Arcurs Offers Microstock Distribution Services

Posted on 11/12/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Many traditional stock shooters with long experience in the industry are beginning to take a hard look at microstock. However, they are often stymied in their efforts by microstock’s acceptance and upload requirements, which are very different from those of traditional agencies. Images that would be readily accepted by traditionals are often found unacceptable when submitted to microstock.

The Yuri Arcurs Distribution Network may offer some of the elite and very productive traditional people-and-lifestyle shooters a viable solution to working around these problems and breaking into the microstock market. This service is not intended for landscape, nature or wildlife photographers, because Arcurs—who is widely regarded known as the world’s top-selling microstock photographer—feels the demand for such subject matter is not as great as for pictures of people.

During a recent presentation at PhotoPlus Expo in New York, Arcurs said he generates over a million paid downloads for a gross annual microstock income of $1.3 million. To achieve these revenues, Arcurs employs a staff of 10 in Denmark and sources additional support from India.

While Arcurs’ gross revenue is impressive, he plows over 80% of it back into new production, overhead and growing his business, leaving a small net profit. Many traditional photographers like to argue that it is impossible to make money licensing rights to images at microstock prices, and yet a few seem to be doing it. There are over 267 iStockphoto photographers whose images have been downloaded more than 25,000 times, and the average for this group is over 50,000 downloads.

Those interested in being considered for representation by YADN should initially submit 1,000 to 2,000 RAW files from a few shoots, accompanied by a digital copy of all necessary model releases, via the YADN FTP server. About 10% of this initial submission can be expected to be selected by YADN for microstock distribution.

In this submission, Arcurs doesn’t just want to see premium photos; he wants to see most of what was shot, with the exception of test shots, to understand how the photographer approaches a particular shoot. Arcurs and his team can then provide guidance to the photographer on how to produce images that will be in greatest demand in the microstock market.

YADN provides retouching, adjustment of color tone, saturation and contrast, and quality checks, all of which vary greatly from what is expected in the traditional environment. YADN can also handle keywording, determining appropriate image categories and uploading images to various microstock Web sites on behalf of its represented photographers.

Every microstock agency has its own unique category system and different acceptance standards. Arcurs and his team have been operating in the microstock arena for more than four years and have developed the skills necessary to address such issues. YADN leaves represented photographers free to focus on producing new images, rather than spending huge amounts of time and energy on post-production.

Based on the experience of his current top contributor, Arcurs estimates that 400 image accepted through his program should earn between $350 and $500 per business day after being online for three months. Earnings will then decline, leveling off at about half the peak rate after six to eight months. The useful life of such images in undetermined, but some of Arcurs’ photos remain strong sellers after more than three years.

Assuming $250 per day is the average revenue—the point where sales level off after an initial peak—annual return per image works out to $162.50 for a 400-image collection. (Of the daily $250, each image brings in $0.625. There are 260 business days a year, yielding $162.50.) YADN charges 30% to 40% for its services, leaving represented photographers with roughly $100 per image, per year.

While there is no guarantee that earnings will be this good, $100 per image annually is more than many photographers are currently earning from their collections with traditional agencies. There are at least three other factors to consider when comparing microstock with traditional stock: Microstock agencies tend to accept about twice as many images from a given shoot. Images placed in microstock begin to generate revenue much faster. Finally, the return-per-image continues to grow in microstock, while it is declining in the traditional environment.

Interested photographers should contact YADN’s Xnfcre Eniyb. Arcurs’ new blog offers additional details about the photographer’s operation, with useful articles such as an overview of microstock agencies and advice on what to shoot and what sells. Arcurs has also published some videos that showcase his productions and approach.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Carlos Zardoya Posted Nov 12, 2008
    It's nice to see that microstock is turning into a distribution model, similar to classic stock, a natural movement in an evolving economy, by other side. If distributors will understand the opportunities, rather than looking at the hints, we will see. The game isn't over, but it has just started. And congratulations to Yuri: this is a very interesting initiative for pro photographers to start testing the waters of microstock in an efficient way.

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