Selling Photographs the New Way: A Look at ImageBrief


Those of us that sell our images through stock agencies, will know that the stock industry falls broadly into two camps, microstock and macrostock. Microstock works on the pile-them-high-sell-them-cheap principle whereas macrostock tends towards higher quality, more exclusivity and higher prices. The big problem with both models for us photographers is that you need to play the numbers game, that is, submitting large amounts of diverse images in order to increase your chances of a return. Of course this means a whole lot of preparation work on images that may, or indeed may not sell: a time consuming and often boring process. In recent years however, a third way has been emerging, most notably in the form of ImageBrief. 

What is ImageBrief? 

Well, the idea is quite simple. Rather than submitting copious numbers of images in the vain hope that some will sell, the buyers come to ImageBrief and as the suggests, post a brief on what images they are looking for. Photographers can then submit suitable images to the brief.

Signing up is a simple task. You can sign up, either as a buyer or a photographer via your email or by using your Facebook account. Once you have entered your basic details, you will be asked to provide a link to an online portfolio in order to vet your work. Make sure you link to your very best images and not a random selection of snapshots, you will need to be able to demonstrate creative and technical ability to be accepted. Only once you have been accepted to ImageBrief will you be able to view and submit to the full briefs. 

Submitting Your Details

Once accepted, you need to fill out your profile a little more, with personal details and most importantly notifications. Notifications allows you to define what sectors of the photographic industry you wish to receive briefs from. Examples include, automotive, landscape and travel. You decide what your specializations are, and then how often to receive the briefs, this can be either immediately or a summary. Personally I choose immediately as some briefs have a very short lead time and you could miss out on submitting if you don’t receive a notification until the end of the day. Under profile, you can add a selection of your most suitable images to create an online portfolio.
My portfolio page on Imagebrief  by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr

Receiving Briefs: New Opportunities

So with your account set up, you will start to receive briefs from ImageBrief. This takes the form of an email, which once clicked will open the brief up on the ImageBrief website. Typically, a brief will have basic details of the industry sector in which it will be used, followed by a written description of what the client is looking for. There will be a budget range for the image and a deadline. Image buyers also have the option to upload reference images to guide the photographers towards their requirements. If you feel that you have suitable images, you simply hit the Upload button and submit up to ten shots with brief caption and location details These will be vetted by ImageBrief then forwarded to the client.

The client has the option of creating a shortlist of potentially usable images from the shots submitted, if your shot makes the shortlist, then you are in with a higher chance of being awarded the brief. At the top of the brief you will see the timeline, this tells you it’s current status, from accepting images, through creative review to the brief being awarded. As well as receiving notifications, you can choose to view all briefs on the ImageBrief website. Clicking on an individual brief will open it’s details. In some cases, an image that you submitted from a previous brief may be suitable for a new one. If so, the editors at ImageBrief will email you asking if they can submit that image to the new brief.
Typical set of briefs by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr

Licencing and Financial Aspect of ImageBrief

Well, all images are rights managed, meaning you should not submit images that you have sold elsewhere on a royalty free license, you need to think carefully about what you submit. You, as the photographer retain all rights to the image. The commission to the photographer is a very respectable 70% and the sale prices can range from a low hundreds all the way up to five figures.
A shot sold via Imagebrief by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr

Does it work? 

Well I have submitted to a number of briefs, been shortlisted for several and sold one image, for a price that would be significantly higher than, for example, Alamy under the same license. So, in my opinion, yes it does work, what works best though is that you are only submitting images that stand a chance of sale, this means less work is required in order to see a potential return, and that can only be a good thing.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

Hey thanks for the suggestion Jason.
Am I reading correctly that one can only send in pictures that are NOT YET on any of the other stock-sites, like Shutterstock or iStockphoto ?
That’s a pity, ‘cos most of my work is already on there, so it will not be eligible for ImageBrief then I guess…
Or am I missing something?

Hi Wim, I use ImageBrief as well and ran onto this article. You can not submit microstock. These are higher-end advertisers and publishers who expect higher-end images. You can submit rights-managed images that are with other agencies as long as they are non-exclusive and the brief does not ask for exclusive rights. I believe I’ve seen a few briefs where RF was mentioned as OK as well.

Hi Jason,

Thanks for taking the time to write4 about ImageBrief, glad you had had a good experience at the time. I’d love to hear what your experience has been like over the past 6 months?

Additionally, if you haven’t signed up, you might be interested in the Dream Shoot campaign we’re running where we’re sending one lucky photographer on a trip to take a shot they’ve always dreamed about (whatever that may be).

You can see more details here (note: you need to be registered/logged-in to see the link):

Thanks again for writing about us. Look forward to hearing from you!



ImageBrief is another cancer for photography, ripping off creators by crowdsourcing and letting buyers tell you what you should charge for your services. Most of the rates they offer are WAYYYY less than they are used to paying for a production team to create great images.

I see they now want you to pay for a premium subscription as well to get briefs like the one I saw for MAC cosmetics where they are looking for someone to supply a studio and photography for free as a “test”. Bullshit, the images will end up in some sort of advertising or social media blast etc. etc and the image creator gets nothing.

Bottom line, more cancer and if you submit to them, you’re contributing to the elimination of photography as a viable career and lowering the bar on good photography.

