22 Feb 2013 Elnur Amikishiyev – Microstock Celebrity

Elnur AmikishiyevMeet Elnur Amikishiyev, one of the world’s most productive microstockers.

Elnur currently has over 64,000 photos in his Shutterstock portfolio placing him in the top 10 Shutterstock portfolios by size.   At Depositphotos he has over 76,000.   He added over 25,000 photos to his Shutterstock portfolio in the last 12 months alone.

What makes Elnur’s amazing productivity even more impressive is that he does it while maintaining a demanding full-time job as a finance manager for BP.   Not only that, he’s extremely active in three Russian-language microstock forums, regularly speaks at industry conferences and runs a Russian-language Facebook group about microstock.

Microstock Portfolios

Elnur shoots primarily still life, but also has a healthy dose of travel and model shots in his portfolio.   Much of his portfolio is the low-hanging-fruit of stock photography – basic items isolated on white and simple travel landscapes – but Enlur more than makes up for it by doing it well and in very high volume.   He acknowledges that his RPI isn’t as high as most contributors shooting business lifestyle, but argues RPI is almost irrelevant and it’s overall income that matters.

He distributes widely, supporting new and small microstock agencies, and contributing to some non-microstock agencies too.

Top microstock portfolios: Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime, iStockphoto, Depositphotos, 123RF, BigStock

Stock photo oil rig at sunset Stock photo shopping bags Stock photo dubai skyline Stock photo snowy mountains
Stock photo fruit and vegetables Stock photo theatre masks Stock photo scrapped idea Stock photo microphone and curtain

How Does He Do It??

Elnur works with a small team of people he contracts directly to help with processing, keywording and distribution. The shooting is done by himself and an assistant photographer.   He’s fast, very systematic, and puts a lot of effort into ensuring his processes are efficient.

His travel takes him away from home a lot so he has set up remote access to his computers so he can keep his microstock business running while away. He makes good use of software utilities to automate much of his workflow, and delegates much of the repetitive work to his employees.

Most of all, he consistently works hard.

Personal Information

Microstock Expo 2011, Berlin. Lifestyle Design session speakers

Microstock Expo 2011, Berlin. (left to right) Giorgio Fochesato, Josh Hodge, Pavel Orekhov, Elnur Amikishiyev, and Tyler Olson

Elnur is based in his native Azerbaijan, specifically in the city of Baku, though his travel for BP takes him to many different places for long periods of time. He speaks Russian in addition to his native Azeri, and thanks to extended periods in the UK also speaks English perfectly.

At Microstock Expo in 2011 Elnur was asked why he continues with his day job when he has a great career as a full-time microstock photographer.   His answer, in typically detailed form, was that what he learns from his job at BP helps his microstock business, and that the pressure of running two careers simultaneously keeps him sharp and focused.

Elnur Online

Elnur previously maintained an English-language microstock blog, About Microstock, but it hasn’t been a priority and so hasn’t been updated for a long time.

He also sells photos directly via his Baku Photos website, which he admits fell victim to his microstock success, though he’s committed to reviving it.

He’s active on Facebook with a personal account (allows subscriptions) and business page, on LinkedIn (only for his BP job), and a little on Twitter (mostly in Russian).


Elnur Amikishiyev at STOCKinRUSSIA 2009

Elnur speaking at the 2009 STOCKinRUSSIA conference. Copyright Pressfoto.ru

Elnur spoke twice at the STOCKinRUSSIA conference, the second of which was where I first met him.   I was already familiar with his blog and his microstock success, but his presentation was very clear and entertaining.   I later invited him to speak at Microstock Expo where he outlined how his microstock business fits in with everything else in his life in the Lifestyle Design session.

Elnur’s presentations are humorous for both his jokes and the sheer scale of his numbers.   And there’s always a lot to learn from his processes and strategies – the business that has him generating many thousands of commercial images each month while maintaining a demanding day job.

  • Kirill
    Posted at 08:32h, 22 February Reply

    And what about Africa Studio with about 150 000 pictures and more than 14 000 pics added last month? And lineartestpilot with 120 000 pictures? Wavebreakmedia with 77 000 (yes it is big team but anyway) and few red carpet photographers with huge portfolios? Sergey Nivens is realy close to Elnurs numbers. Matthew Cole with about 3000 images per month, Aaron Amat with 3500 per month?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 20:22h, 22 February Reply

      How many of them have demanding full-time jobs?

      Welcome back Kirill! You were missed.

      • Kirill
        Posted at 03:08h, 25 February Reply

        Don’t know how for now, but AS were not full time stockers in the past

  • Mark Milstein
    Posted at 11:03h, 22 February Reply

    When Microstock ever gets around to creating either a walk or hall of fame, Elnur will certainly be one of the first inductees. A great story. Thanks.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 20:22h, 22 February Reply

      Not a bad idea, Mark. Know anyone who could put that together? 😉

  • basti
    Posted at 13:44h, 04 March Reply

    Such “photographers” should be really labeled “photo studios”. Yes, they do shoot. But most time consuming is not the shooting itself but editing, keywording and uploading and Elnur would struggle to make just tiny fraction of such volumes only himself. The other thing is that I do not consider “author” just photographer because editing can and often does change the photo very significantly. Let say that mediocre photographer + excellent editor team could produce quite good pictures but only photographer would be credited. Seems quite strange to me… I understand outsourcing of keywording and uploading but editing is simply something different in my opinion.

    • Kirill
      Posted at 07:38h, 11 March Reply


  • John Allen
    Posted at 14:17h, 22 April Reply

    I wonder when this busy photographer has time to sleep.

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