November 2022 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome to the November 2022 detailed monthly report focusing on my overall earnings for the month, including a new book cover sale making it four months in a row! I’ll also discuss why I’ve decided to re-start uploading to Robert Harding. Lastly, I’ll tell my side of the story of a recent unpleasant encounter as a humble street photographer. Let’s get started!

If you missed out or would like to catch up on previous monthly-earnings reports, you can see them here. Before we get started…

Supporting the blog!

Throughout my blog, as you can appreciate, I’ve given quite a bit of my time to help you make sense of this complicated stock industry and help you to focus on making money.

If you feel that the information below and throughout the blog is useful I kindly ask you to donate as much as you feel is reasonable, such a price of a pastel de nata or a DJI Mavic Air3 or I’ll settle for the DJI Mini 3, by clicking on the following link below:

-> Support the Brutally Honest Blog! <-

Featuring Canada-based, FPV Drone Pilot, Steeve Raye

I’m all about supporting hard-working individuals in the industry and one such friend is Steeve Raye, who is making progress as an FPV (first-person-view) Drone pilot in Oliver, British Columbia.

Steeve, also the book-cover artist!

I’ve also encouraged Steeve to submit some book covers at Arcangel and he’s showing early promise – link to his port here.

November Highlights

Brutally busy month with some cool highlights!

Two Nasty Street Photography Episodes

So, I’ve written before about how I’ve had a few too many encounters with upset members of the public while shooting random stuff during my frequent walks around Lisbon. Keeping in mind that 99.9% of people are just going about their daily business and don’t bother me and those that do are almost always very friendly, this past month I’ve recently had two nasty encounters that I’ll now discuss.

First recent episode

The first one was in public at the Ladra Flea market in Lisbon when I was taking some pics, for book covers of course, of some used shoes and other junk on the pavement using my 24mm tilt shift lens. One man’s trash is another’s treasure as they say. Here’s the pic, which wasn’t even accepted at Arcangel anyway (beyond the point).

So I was there for just a minute trying to get a good angle which is tricky with the tilt-shift and the “shopkeeper” rushed up to me and confronted me saying that I shouldn’t take pictures of his stuff, almost grabbing my camera, then telling me to delete. I said that I was doing artsy stuff and not shooting him while stepping back.

The usual mindless mantra of “You’re not allowed to take pictures without permission” was spewed, followed by harsh words being exchanged and me walking away to deescalate. It’s a large market with lots of opportunities and didn’t need to waste my time with someone that has an IQ of an amoeba.

Let’s move onto the most recent episode – more interesting as it’s fresh in my mind.

Second recent episode

The second episode was just a few days when I was strolling around town as usual looking for interesting book cover stories when I noticed some colourful leaves on shiny cobblestones with chairs / tables belonging to a cafe. Really nothing crazily out of the ordinary. Here’s the image in RAW.

I was trying to get some different vertical angles and focal lengths when a man, perhaps about 35, approached me speaking in Portuguese. The following is a rough transcript from memory of the interaction, as translated.

Bothered man: Hi, excuse me, why are you taking pictures of the people at the café terrace?

Me: Hi, I’m not taking pictures of the people, they are just in the background and we can barely see them as they are out of focus, I liked the leaves and cobblestones with the tables at the top of the frame [proceeds to show one of the pics, in fact the one above].

Bothered man: [Looks at it quickly disinterestedly] I work at this café and don’t want you taking pictures of me nor the customers. It’s against the law, you don’t have my or their permission. Stop now!

Me: Look, I’m in a public place. I understand your concern and know the law on shooting photos of members of the public. I’m not taking portraits of anybody, which I know that in Portugal I cannot do without their permission. I’ve researched and I have a legal background. However, as I have just shown you, the people are in the far background and out of focus, so I’m not breaking any privacy laws. I’m probably going to crop them out anyway. [I was done shooting that scene anyway but didn’t want to say anything and wanted to see how far he was going to take it. Plus he asked me not to take a pic of him anyway and of course I wouldn’t.]

