Stock Photography Platforms – Part 2

stock photography platforms abstract orange light table nature

Here’s the coveted part 2 of the article started here. The following stock photography platforms will be reviewed: 123RF, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock.stock photography 123rf homepage website


This website runs a little bit under my pickiness radar, which can only be a good thing. In my mind, it’s a solid platform that delivers with good quality. Maybe it even deserves a little bit more love than it gets (doesn’t seem to be one of the most popular). While it doesn’t feature multi-selection (boo!), on the other hand, it doesn’t require categories either, which is one of the major reasons why multi-selection is necessary in the first place. Unlike all the other platforms, 123RF has a submit button PER IMAGE. Which ends up ruining a bit of the time we saved not inputting categories.

They’re one of the slowest platforms at validating your photos, especially in second iterations. Pro tip: send them an email every time you have a new batch and they usually do it in the same day!

They don’t send notifications when your photos are licensed. BUT they do have a very cool new contributor dashboard and statistics (which they actually needed). Its mobile app is decent. 123RF has a very good toleration for validating pictures, something which is enhanced by the existence of an editorial section. All pictures are automatically eligible for editorial if they don’t pass regular validation, which is great. They also feature model releases which are independent of the context, so the same release can be used for many shots (as long as the model is the same). There’s also online support most of the time. Unfortunately, the lowest contributor tiers grant you the lowest income of all stock photography platforms analyzed.

stock photography shutterstock homepage website


Together with GettyImages, Shutterstock seems to be the most popular platform around. And it’s deserved. I do have much experience submitting for Shutterstock, but they’re a pain in the ass regarding content submission. Not only do they have a long list of reasons to reject your photos, that list has a lot of flaws. I’ve spent a sad amount of time trialing-and-testing their reviewing teams and all of these rejection reasons. Some of the reasons can be overlooked in future submissions, so if you don’t agree with the results, just submit again and you may be lucky. I won’t dig any longer on this subject, but there’s a lot that could be said about this (maybe a future article). They’re fast to review though!

Shutterstock also doesn’t send notifications for licensed photos, but they do have, hands down, the best mobile app. Their dashboard is amazing (recently revamped) and they also feature a very good blog and newsletter for those who are actual stock photographers. Their library management system is a bit messy if you DON’T use their album concept. But I guess you SHOULD use it, as you can organize your content more easily (a bit like GettyImages with their batches). They’re not very generous when it comes to contributor compensation (minimum royalty-speaking).

stock photography adobestock adobe homepage website

Adobe Stock

As I’ve mentioned before, Adobe Stock works together with Fotolia. More specifically, it seems like its parent platform. And since recently Fotolia has been redirecting users to Adobe Stock, an effective merge is probably afoot. For someone such as me, who moved from Fotolia to Adobe Stock, the improvements are immense. Your royalties are now expressed in currency and the submission system is much more advanced (similar to ESP).

Not only that, but they have an innovative AI-powered keyword suggestion feature. Which is good in of itself, but of course not perfect yet, so you end up deleting many of them. The feature doesn’t work if you have pre-inserted keywords (through IPTC), so that’s smart. However, their keyword list is ordered, which is another innovation, albeit one I do not welcome. For people who submit their pictures to many stock photography platforms or pre-insert keywords, surely keywords will not have an order that makes sense, and if they do, it’s alphabetical.

Their contributor dashboard needs a serious revamp and their mobile app is non-existent (what exists is part of the Creative Cloud brand, so very vague). Overall, and considering the fact that Adobe Stock includes the word “Adobe”, its contributor tools needs to step up a little bit to be on par with their world-class software.



This is an honorable mention to 500px, which I’ve used in the past. I only experienced it for a short amount of days, so I won’t talk about what I don’t know. Which by the way would be positive, because the platform seems very good. What I do know is this. They mix contributor and client accounts, which means you may have to pay for the service even if you don’t want to buy anything. As you can guess, different tiers lead to tier limitations, which brings me to 500px’s largest flaw. The free tier only lets 7 pictures to be submitted every week. This is a recent change, by the way. The previous cap was 20, which albeit very low too, I had accepted already. But for people with hundreds of pictures of stock catalogs, it’s not nearly enough.


Yet, I’m not done with stock photography platforms, and soon you’ll know why.



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