Great news! After a two-year wait, Stocksy United is finally accepting new contributors. The reason why I’m excited is that they’re a great Midstock Agency and I think I may just have a good chance to get in this time round.
What’s so great about Stocksy?
Stocksy emerged about 5 years ago with a completely new concept in stock photography, during a time when contributors were demanding greater representation. Here are some of the key points behind Stocksy’s ethos:
- Stocksy is a co-operative: They’re owned collectively by both contributing artists and members. This is crucial since the contributors have a say on key business decisions in the same way that large shareholders have voting rights in public companies. It also creates a bond/community feel, supposedly;
- Highly-curated galleries: Contributors showcase their work within their own high-curated galleries, which is reviewed by a team of editors. It goes without saying that standards are extremely high with frequent rejections (oops, I just said it), after all the clients are deep pocketed corporate-types and want the best for the buck;
- Top commission levels: Stocksy pays contributors a 50% commission on standard license sales and 75% on extended license sales, considerably higher than its competitors. Considering that images are licensed for $200+ and not for a few subscription quarters, this is great news. High rates create a sustainable business model, at a time when Microstock contributors are seeing increasingly diminishing returns on their investments.
Now the bad news
- As always, the cream rises to the top and competition is extremely tough. Stocksy naturally limits the numbers of contributors to maintain its premium-standard. Currently, there are only 900 or so contributors and who knows how many more they’re taking on but it probably won’t be many. Also not clear how long they’ll be recruiting for so best act quickly;
- Exclusivity: This may not necessarily be a negative factor but you’ll certainly lose out on income from submitting to multiple agencies. This is probably a greater factor for those who create video content, which generally takes considerable more time and effort than creating photographic medium.
How to apply?
According to their website’s Call to Artists page:
“Stocksy is thrilled to announce the reopening of Call to Artists for the first time in 2 years. At Stocksy, we are renowned for our co-op model, making artists co-owners in a business that pays the highest royalties in the industry (50-75%) and is dedicated to creative integrity.
Applications are open to anyone. We commonly look for artists with an eye for storytelling or who have complete bodies of work.
We’re currently seeking new international talent, with a focus on Southeast and East Asia, the Middle East, Australasia and Western Europe; as we look to represent and challenge traditional beauty ideals and stereotypes for a more inclusive world.
No matter your style, medium or location, talented photographers and cinematographers from anywhere in the world are welcome to apply.
We require image and video exclusivity. Beyond personal portfolio sites, art galleries and products for sale, all content uploaded to Stocksy cannot be licensed through another agency.
- We accept high resolution digital files, film scans, polaroid scans and mobile images
- Logos and trademarks must be removed
- All recognizable people will need to be model released”
Ok, so far so good. Then on another page they state HOW to apply:
“To give us an adequate sense of your work and style, we’re looking for a minimum of 25 photos…and with model/property releases (if needed).”
The requirements threw me off slightly but thanks some some clarification by existing Stocksy Artist, Sean Locke in the Microstockgroup Forum thread on this Call to Artists, “It doesn’t have to be brand new content”. In other words, even if your premium images are already with another agency, if you are accepted at Stocksy, these submitted images would be part of your new exclusive Stocksy portfolio. Then you’d have to delete those images from other portfolios.
Which types of images work best?
Sean Locke, who’s portfolio at Stocksy is available via this link, has the following words of advice for those who may be considering applying:
“Stocksy’s goal is to create a fair, sustainable income for its contributors, and that’s something I think we can all get behind. The team is looking for people who can tell a great story with an image series, and bonus points for international diversity and cultures!”
Look through some of their curated collections to have an idea of the standard they’re expecting. At the end of the day, they’re looking for “images that tell stories”. This generally means using models which can be an additional hurdle for some photographers.
Looking at my portfolio, I can see some images which may fit the bill…but will have to dig deeper to come up with my 25 image-shortlist. I’ll most likely have to shoot new material which is fine since this would be a fantastic opportunity if I can be accepted.
Best of luck for those who are applying!
Until next time – Alex