Are you planning exclusivity? Some tips for newbies

posted on 14th of january, 2010

I would like to share my 3 years experience with newbies who are considering exclusivity. Well in fact I AM an exclusive photog, since middle of 2008, I'll try to put all the pros and cons regarding exclusivity.

© Maigi (Help)

First question: Are you a full-time photographer who lives of photography or just a hobbyst? Do you need to make the most out of ALL your images? For pros, exclusivity maybe is not the right option, once you sign for exclusivity, you can only sell the images that admins approve, refused files are sentenced to fill space on your hard drive or be shown to friends and familiars but with no economic compensation from them.

So if you want to take proffit from every one of your images, exclusivity is not the good option. On the other hand, if you take photography just for hobby and fun, and are happy only seing that some of your files can generate sales, but you don't care about those not-accepted lying on your hard drive DT offers the best exclusive comission over all agencies (60%) regardless of the number of sales an image makes, a upload bonus of 0.20 cts for every file accepted and better search engine placement. Subscription comissions are higher.

Some people prefer to focuse all their work in a sole agency rather than distribute their work on multiple agencies. What's the point on selling the same picture for 0,25 cents on one agency and for 1,20 on another?

Non exclusivity gives freedom but less image comissions, every agency has different TOS and maybe there is some agencies that you will never make enough sales to request the payment (it deppendsa on the limit for request payment).
Some agencies have a very tough criteria in accepting images and maybe they will refuse most of your portfolio, you need to get some pre accpeted images to become one of his photographers and with the time, maybe you will find that they don't accept much of your work. As I said, Dreamstime offers the highest comission for exclusives, and there is a big difference between getting 30% than 60% for your images.

I'm happy with exclusivity here, the only and unique thing it bother me is that you can sell your work as prints, mugs or stuff like that on sites that offer that, like red bubble but I don't know anyway if I would sell anything on that sites.

To summarize:

Exclusivity it's worth it when:

- You don't make photography for your living, just a hobby
- You don't care about having images that you won't take money from them
- You prefer to remain to a sole agency
- You want to get the better commissions for your images and maybe don't want to give them away for only 0,25 cents
- You have a small portfolio and prefer to focalise it on a sole agency

Why Dreamstime?

- Higest commissions ever including subscription sales
- 20 ct bonuses for approved file
- Friendly and communicative staff (both in forums and through contact support)
- Better search engine placement

Comments (20)

Posted by Virgilxxn on February 10, 2010
Ingrid, well done and thanks for sharing, interesting read! Photography has been my hobie for a while but I'm new to stock and it is exciting to see pictures accepted and viewed. Kind regards
Posted by Deedeedixon on February 02, 2010
I will be retiring in about 2 years and don't have much time to dedicate to my photography. I mainly want to be able to suppliment my retirement and am trying to learn the ins and outs of stock photography. Exclusive sounds good, except I wonder about what contests I can and cannot enter. Does anybody know?
Posted by Tan510jomast on January 22, 2010
Very well written and very objectively done too.Congrats.
Yes, if you are a photographer with other commitments , exclusive is too restrictive. Having your rejected images sent to limbo is a horrible thought.
And even if I were not a full time photographer , and if I had more time to assign to micro, that alone (the rejected images collecting dust), would definite turn me off the idea of going exclusive.

I do like the idea of exclusive images though, which DT provides that no other sites do. (I think).
But you are right, if photography is just a hobby and you want to save time not having to upload to the other top sites, exclusivity is definitely a good way to go. You can then allot your energy to just DT
Posted by Aginger on January 19, 2010
Thank you Maen, good to know...
Posted by Darkwulf on January 17, 2010
I would add only one thing - working (nonexclusively) with several different agencies might eventually prove to be more profitable but it definitely also is much more time consuming. Just when I think about several different upload and reviewing processes, different guidelines and of course a different graphic interface you have to get used to, the idea repels me. Not to mention keeping track which picture was submitted where. It sure sounds much better to work exclusively, even though maybe for less money, with one least when your time is valuable :)
Posted by Elimitchell on January 16, 2010

@Elimitchell TOS says that about exclusivity: "an Exclusive Contributor may terminate their status as an Exclusive Contributor with thirty (30) days prior written notice to If an Exclusive Contributor terminates this Agreement prior to the passage of six (6) months, reserves the right to recover all commission payments made to the Exclusive Contributor prior to the termination of Exclusive Contributor status. These payments include the upload bonus received after each accepted submission and the extra percentage earned by exclusive contributors."

Thanks so much! It sounds pretty good to me, as long as I can still enter contests.
Posted by Titania1980 on January 16, 2010
Thanks all for your posts!