Bothered man: Doesn’t matter that you’re in public, it’s against the law. I don’t want you to take pictures of me as you don’t have my permission especially since I’m working at this café.

Me: [At this stage we were going around in circles and I was starting to get annoyed plus I wanted to leave to keep exploring other places] If you don’t want me to take your picture when in public then just stay at home!

Bothered man: [While he’s walking away pointing at his eye] Be careful…if you don’t stop I will call the cops!

Me: [Also while I’m walking away] You be careful and go ahead and call the cops!

AI generated image by DALLE-2 to help illustrate the interaction

So as you can read above, the interaction started off cordially enough but got a bit nasty towards the end with him threatening me twice, which were empty threats.

Know the law

The important point is that I researched and now know the local law and stood my ground. Unlike the UK and US, members of the public have a right to privacy in public, as long as I don’t shoot them as “portraits”, which I admit that I have done many of times without people’s permissions but not in this case. I made my case and perhaps he will educate himself in the future instead of being so stubborn.

We live in snowflake times!

It’s a bit strange that a youngish guy would be so offended (seems like one of the customers complained) but we need to be aware that we are living in snowflake times, meaning that some people are easily offended by some photo-collection! It was a university / student area so perhaps the newer generation are more sensitive to issues relating to privacy, who knows.

It doesn’t help that I’m shooting with a large DSLR and large lens, perhaps an argument can be made to begin shooting with a smartphone…doubt that anybody would care.

Privacy in public is a tricky issue

It’s just quite frustrating that these interactions are becoming more and more common in Portugal. Funny, how in many other places I traveled they aren’t as common (especially in the UK where there is no right to privacy in public). Why aren’t members of the public more concerned about CCTV cameras everywhere?

King of Salamanca Throwback

When living in Spain I can’t recall any real issues with people complaining about my street photography except for that episode with the King of Salamanca that I wrote about in the April 2021 report. The idiot actually tracked me down and emailed me!

Creating a small card / paper stating my rights as a street photographer

Therefore, I’m thinking of creating a sort of small card with some bullet points about what the law says about taking photos in public and and my rights / obligations to pull out if/when I do get harassed. Don’t know if it will really help because of the general public attitude towards photographers, but worth a try. I found an example with a quick search on Pinterest:

UPDATE ON DECEMBER 4, 2022 – I’ve drafted a short one-page document stating my rights / obligations and printed out a few copies to carry with me while shooting in public. Hopefully this will help to explain / deescalate some situations. Feel free to use the template for your own means.

Enough about these nasty encounters, now, as usual, let’s move onto the detailed earnings report for all agencies, starting with stills.

Detailed Earnings Breakdown

Image Earnings

AgencyNumber of Images in port
(images added Nov)
Net Revenue for Nov (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Alamy14,282 (178)263
Arcangel (RM-exclusive)1,957 (101) ~1,000~1,000
Adobe Stock3,972 (53)620.66
Creative Market1,634 (10)00
DepositPhotos7,705 (171)110.30
Dreamstime7,666 (158)70.41
EyeEm380 (8) – Partner Program only1Peanuts
Freekpik608 (32)160.07
Fine Art America373 (0)00
Gallerist2,167 (87)00
iStock (October 2022)7,766 (67) 720.43
Robert Harding (Q3 2022 monthly average) – exclusive390 (8)202
Shutterstock Editorial 898 (0)00
Shutterstock11,154 (46)1400.49
Pond51,816 (0)11
Photo4Me380 (2)00
SignElements1,308 (10)1N/A
Wirestock1,891 (50)6N/A
Total 1,363 

Clip Earnings

AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added Nov)
Net Revenue for Nov (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock665 (61)00
Pond51,967 (13)00
iStock439 (24)52
OverflightStock – exclusive92 (7)00
Shutterstock1,435 (56)1818
Wirestock98 (0)00
Total 23 

Totals: $1,386 in Nov vs $676 in Oct

Now, let’s go through the results for individual agencies – warning stormy weather ahead!

