04 Jun 2007 Microstock Upload Methods

The contributing process is an area where the top microstock websites have been competitive for years. How well the process fuctions, or how quickly they can contribute images has a big impact on photographers with large portfolios or high ongoing production.

So let’s take a look at what upload methods exist and which microstock websites offer them.


This is the most simple method of upload, and all microstock websites provide it. It’s simply a page of the website where you can click a Browse button, select a file from your computer, and click an Upload button to send the file.

There is some creative variation on HTML forms across the microstock websites. Some enable simultaneous uploading of multiple files with different levels of sophistication.

ActiveX / Java

This method is similar to HTML forms in that all the action happens on a page within the website. These advanced programming languages enable greater functionality in the uploading interface. Some are more sophisticated than others, but they all intend to make the process easier and more transparent.


File Transfer Protocol is an off-web method of uploading. Using any FTP application contributors can log into the FTP server of the microstock agency and send their photos. The photos are then completed and submitted through the website. The primary benefit of FTP uploading is that the files are sent in sequence, allowing you to easily and quickly upload large numbers of files. You can easily tell your FTP application to upload 200 photos to six microstock agencies and leave it unattended.


While not an upload method in itself, and Application Programming Interface (API) allows third party developers to create an applicaiton that interacts with a system. In this case the system is the microstock website. The APIs of microstock agencies also provide ways of interacting other than uploading photos, such as providing search results and downloading user statistics. One example of an application built to interact with the APIs of many microstock websites is the application reviewed yesterday, ProStockMaster.

Let’s Compare

Website HTML Form ActiveX / Java FTP
iStockphoto 1 at a time No No
ShutterStock up to 30 Java in-browser application to upload multiple files or folders Yes
Dreamstime 1 at a time No Yes
Fotolia up to 5 Java in-browser application to upload up to 100 files Yes
BigStockPhoto up to 10 No Yes
CanStockPhoto up to 10 Java in-browser application AND ActiveX (Windows) Yes
123rf up to 10 Java in-browser application to upload multiple files Yes
StockXpert up to 5 No No
LuckyOliver asdf No Yes
Crestock up to 10 No Yes

Notes of Interest

iStockphoto – while no direct FTP is offered they do provide multiple applications plugins that function via their API from their website

CanStockPhoto – can auto populate categories based on keywords in the ITPC – a big time saver
123rf – have an installable Windows XP upload application AND a facility to transfer files from another location on the web

StockXpert – all description data is required within the HTML upload form, meaning photos will different titles, descriptions or keywords must be uploaded individually

Crestock – have a separate facility for uploading Flash files

What Upload Method We Use

We’ve used the web-based uploading methods – mostly HTML forms – up until now. We tried FTP early on but had some problems with files not being received properly and duplicates appearing on the websites. We narrowed this down to our own FTP application, as we were having the same problem on all microstock websites we tested. We never got around to trying another application.

However, now that we’ve discovered IPTC data and ProStockMaster we’re about to transform our contributing process. We’ll be using Adobe Bridge to do the IPTC data and then ProStockMaster to do the uploading.

What methods do you use?

  • Joseph
    Posted at 13:32h, 04 June Reply

    FTP is the best method of course or ProStockMaster for those who use many sites.

    Just wanted to add that Fotolia might soon have a flash solution for uploads to improve user experience.
    Have a good day,

  • L. F. File
    Posted at 01:39h, 05 June Reply

    Really enjoy your blog especially your sales statistics. I would like to see something about rejection rates. I haven’t been doing this for long and only use three sites but my rejection rates vary a great deal from over 65% accepted to less than 10%. I think others would be interested in comparative rejection rates and perhaps how the sites deal with them. Will high rejection rates get you dropped?

    c h e e r s

  • Thomas
    Posted at 05:00h, 19 July Reply

    The IPTC editor from Imatch – http://www.photools.com works like a charm.

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted at 10:26h, 10 October Reply

    My product, DBGallery, is also an excellent IPTC editor. A quick tour via screenshot can be found at http://grrsystems.com/DBGallery/IPTC_QuickTour.htm


  • claudio
    Posted at 06:40h, 08 January Reply

    I would like sites to “download” our files, e.g. grab files from a .zip file on a server, or from an ftp server.

    This would allow us to upload once, and send pictures to many sites.
    I know there are sites allowing ftp out, but the cost for bandwidth is too high.

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