@Elimitchell TOS says that about exclusivity: "an Exclusive Contributor may terminate their status as an Exclusive Contributor with thirty (30) days prior written notice to If an Exclusive Contributor terminates this Agreement prior to the passage of six (6) months, reserves the right to recover all commission payments made to the Exclusive Contributor prior to the termination of Exclusive Contributor status. These payments include the upload bonus received after each accepted submission and the extra percentage earned by exclusive contributors."

You cannot post your images on another agencies but I don't know how about contests, I think that if you ware selling an image here you cannot put it on a photography contest.

@Farang and Aginger, I see Maen has answered your questions
Posted by Mani33 on January 15, 2010
Aginger Yes even ********, I think even you can not sell on your own site with out passing through DT! That's what exclusivity means...!
Farang Maybe you should suggest that on the message boards or contact DT directly... Some photographers they make EXIF keywords & titles through windows or photoshop then keep the files in the unfinished area then they pass them to pending images almost everyday with out big effort! But as I said better to hear from an DT.
Cheers ;)
Posted by Farang on January 15, 2010
Good article,

Even though i am not a newbie in stock it makes me think..
I have been thinking lately of becoming an exclusive contributor to DT.
Actually most of the pictures i already upload are exclusively uploaded to DT.
There is however one thing that is stopping me for becoming totally exclusive and that is the upload limit.
If exclusive members were allowed to upload more a day, i would happily become an exclusive member.

So if DT changes the upload limit for exclusive members i might just take the step.
Posted by Aginger on January 15, 2010
Great article and very useful to me...just a question, maybe someone can answer me - if I decide to be exclusive on DT, should I remove my photos from microstock agencies only or from normal stock agency (gettty), too?
Posted by Dmccale on January 15, 2010
I just went exclusive about a week ago. After a lot of debating and getting my files remove from three other sites, I was successful. I am very happy with my decision and agree with Ingrid, It depends on you needs. I do think even if you do this for a living you could do well here. Thanks for you post and good luck to all
Hugs Debbie
Posted by Xiaofeng123 on January 15, 2010
Exclusivity bring more money and less time
Posted by Elimitchell on January 15, 2010
Fabulous tips, Ingrid! I have several questions though. I am nearing the 50 images mark, and it is something I've got to decide. Can you cancel your exclusive status after you become exclusive? Also, does Xclusivity just limit you from submitting to other microstock agencies, or to anything? I would still like to be able to enter contests, etc.
Posted by Maigi on January 14, 2010
You nailed it! Great article! It's a serious decision - to remove all your images from all other agencies, so it need to be considered wisely. You brought up very good points. It's a big help for many who consider exclusivity. Thank you!
Posted by Rosedarc on January 14, 2010
Excellent summary of the pros and cons of going exclusive.
Posted by Wildmac on January 14, 2010
Excellent blog Ingrid! I'm exclusive here myself and enjoy the benefits that that brings for the time I have to spend on my photography. I could have gone to more than one site, but then I would lose photography time in uploading etc to more sites. It's like Maen says, "it's all about a balance between time and earnings" Thanks for using my image :)
Posted by Fultonsphoto on January 14, 2010
All good and valid points, another one to add and very important is that exclusives get added protection of their images and models and are less likely to be used illegally. I would agree with Gabriel that should I decide to go exclusive it would be with DT.
Posted by Mani33 on January 14, 2010
Well said Ingrid, it's all about a balance between time & earnings...
Brad made a good point also.
Thanks for using my image, and thanks for sharing! Good luck all ;)
Posted by Bradcalkins on January 14, 2010
It is worth mentioning that DT has an excellent referral program too - giving a percentage of buyers purchases or contributors' sales for 3 years.
Posted by Justmeyo on January 14, 2010
Very good points,Ingrid!I think the newbies will find this article very useful!
I know this moment what i want for myself and i prefer to not be exclusive for now but if someday i will want exclusivity i would prefer DT for sure:)
For now i try to see if i can make a living from this and my wife help me a lot in that job.
I know many photographers happy of being exclusive on DT and i am glad for all.It is important to know what you want and to do what make you happy:)Good luck in the future:)
Thanks for tips and thanks for using a photo of mine with me:)

Comments (20)

This article has been read 2247 times. 12 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Claudio Fichera, Andra Mohorea, Gabriel Blaj, Maigi, Maen Zayyad, Sang Lei, Starblue, Wildmac.

About me

I got interested in photography on 2004-05, when I bought my first digital camera. I bought better cameras and finally, in 2006 I discovered Stock Photography, a fun and easy way to make money with my pictures, beside I'm not a pro. If you purchase one of my pics and want to let a comment about how it will be used I'll be very happy ;) If you need some specific theme or subject leave me a comment and I'll shoot it :) If you are from Barcelona or near and want to be my model,please leave me a comment

Barcelona, ES

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