Alamy: Disappointing month + Given up hope

It’s painful for me to say this…Alamy is a waste of time (for me). There, I’ve said it. Therefore, I’ve relegated them to the one of those agencies that I have little to no expectations.

Why are they a waste of time (for me)? Well, it’s it obvious…$26 net earned in November from 14,000+ images and the past months have been around this price. Freepik pulled in a much more respectable $16 net from just 608 images.

Some in the Alamy contributor forum may argue that my poor results are because the same images are elsewhere for pennies, but honestly I don’t think that makes a difference because they barely sell there anyway. Plus, I have a good 15% of the port that are Rights-Managed exclusive on Alamy and those don’t sell more than the non-exclusive Royalty-Free. What gives – actually, who gives a shit.

Maybe I’m being a little harsh on Alamy as it’s an industry-wide problem mainly due to oversaturation, as you can see my results are sub-par at all the “majors”.

Adobe Stock: Disappointing month

After a strong October, Adobe Stock fell back to earth with a disappointing month at just $62 but most worrying was the quite low, for AS standards, return per image at only 66cents/image. Nothing worth posting here.

iStockPhoto: Again very disappointing

Another agency that I don’t give a shit about is iStock with yet another disappointing month at iStock which I’ve pretty much given up on. Highest-earning photo was only $4 and that already says a lot. Nothing more to say, just a pathetic agency that helps to drive the whole industry to the ground.

Shutterstock: Very very disappointing

Shutterstock earnings are back to 2016 levels at just $158 (both stills and videos), despite increasing my port there for the past few months. Just one small clip sale. Sad to see but it is what it is. Nothing worth posting here.

Dreamstime Hypocricy

I recently came across an announcement by Dreamstime that they are boycotting editorial images taken at the Qatar World Cup because of among other criticisms “modern slavery”. Here’s a snippet of their press release:

Ok, whatever but in the same breath immediately below they have an announcement encouraging contributors to submit images to their free collection – see below:

While I’m not going as far as comparing the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar with the plight of microstock contributors, it does smell fishy and a tad bit of hypocricy. I really expect more from my leading agency in 2031 – what do you think?

Enough bad news…

Good News at Robert Harding

If you recall like a six years ago, I was really excited about submitting exclusive / premium images to Robert Harding. My most memorable post was an interview I published with Luke Nester, Account Manager at Robert Harding, who provided some great tips on uploading travel stock images.

Anyway, there was one particular quarterly sales report, I believe was back in 2018, that shocked me and I pretty much stopped uploading them. Even if I had only some 350 images accepted on there, they were the best of my best and I didn’t accept pennies for licenses, literally. Here’s my port on there if you’re curious.

Is it really “Passive Income”?

I still receive quite regular sales even after four years and have been quite pleasantly surprised at the longevity of such regular sales. The average is nothing to brag about but still cool to earn some $20/month after four years from doing nothing from a quite small portfolio (390 images), which is by definition “passive income”.

My latest sales report was particularly strong with one such sale of an image I uploaded in 2017 earning me $60, which is pretty cool.

Ouro Preto, a former colonial mining town, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Minas Gerais, Brazil, South America

Back to uploading to Robert Harding (for now)!

Therefore, I’ve decided to begin to upload some of my best aerial / drone images to Robert Harding and they’re accepting a fair bit, which is encouraging since they’re super picky. Why not send them to micros instead? Well, it just feels a bit icky to upload these such premium images that took quite a bit of effort and some risk to achieve to earn a few cents. These images required authorization from the aviation authority, travel and obviously the investment on the drone.

Some accepted include panoramas at Sintra’s Palacio da Pena and then landmarks captured the next day in Belem, Lisbon as you can see below.

