iStock, a subsidiary of Getty Images, invites contributors to submit photos or videos that can be sold on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis

Expected pay: varies

Husl$core: $$$

Commissions & fees: 60% to 85% (you earn 15% – 40% of each sale)

Where: Worldwide

Requirements: 18 or older

iStock Review:

iStock, a subsidiary of Getty Images, encourages freelance photographers and videographers to submit a portfolio and apply to be contributors. If accepted, the site will represent you in the sale of photos, videos and illustrations. The site has two ways to do that. You can be an “exclusive” contributor or a non-exclusive contributor.

Non-exclusive contributors sell their images through iStock and Getty (registering with one gets your photos on both). However, they are not restricted from selling the same photos and/or others on non-affiliated sites, such as Shutterstock or Alamy.  

Exclusive contracts

“Exclusive” content is generally sold at premium rates — usually at least $50 per upload. However, photographers, videographers and illustrators give up a lot if they pledge exclusivity here. iStock’s exclusivity contract not only lays claim to exclusive licensing rights to the photos you upload to the site, it bars you from selling that form of content (i.e. photos) anywhere else. And while you can terminate your contract at any time, it’s not clear that you can ever regain the rights to the photos you’ve already provided to Getty/iStock through their exclusive license.

You have no direct control over the price that iStock/Getty gets for your work. (iStock and Getty share images and contracts. So our review for iStock is identical to our review of Getty.) So, if they don’t do a good job of representing you, you’re out of luck.

It’s worth mentioning that contributor reviews of iStock and Getty Images are pretty bad. So, we’d suggest you think carefully before granting them an exclusive license. However, given their size and reach, listing your non-exclusive content here isn’t a bad idea.


In addition to signing up to sell non-exclusive content here, we’d suggest photographers consider Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and Alamy.

What their users say (from Reddit)

I uploaded 63 files and have made over $20,000 on iStock, which is around $300 per file. Some made a lot and others very little. I am still getting some downloads, but the bulk came in 2009-2012. I dropped exclusivity in 2016 to see what SS was like. My iStock placement and downloads plummeted as expected. And the added SS did not make up the difference so I went back to exclusive. They key is in the search results. Most of the old files have moved far down in the search.

Be aware that not all exclusives are doing well. I’m earning between 1/3 and 1/4 of my previous earnings

I was exclusive to istock till 2013, shooting mostly food. Downloads were decreasing every month since 2011. My content just doesn’t fit to the exclusive collection. It was just too expensive. Customers getting much more of the same or better work for less money at istock.

From Trust Pilot

I found my picture on another webpage, It was edited a little and then put on sale again. It was hard to grab someone at istock/Getty Images which could help me, so I terminated my profile and my picture. When I finally got hold of them, I received this mail: “Since your account was terminated we don’t represent this image anymore, we have no legal basis to demand payment for an unauthorized use. “🙁

From the Better Business Bureau

I have been a contributor/member with *********** (acquired by Getty Images in 2015) since 2014. On February 22, 2019, I requested that my account be closed and asked about receiving all of my unpaid royalties. When I contacted Getty Images for an answer, my “ticket” was closed with no response. There is no way to contact Getty Images as a contributor other than via the website by creating “tickets” ( I have not been paid anything since February 2015 (when my illustrations made their first earnings) and my requests for payment/information are being ignored by Getty Images. This seems fraudulent and illegal.