There are numerous, hundreds, of micro stock sites that provide royalty free images, vectors, illustrations video and sound files for whoever need. On this site I am concentrating on iStock as it was the first I began uploading to and has developed into my favourite out of the few I contribute to.

Why iStock over all the rest?
It is basically a matter of taste and has absolutely nothing to do with one being better then the other or what-not. I merely found iStock's interface, their method of dealing with me as a contributor and the community of artists their more to my liking.

I would liken it to my choice of camera: Why I chose Nikon over Canon. Again, merely a matter of personal taste. When I was planning to purchase my first Digital SLR I had the opportunity of handling a Canon 450D on two occasions - at that time the latest in the Rebel models to have been released - and a Nikon D200. The Canon, while comfortable in the hand, was confusing on the controls department (again - always as per my experience) which bothered me slightly. Obviously a bit of practice and such would soon have sorted that out but such was my first impression of the camera. On the other hand, when I played around with a friends D200 it was almost as if I knew the camera from the very start. I used to own a Minolta X-700 film camera and the controls and features were very similar to that of the Nikon - thus I almost immediately fell in love with Nikon.

Royalty Free
The beauty of these micro-stock libraries and their royalty free nature is that a file may be purchased (downloaded) numerous times by different clients thus building up a history of sales. That is the whole meaning about royalty free - the files is open for use as long as it is kept available by the contributor, not de-activated or removed. One may also choose to become exclusive - ie uploading and selling images through one Stock site only. The Royalty Free status of the files remain, however by being exclusive to that site one gets a number of perks which are not available to non-exclusive contributors. Such perks could include but are not solely limited to the following:
  • Better percentage on sales
  • Better exposure of portfolio
  • Higher ranking on Google and other search engines
  • Personalised business cards (iStock)
  • iStock Credit/Debit cards (iStock)
Each stock site has different criteria requirements before one can become exclusive - iStock have the toughest of the lot I believe. One day, hopefully I will be able to become an exclusive iStock contributor but to date I am 159 downloads and 8% acceptance rate short of the minimum criteria (to be an iStock exclusive you need at least 250 downloads/sales and a minimum of 50% acceptance rate - quite tough for me but getting there slowly).

Although I am concentrating on my iStock portfolio on this site here (I told ya, its my favourite) I have a number of other accounts as listed below:
There are a few other minor stock sites I have tried in the past but the above are the main libraries.

Selection Criteria differences across Micro Stock Sites

One thing which I have noticed from my experience with these sites is that each have their own particular criteria and ideas on whether a file is good enough or considered stock-related for inclusion in their library. On quite a few occasions I have had files rejected on one or two sites while accepted on a third and vice versa. Rejections for jpg artefacting and noise is my most common rejection on iStock. Flat or dull lighting comes a close second, while on other sites I have received rejections for 'not considered stock' or 'subject already well covered in our library'.

rejections can be quite frustrating and demoralising but they also help you improve. The close attention to detail that is required has forced me to scrutinise each image at 100% or even higher at times and thus has helped me improve my post processing work-flow and skills. So much so that recently I recieved my first ever (hopefully not last) initial rating on the file shown below.

Lens Flare on Mt Kilimanjaro

The next step forward
To become an exclusive contributor for iStock. But also to start producing some studio shots and shooting models (shooting as in taking photos please! I am a pacifist at heart). Unfortunately the second is a bit difficult to achieve at the moment as I do not have a studio nor can I afford to purchase any equipment for one.

In time... in time!