Our Review: 

I have to admit a few years ago (2006) I thought these guys were a bit of a cowboy start-up without much chance of success, wrong was I! Dreamstime was a little later on the scene (2004) than some of the other major microstock sites but has now made up any ground that might have lost them, with more than 49 million images as of Nov 2016.

I now receive a quite good income (but not exceptional I admit), with downloads of most of my photos, including those that have not sold on other sites. Recently sales have dropped off a little, mostly likely due to my somewhat poor acceptance rate at dreamstime, I'm not certain that acceptance rate (the ratio of your upload photos that are accepted compared to those rejected) affects the frequency that your photos appear in the search results of image buyers, but something has led to a drop in my overall sales despite regular new uploads. It might be your acceptance rate over all time or just that of the past few months. The statistics section of the site gives you a view of everything you might need to know. Be careful what you upload to dreamstime.



Dreamstime sell basic images at a very reasonable price which I'm sure has contributed to their success. As a bonus to contributors the cost of more popular images increases in tiers as the number of downloads increases.

Royalty rates on dreamstime are tiered according to how popular an image is. Popular images earn 45% royalty reducing down to 20% for less popular 'Level 0' images. Despite the change from the previous 50% flat rate this still offers one of the best royalty rates for microstock photographers whose photos sell frequently. Exclusive photos from non-exclusive photographers attract an extra 2-5.5%. Exclusive photographers are always rewarded 60% royalty on sales and $0.20 for each new accepted image.


Dreamstime Tips

Although I personally upload the same title, description and keywords to each microstock site, dreamstime place a high emphasis on the image title in their search engine. More than 25-30 keywords and your image may appear in more searches but will have a lower 'rank' (dreamstime secret sauce) and hence not rate as highly. Interestingly dreamstime rank each image individually, the overall upload quality of you as a photographer does not weight an individual image, so one good image can sell well from a batch of many bad ones. I'm not suggesting that you upload more images to dreamstime, although the effect might not be as pronounced I feel you could still make small gains by pruning non sellers from your portfolio - perhaps because your low selling images no longer show up as "more similar stock images". source (video interview on youtube)



I recommend this site to upload your whole image portfolio to, it should be included in your top five. They offer an excellent royalty rate to volume sellers, multiple language and European sales office base provides additional spread to your image portfolio. Dreamstime does appear to have been struggling over the past couple of years with competition growing and being ovetraken by canstockphoto but they continue to work well for me, just behind Fotoila in my 2015 earnings comparison.



Visit dreamstime


Site Details
Media Types (in addition to RF Images): 
This site accepts editorial images
This site accepts video footage
This site offers a dedicated free section
This site accepts vector illustrations
(sort by agency)
Real US$ Cost of 1 Standard Image: 
14 (compare prices)
Referral Scheme: 
Yes - 10% of buyers purchases and 10% purchases from referred photographers' uploads for three years - excellent. (compare rates)
Exclusivity Options Available: 
Both Exclusive Images and Contributors (compare)
Cost of a standard image (1600x1200) 2MP approx: 
7 Credits
Royalty Rate: 
20-45% non exclusive, 60% for exclusive photographers (compare)
Cost of 1 Credit (basic): 
$ 2
FTP Upload: 
Address: ftp://upload.dreamstime.com Username: [your user number, NOT your login name, see site]

Multiple Combinations of Downloads (5-750), Length of Subscription (1 or 12 month),
Monthly: 10 images/month $39
Annual: 10 imagesmonth $399
Annual: 50 images/month $1400

(compare subscriptions)
Reseller: XML (list all)
Site Statistics
Approx. size of photo collection (0 = no current estimate): 
133,000,000 Images (compare)
Alexa Traffic Rank: 
971 (a measure of the site popularity, lower number is better)
Alexa 3 Month Change: 
-73% (measurement of the increase of site popularity compared with three months ago, negative is a decrease)
fan page link (list all)
@dreamstime (list all)
dtrank.com (aug/11)
Overall Rating: 
9/10 (compare sites)

Marie Appert 's picture


Marie Appert (not verified) on Thu, 2008-06-19 18:02
I agree. My sales on Dreamstime are great. And I love that I can cash out my earning as soon as I reach one hundred dollars. I don't have to wait until the end of the month for a pay out. I also like Dreamstime's management area. They have a great "statistics" page that shows me graphically how well my sales are over time.
gary718's picture

Dreamstime teams up with MySpace

gary718 (not verified) on Tue, 2008-10-21 21:18

From Dreamstime Website:


Our efforts to bring you more buyers have paid off once again. We have just started a cooperation with social-networking website MySpace. With about 235.000.000 members, MySpace is one of the biggest worldwide websites of all times. Using a Dreamstime image selection, MySpace members will soon be able to easily create and send real printed greeting cards to their MySpace friends and family's home addresses. This service is for personal and individual use only. Each greeting card will be of the same high quality as greeting cards you would buy from a shop; in full colour on greeting card paper. MySpace will actively promote this service to its members from the beginning of December in Europe. This is a pre-launch announcement. The official announcement for Myspace is scheduled in around one month from now.