What I don’t like and can’t do is send these files large enough to print into posters, ( the briefs I looked at at least), with no watermarks which are essentially in their control for as long as they like. There’s absolutely no way of knowing after that where or how these images are sold / used. It is totally up to their discretion to be up front and honest about all their transactions, especially the ones you’re not aware of. This only invites problems, if they want to “broker” a deal they only need thumbnails to do that. When the sale’s in place you can then send the appropriate size file. I’d work with that kind of model, sending large files that can turn up in markets in Asia / Middle East, (i.e. places I would never look at), only encourages theft of property.


You could make that same argument for practically any photographic job. If you’re constantly afraid of being ripped off, you’ll also push away the 99% of legitimate folks.

You’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater.


I have been using Imagebrief for the pas few weeks and i m getting a bit confused. I submitted an image based on the buyer description. after waiting for 4 weeks finally the image which won the auction if you would like to call it has very low quality in terms of lighting and composition and i believe my image was way better than the nominated image therefore i just wanted to ask you guys would the quality of photos play an important fact in advertising . I use Nikon D5300 my photo resolutions are 6000×4000 300 DPI. lets say does a full frame camera has more chances of winning those briefs ?

I see this is an old post, but I thought I would add my comments anyway.

I recently joined ImageBrief. I di that on the recommendation of a photographer on LinkedIn, suggesting an alternative and/or supplement to traditional stock sales. I don’t shoot stock, though Getty has approached me a few times.

I simply did not want to go through the process of shooting on spec and hoping for sales. Like Jason says, playing the numbers game. After years of photographing people and places. I have a deep archive of images just sitting there. My submissions come from my archive.

I do see this as a buyer’s paradise, but that’s the nature of the business today. If you have other, better means of creating revenue with your images, by all means use them. ImageBrief is a supplement for me. Any income derived is simply bonus income.

The creators are aware of licensing and usage issues and sensitive to the needs of the industry. PLus, they are good business people. I wish I had thought of this!

Imagebrief requires photos not to be personally watermarked as they put their own on it. I was taught never send your image without your watermark on them.And they want hi res to boot.

They also have the right to use your photo outside the brief, for their needs.

Any advice?

I have been on image brief for over a year. Nothing has been purchased from me. I have not paid for the subscriptions, I just have the free submitting one. Some of my photos were not even looked at according to their notification that says your image has been viewed. I too look at the ones that “win”, and can’t hardly believe anyone would buy most of them. Some are really really bad. Also, if you think about how the photos are being used, the photographer is really getting ripped off bad. So I have kept submitting to a small amount of the briefs, but nothing has sold. I cannot pay for the subscription and I suppose that is a good thing, since it is likely a rip off. I am considering trying Dreamstime.

I just quit Imagebrief. I had been one of the “founding” member or whatever they call you.

My thoughts are that after seeing most of the briefs are wanting high production value/cost images for less than what they cost to create. It also appears that creatives are using the system to get ideas. There isn’t a comp or layout, just some random thoughts that need everything released. Really?!

It’s a great business model for the entity that is the middleman, they get paid by wishful thinkers and the image buyers get the image they want from time to time for way less than it would cost them otherwise.

When I saw that there is some woman that they say is successful at shooting the briefs on spec and she really didn’t have much revenue, it got me thinking and as time went on, I got to the point that it’s the disrespect of what we as photographers bring to the table that enable entities like Imagebrief to assist in making photography an unsustainable business model. You really want great looking people in a setting where everyone is released and exactly done as you need with lighting and huge file sizes? Hire a team to produce it for you. Why should photographers be the one that take it in the shorts because they need to spend more on online/social media placement? Let them find alternatives to Google/Facebook/Twitter/Vine or whatever the platform of the week is that is more cost effective at reaching the audience.

The people making the requests expect to be paid well, why should photographers be any different?

Beware of having your images stolen. After a year with Imagebrief it is apparent that unless you pay the $60/month premium membership, your images will never sell. Nor will Imagebrief ever respond to any emails or questions you have. If you do try to contact them you will receive a reply that they do not have time to get back to you unless you are a premium (paying) member. They also go thru your images and submit to vendors without your permission, only notifying you after the fact that this is what they did. I am quitting as there are other organizations out there that surely must not scam people like Imagebrief does.

This is an update to my earlier comment.

I tried Imagebrief for a few months, but realized it is a platfrom designed to sell valuable work (or most work) at extremely low rates. It is a buyer’s paradise. Sellers are like chattel. Even the lowest end Getty stock prices are better than Imagebrief’s rates and Getty actually sells the work, whereas Imagebrief may never connect you with a buyer.

The platform looks good and the Imagebrief folks are smart and well trained, but my advice to those looking for markets for their work is to look elsewhere.

Thank you for this article, but here is my opinion, and I am glad others believe the same.
This company is a scam and only for money .
I had a free account with them for a few months and I uploaded about 10 pictures to their agencies contests.
One day I received an email saying that my pictures are not as good as others. For all those months I had a free account they were sending me 2 emails per day to sign up for a paid membership, but I refused, so they kicked me out, but they kept the pictures I uploaded and I can’t delete them. They don’t answer emails or FB messages. Only of you have a paid account. What a crappy company

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