How Does Payment from Stock Photography Work

I have written a series of posts on Beyond Here about stock photography, and specifically about micro stock photography. It has been exciting that readers of Beyond Here have opened micro stock photography accounts and are starting to earn an income from their images.

If you’d like to read those earlier posts, two of the most popular posts are here:


One common question from new stock photographers is ‘how does payment from stock photography work?’ My first advice to these photographers is not to worry about downloads and income in the early stages of their stock career, but to focus on building their portfolio. But I understand they still want to know how the payment function works. So here we go.

Pay Day

You need to meet the minimum payment level before requesting a payment

1, Minimum Payments. Each micro stock photography site has a minimum payment level. That is the minimum you need to exceed before you can request a payment. I assume this is so that the micro stock sites are not processing thousands and thousands of very small transactions.

I am an exclusive contributor at iStock where the minimum payment is USD$100. That means, when your balance from royalties from downloads of your images exceeds USD$100 you can request payment of those funds. Other micro stock sites may have different minimum payment levels. When I was contributing to Shutterstock in 2008 and 2009 the minimum was USD$70.

2. Payment Method. Again, the way that you get paid can vary slightly depending on which site you are using. Using iStock as the example you can currently choose between cheque, Paypal, Skrill, pre paid Mastercard, or direct deposit (for US account holders).

I live in Australia and have always used PayPal as my payment method. iStock hasĀ a published weekly payment schedule, and the funds appear in my PayPal account within 5 business days from that date. From there I transfer the funds from Paypal to a nominated bank account. It takes a few days to appear in the bank account, but it is a very simple transfer process.

3. Payment Frequency. iStock’s payment terms also outline that you can request only one payment per week. I assume this is so that they are not processing multiple payments to a single contributor. When you are starting out, the USD$100 minimum will seem a long way off. But with persistence it won’t be long until you are requesting a payment every week.

The payment process from micro stock sites is straightforward and they are processing thousands of payments each week. You will need to look into what are the payment methods your stock photography site offers, and then set up the appropriate account. For example, if you decide to use Paypal, you will need to set up a Paypal account and link a bank account to it. This is also a straightforward process which can be done online.

So if you are starting out in stock photography, don’t be anxious about the payment process – it’s easy. Instead focus on building a portfolio of quality stock images and trust that the downloads and royalties will come in time.

Thanks for reading ‘how does payment from stock photography work?’ I hope it has been useful for you.

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