iStock Facebook “Private” Group

Posted on 7/4/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

A number of iStock contributors interact on the Facebook “private” group for iStock. In reviewing comments and complaints for the last couple years there seems to be general agreement that sales started to decline in late 2018 and the decline has continued into 2019. This is compared to what sales were in 2017 and early 2018.

It should be noted that the number of contributors participating in this group is small compared to total iStock contributors so the information may not be representative, but no one indicated that sales were growing.

No one seems to have an explanation for this decline. There was no indication that there were any major changes in the search algorithm in 2018.

It seems that now it takes 6 months to a year for an images to be seen often enough to become a good seller. In 2017 this tended to happen much more quickly. No one seems to have any idea about how to get their images seen more frequently. Neither more or better keywords nor when the image is submitted seem to make a difference..

It was also noted that reviewing has become increasingly inconsistent. It has also become increasingly difficult for images of certain subject matter to even be accepted. For example, images of Manhattan’s skyline that appear to be shot from the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center are no longer allowed to be accepted. Inclusion is subjective. A shot from near that angle would have to prove that it was not shot from the Top of the Rock observation deck in order to be accepted. 

Train stations in Japan, also are almost entirely off limits. They must be largely unidentifiable. Ikea furniture is off limits despite the fact that for much of modern day lifestyle stock photography generic Ikea furniture is a mainstay when propping shoots. Rudolf the RED nosed reindeer is off limits as of last year, anything with a red nose in it and depicting Christmas reindeer must have the nose color changed and re-submitted. 
One contributor on the forum advised readers to NEVER add descriptions or keywords for named monuments/buildings/landmarks if there is any concern that the location would be flagged by a reviewer, even if that location is not specifically in the shot.
Signature+ designations are subjective to reviewer interpretations and seem to shift widely.

One contributor noted an image was rejected for creative by a reviewer who said it could only be included in editorial. When submitted to editorial it was rejected for the reason that it should have been submitted to the creative/commercial collection.

Illustrators indicated that they regularly need to support their drawings with proof that they didn’t reference another drawing/photo for which they don’t own the copyright. 
It seems that two completely opposing sides of the industry are developing. On the one side, there are the “whatever goes” free images that are unpoliced, and free. On the other side, is an increasingly game-oriented, tightly curated system for licensing rights to use the images, but the royalties paid creators for use of such images are seldom attractive enough to justify the work of getting the images accepted.

Copyright © 2019 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:  


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