Mid-Holiday Stock Submission Workflow

I’m halfway through my holiday in the beautiful south of France (Cote d’Azur). The weather has been kind with a soft late-summer light doing wonders. I’m so far quite happy with the shots I’ve captured and today I’ve been post-processing, keywording and thinking about where to submit such images to maximise commissions. These have been broadly in line with my stock photography preparation for the trip, which I’ve written here.

I believe that thinking strategically about where to submit your images within all stock photography segments is the most effective way to combat diminishing returns in Microstock.

“Patience, young grasshopper”

I used to play a lot of live poker and I remember a regular used to say that to me, “patience, young grasshopper”…probably because I was being too aggressive! Anyway, in terms of stock photography, patience is the key to carefully post-process and select which agencies. Take your time to go through each image and think about which types of buyers the image should cater. Also, with more experience you should more astute at identifying premium images vs generic images.

Where I’ve decided to submit my images and why

In total, over the past three days, I’ve captured just shy of 300 images (and one video) of which I’ve shortlisted 164. Some I’ve left for later as I’ll do some extensive post-processing to turn an editorial into a commercial image. I’ve categorised those 164 images into four distinct folders, which I’ll explain why shortly and illustrate with three examples from each category:

Premium images go to Robert Harding

These are what I consider to be the crème de la crèmeFuck off if you think I’m submitting these to Microstock to be licensed for 36 cents / download! These premium images will go to Robert Harding, a specialist boutique travel agency. Whether they’ll be exclusive as RM or RF will be up to the photo editors at RH. They do allow editorials, but I lean towards submitting them only commercial images (which is extremely difficult in travel photography) as they’re much higher priced.

RH are extremely picky and reject something like 80% of my images. When they do reject a batch, I’ll place them on Alamy as Rights-Managed. That work for me. Even though RH carry out the keywording in-house, I’ll still go ahead and keyword them using the hack Keyword.io keyword tool due to their high-rejection rate (to avoid double-work).

In this batch there are 36 images out of the 164 (22%), which is probably only 8 or so will be accepted. Here’s three examples of three premium images:

Antibes, Cote d'Azur, France (day 3)-4

Long exposure of young people drinking in Antibes, Cote d'Azur, France

Picturesque small alleyway in Antibes, Cote d'Azur, France

Editorials at Alamy

As explained in an earlier blog post, the bulk of Alamy customers are purchasers of editorial content for UK media. The south of France features heavily in such media since many Brits visit there and/or are expats. Just read the Guardian newspaper’s travel section you’ll see many images featured of the south of France, south of Spain and Portugal.

This is the largest batch with 75 images out of the 164 (46%). 75% of such images will be placed as RM. Here’s a small selection:

Provencal Market in Antibes, Cote D'Azur, France
Night market in Antibes
An African man sells straw hats on the beach in Antibes, France
Friendly Senegalese hat-seller
A man uses a metal detector on a beach overlooking Antibes, Cote d'Azur, France
Looking for treasure with the Antibes Town Centre in the background

Artsy images to Arcangel Images 

This is another market I submit to, as part on my business strategy to diversify my images across many stock photo market segments – see a previous blog post on Opportunities Outside of Microstock.

I submit such images to Arcangel Images exclusively and as RM to be licensed on covers of thriller novels. There is also the option to submit as RM non-exclusive within their “NX” collection, but these tend to be licensed for much less.

Like RH, Arcangel is extremely picky with which types of images are accepted within their collection. The rejected pile may go on Microstock depending on the image (but with grain and excessive shadows removed since such images would probably not pass the technical checks).

I also submit such artsy fine art images to Fine Art America, a large Print on Demand agency – I’ve written another blog post on them which you can access here. 

This batch has 13 out of 164 images (8%). Here’s three such spooky images:

Antibes, France-11

Antibes, Cote d'Azur, France (day 3)-10Antibes, Cote d'Azur, France (day 3)-68

Microstock get my left-overs (to be likely licensed for a few quarters)

The remainder of my images will go to Microstock agencies, notably Shutterstock and Adobe Stock / Fotolia. I’ll also go ahead and upload these to Alamy (RF) as if I won’t complain if a get a higher-priced sale.

Honestly, these are the left-over commercial images which tend to be of a more generic nature or images which are featured heavily already, as you’ll see. Notice how I have not submitted any editorials to Shutterstock, instead opting to license them at Alamy (either as RM or RF).

Even if I’m allowed to duplicate such RF images on Alamy and Microstock, I choose not to since it may diminish the image’s value if the buyer does choose to shop around for a cheaper price. This is a sneaky suspicion I have and I’m looking into more facts to see whether this is indeed the case.

The remainder “junk pile” consists of 40 images (24%). Here’s such three more generic images:

Young brunette woman (25-30) stretching while overlooking the sea in the Summer
A generic image depicting a “spiritual” theme. Micros may reject this for the sun flare and lighting though. Worst case scenario I’ll submit this to Alamy with a model release
Bright blue shutters with a lamp post on a rustic wall in Provence, France
I really debated with myself whether this would go under the premium folder or not and in the end I opted out to submit this to Microstock for multiple downloads. It’s too generic of an image to be premium in my opinion
A young man fishes in Antibes, Cote d'azur, France
Accepted at Shutterstock as a commercial image. A beach in Antibes in the background on a beautiful sunny afternoon


The above is just my take on how submission of stock images works for me. It’s a constant work in progress to know which types of images are better place on one agency or another.

I would love to hear how you carry out your workflow and if you have any tips – please comment below!

I’ll be back later with an update on which images were accepted and why and more importantly if there’s any sales.


Until next time!








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