who approach the world of microstock through sites such as Shutterstock, Dreamstime or Adobe Stock have the wrong expectations, get discouraged, and quit after a short time.
Some people expect to make a lot of money in a short time but, as I have explained here, this is not possible. Still, others approach the microstock with little humility considering themselves the best photographers in the world just because they won some online photo contest. Obviously the microstock agencies have very different standards and the result is that after a brief period of enthusiasm they quit as well. Interestingly usually this category of “photographers” will blame the agencies of incompetence and will keep thinking that their pictures are amazing.
Then there’s a third category of photographers that I find really interesting: those who hate microstock because they think it’s unethical to sell photos for a few dollars (or cents) but then they give their pictures for free to some famous magazines just to brag about it. Or, even worse, they take part in contests where they have to pay a fee…
That being said, some time ago I talked about a site that offered a different approach to the traditional Microstock agencies: Imagebrief. Instead of uploading thousands of photos Imagebrief allowed you to receive customer requests directly via email. Despite the very good initial premise (50% commission and extremely high sales prices for the photos) unfortunately Imagebrief failed and went bankrupt.
Another agency I’m following with interest is EyeEm. I say with interest because in this case the premises are more than good: commissions of 50% and the possibility to sell your pictures also on Getty Images (as well as on Alamy).
It seems like a very good agency, but is it really that good? Is it worth trying it? Here are my opinions based on my experience with this agency.
Selling pictures on EyeEm: how does it work?
EyeEm wasn’t originally developed to work as a classic microstock website but was born as an App to sell the pictures taken with a smartphone. It’s now possible though to sell the pictures taken with a regular camera by uploading them via their website.
EyeEm is a mix between social media and a stock agency. You can take photos through the phone, edit them using the filters provided by the app and share them with your followers to get some likes (though as far as I understand they are completely useless to increase your sales). EyeEm defines itself as a network of professional photographers or, in other words, a network of people who want to make money by selling their pictures.
There are three ways to sell your pictures with EyeEm:
There are some briefs or “Missions” where the customer asks for specific images he needs.
There is a “Market” just like any other microstock agency where the customers can look for a picture browsing among the thousands of images in EyeEm’s database.
Finally there is the opportunity that perhaps most photographers are most interested in: selling your pictures on Getty Images. To be completely clear you won’t be able to upload your pictures directly to the Getty Images website but EyeEm will upload your approved images to Getty for you. It works in this way: once you uploaded your batch to EyeEm, the curators will choose the photos they think are most suitable, and then they will send you an email with the list of selected photos approved to be uploaded on Getty. Then if they are approved by Getty, after a while they appear on the Getty market. To summarize the steps are these:
- Upload your pictures on EyeEm
- Specify if you want to sell you images also on Getty
- After a while, you’ll get an email with a list of approved photos ready to be proposed to Getty
- If your pictures will be approved by Getty they will appear on their market (after an undisclosed period of time)
Selling your pictures on EyeEm: is it worth it?
As I said before, the premises seem very good and it could seem that selling photos with EyeEm is really a good opportunity. But is it really like that? Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- There are several “missions” but to be honest I’ve never participated in any. So I don’t know if this is really a good opportunity or not. If you have any more information let me know and I will be happy to add it to the post
- After opening the Market EyeEm worked very hard to increase the number of pictures in their database and I was able to sell quite a few pictures, so at least compared to Imagebrief I’d say that my impression of the EyeEm Market are more than positive
- An interesting thing is that you can now upload your pictures using various Cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox. If you regularly back up your files in the cloud, uploading hundreds of photos to EyeEm is really a matter of a few seconds. The limit for every batch of pictures uploaded is for now 50 photos so that’s a bit of a bummer but in this aspect EyeEm is far ahead of any other agency. Once the photos are imported the website automatically suggests a list of keywords that might be suitable for the photo. Unfortunately as you can often imagine keywords are not very accurate and for this reason I suggest you create them manually. I’m still curious to see how this technology will develop in the next few years
- The last aspect is in my opinion the most controversial. EyeEm promises to sell the photos on Getty and give you 50% of the sales. This is true but there’s one important detail that needs to be clarified: you’ll receive 50% of what Getty will pay EyeEm and usually, Getty Images pays its contributors 20% of the sale price. How much does EyeEm get from Getty Images for each photo sold? Is it more than the regular 20%? Unfortunately there is no way to tell. I asked them for this info, but they didn’t answer. So, assuming that the percentage Getty pays EyeEm is 20% (I honestly have no reason to believe otherwise), this means that you will earn 10% of the sale price on Getty Images. Some people might think that 10% is not much but is still not too bad since sales prices are often in the range of hundreds of dollars on Getty. I’m sorry to tell you that this is not the case: the prices you see on the websites are most of the time a marketing move since Getty Images gives very often as much as a 90% discount to its regular customers. This being said it’s definitely possible to earn money by selling your pictures on Getty via EyeEm, which is what I imagine you are most interested in. Just don’t expect to get rich.
To conclude, is selling photos with EyeEm a new opportunity or a total waste of time? Based on my experience I would say that it is a new opportunity but I’d also like to hear from you. Please leave your feedback in the comments.
If you are interested to know which is the best microstock agency check out this page.