Aerial panoramic view of Pena Palace, a romanticist castle in the Sintra mountains of Portugal – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Aerial drone view of Belem Tower, a 16th-century fortification located in Lisbon, Portugal on the Tagus River
Aerial drone view of Padrao dos Descobrimentos, a monument on the northern bank of the Tagus river estuary in Lisbon, Portugal

All agencies deserve a fair chance (until they don’t)

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I’m quite generous with all agencies and give them a fair chance…but once they disappoint me I cut them out for good, like a toxic ex-girlfriend. I’ve shown no mercy with the likes of Canstock, 123RF and Canva and no agency is immune from the brutally honest guy’s wrath.

However, Robert Harding deserve another chance…so let’s wait and see how these new images perform!

Boy stares in amazement at Arabic man wearing a thawb riding a camel on a beach, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Middle East

One Sale + 101-images accepted Images at Arcangel!

I’ve left the best news to last as I’m super pleased to report my fourth month in a row with a sale over at Arcangel earning me net again around $1,000. I’ve been asked to not give out exact earning amounts, therefore sometimes I round up and sometimes I round down, which should all balance in the end. Well, here it is with the original obviously on the left.

I got in touch with Holly Craig via her Instagram account and was cool to be able to exchange some ideas. She was curious where the image was taken, etc.

Best not to over-process images

So, as you can see above, the designers went to great lengths to adapt the existing cover with the story by adding all sorts of details, such as the stormy water, boat, persons and house. That’s why I think it’s best to treat potential book covers as “unfinished” and more of a canva for designers to add whatever they wish. My batches are increasingly less post-processed to give designers as much flexibility as they need.

Started using myself more for top-down drone shots

Like a camera on a tripod, it’s perfectly fine to leave the drone up in the air to get the right shot. With this in mind, I’ve started using myself more as the subject as in this example crossing the street with a cool shadow from the palm tree and the obligatory copy space. I’ve submitted both and although they were rejected, this is something I will do more.

Accepted images in Nov!

Strong month with 101 accepted images. Looking at high volumes of acceptance is a good sign but in the end quality is more important. Which one is your favourite and why?

Until next time!

Hope you enjoyed reading this report. Will be back with the 2022 year-end report and goals for 2023.

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Lisbon, Portugal, on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’ve devoted eight years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others by showing an unique insight into a fascinating business model.

Most recently I’ve gone all in on submitting book cover images to Arcangel Images. Oh and also recently purchased a DJI Mavic 2s drone and taking full advantage.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography


  1. Thankyou for your updates as always. Here in Australia, I have been having the same issues in street photography. Just 2 weeks back, ran into a security guard chasing me from photographing abstract photos of architecture against the sky. And this was despite my showing him the photos to prove nothing was recognisable, or a security issue. Indeed, the moment one has an SLR, everyone is up in arms. I am really finding that to grab certain photos, I have to use my phone (very disappointing creatively), or head out of the city where the trees dont complain and I can set up a tripod and take lots of angles. Times have certainly changed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoy reading these! Thanks!

    I’ve seen the same. Walking around with DSLR makes certain people easily get annoyed. They seem to think that everyone else has rights except the photographer…

    Thanks for the mention too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems that we are starting to have issues everywhere. Is good to know the laws. Here in Cyprus we have issues with drones even if you are not capturing people. Even if you fly the drone hundred of metter away form people (as it is legal) everyone beleives that you are capturing him.

    I did try to be accepted in Arcangel with out any success. Any hint? Do you create a special portfolio and send them a link to see it?

    Thank you for the content you are sharing


  4. Hi Alexandre,
    Long time no look at your website. Sorry. I remember you from the Shutterstock forum. Thanks for all the information
    My stock photos are little compared to yours. (only on A.S, Alamy and S.S) Sales and earnings are also declining for me at Alamy. Despite the new photos. The 20% instead of 40% doesn’t make it any better either. Shutterstock is moving forward a little, thanks to the new photos,
    When photographing on the street I try to stand out as little as possible, to avoid these kinds of discussions.
    Kind regards, Thijs de Graaf, The Netherlands.


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