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Polaroid Transfers for Microstock?

1 January 2008 No Comment

My first month in microstock photography …

Actually, it is about 6 weeks, since I started submitting pictures to iStock in the middle of November. When I got accepted after a couple of iterations by iStock I started uploading to Fotolia and Dreamstime, and in the beginning of December to BigStock, 123rf and Lucky Oliver.

I had one failed initial submission to StockXpert and already two rejections from ShutterStock. In the first submission ShutterStock rejected 8 of 10 pictures with the noise as a dominant rejection theme and, in the second attempt, 5 from 10 with “poor or uneven lighting” as the main problem. I am not sure how I can have uneven lighting on small, single coins shot under diffusion tent, but see you next month. All 10 pictures in the second set were approved by iStock and two of them were sold there. Has anybody entered ShutterStock with fewer than three attempts?

Here is the status of my microstock portfolio at different agencies by December 31, 2007. In parenthesis, next to my acceptance rate, I am quoting average agency acceptance rate after Microstock Diaries.

agency number of files acceptance downloads
iStock 30

41% (59%)

DreamsTime 32 51% (49%)

Fotolia 43 54% 1
Big Stock Photo 38 70% (72%)


123rf 49 98% 0

Lucky Oliver 49 87% (72%) 0
ShutterStock 0 0% (40%) 0
StockXpert 0 0% (67%) 0

It was a time of intense experimenting and learning. I was trying to figure out which of my pictures can be accepted in microstock.

In particular, I wanted to test whether my Polaroid image transfers may be a stock material. These are pictures originally shot as 35 mm slides, and then transferred using 4×5 peel apart Polaroid film on watercolor paper. So, these images are by their nature noisy, grainy, blurry, imperfect, painterly and rather artistic like this old barn or gas pump below.

Old gas station - Polaroid image transfer
Abandoned gas station in a ghost town of Purcell in northern Colorado. August 1998.
4×5″ Polaroid image transfer on Fabriano Artistico cold press watercolor paper
from my Lost Colorado series.

And, the results of my Polaroid image transfer test are:

  • yes – in iStock, DreamsTime, and 123rf with some exceptions
  • no – in Fotolia, BigStock and Lucky Oliver with exception maybe for emulsion transfers which look more like photographs

5 from 8 of my sales were old Polaroid transfers, 2 – rather recent hot air balloon pictures, and only one – a macro picture shot specifically for microstock a week ago. My total income from the microstock is about $12 so far.

Polaroid transfers belong rather to a fine art print market, but, on the other hand, they are quite different than a typical microstock shot.

I am not setting any very specific goals for my microstock photography for 2008 yet. First, I am going to create a 100-200 picture portfolio and see for a while how it performs.

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