Steve Gibson's picture

Myspace Postcards

Steve Gibson on Thu, 2008-10-23 00:07

Sounds good, 6-7c per card is pretty good compared to a one off royalty of a couple of hundred that is common in the postcard and calendar industries (after spending days chasing a sale!).

This should boost sales of landscapes, abstract and perhaps travel (local landmarks etc) which are normally poorer sellers compared to 'stock concepts'.

and your credit on the printed card - bonus!

Fingers crossed for some sales.

Site Administrator

Anonymous's picture

Terrible inspectors

Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 2010-01-29 16:06
They are not very friendly towards new people. Reject images for very dubious reasons and like it if you over saturate images to the point that they don't look real. Some guy called 'Red' hungs around the newbies forum giving grudging advice and treat us like children - better he just kept it to himself.
Steve Gibson's picture

We all started somewhere

Steve Gibson on Sat, 2010-01-30 00:00

(noted that the above was posted with suspicious/possibly false email address)

I guess I'd probably be thanking red for his offers of help (no matter how well hung he is :). The saturation issue is a bugbear of mine too, with almost all agencies. BUT it's not the agencies fault, the buyers buy them, sad but true - the agencies just supply the demand. It's taken me years to get over "leaving saturation to the end user". The ready to drop in images are the ones that sell, "cheap and cheerful".

An innocent angel loses it's wings each someone buys an HDR photo.

InfotronTof's picture

Friendly community ...

InfotronTof (not verified) on Thu, 2010-10-07 14:52
Hi.. just wanted to say I've been with DT for a month now and even though my acceptance rate is low (I think I simply went too fast an flogged some of my older photos to build myself a portfolio quickly).. This was a mistake but I think the site is pretty well run and there is a sense of community that I haven't really found anywhere else... The collections, blogs, forums better there (my opinion) than other sites ... I'm also on BigStock, 123RF and Fotolia.
john's picture

DT, SS, FT, etc...

john (not verified) on Fri, 2011-03-04 11:48
well, I have to admit that you get different incoming between microstock agencies according to: - the time you entered the agency (some of them now require photographers to pass an entrance test, which might be very difficult for beginners); - the size of your portfolio; - how professional you are (concerning both your gear and your skill); - how often you upload new photos.
Lance's picture


Lance (not verified) on Fri, 2011-10-21 16:02
Stay far away from DT. I've spent the last 15 days trialing their service and here's what I found. -- Their support is unhelpful and only check their email once per day. -- Their submission process is cumbersome and instructions inconsistent. -- You have no ability to delete or control uploaded photos. Once uploaded it's stuck and support will NOT work with you to delete or replace images. -- Some of their reviewers even insult submitters. I had one guy call a lingerie photo "Porn" and rejected it. -- They offer a phone number to call for help, but in 5 days no one ever answered it. -- You can not delete or remove your account, photos, model releases, etc... Their canned answer to everything in the forums is "email support" but support says you must do it from your own profile page, however, there is no button to do most of the things they say. It's surprising to me that they are still in business at all. They are most likely being carried financially by the few long-term contributors. I expect to see them fall into the ditch with most other mismanaged microstocks.
Steve Gibson's picture

DT Problems

Steve Gibson on Sat, 2011-10-22 11:25
You say trialing, I dont think you can 'trail' at microstock, is very much in for the penny in for the pound. I'd not heard from anyone else with quite such problems. bad day?
Scott L.'s picture

Just wasted a week on this site.

Scott L. (not verified) on Wed, 2011-11-16 23:44
I just wasted a week of my time with this site. I uploaded about half of my best images to their site, painstaking keyworks, descriptions, geolocations and all. Every image was rejected with some of the most common suggestions being poor lighting (on a sunny day), take a look at the most popular images and resubmit, and along the lines of we don't support this type of image right now, with the latter being some great waterfall images from Maui. I reviewed some other images: Hard drive on fire, lots of paper balls crumpled up, things of the like. I know they aren't all like that, but honestly, I know my pics are better than that. What I am glad they rejected all my photos before I spent another week uploading the rest of my images. I tried to close my account, seeing that I had no public pictures as none were approved, but they would only let me suspend my account. Really?
Steve Gibson's picture


Steve Gibson on Fri, 2011-11-18 09:50

difficult for me to respond without seeing the images:

bad light on a sunny day - often sun makes the lighting too harsh?

keywords and descriptions should already be enbedded into your images so you don't have to do that for each agnency you submit images too - geolocations is a bit harder till someone sorts out standards: for your travel images they are worth geolocating for the future, again do it once embed and then never worry that much again.

sounds like your images were not that usable as stock photos (?) - a few iconic images of famous waterfalls will sell, as will some *pefectly* executed generic landscape with waterfalls, but those scenic subjects are I think a bit of a dead horse to flog. "Hard drive on fire, lots of paper balls crumpled up, things of the like"  That's exactly what table top stock photos are about, they sell. not all the images are like that indeed, and not all sell as well as they don't illustrate a concept.

S. Carvalho's picture

Hi, Been browsing your site

S. Carvalho (not verified) on Fri, 2012-06-29 00:13
Hi, Been browsing your site today. I'm thinking of getting into microstock to supplement my income. I was wondering if you would still rate Dreamstime the same or if some other agency has since risen to the top of your list? Thanks for your excellent and helpful articles. Shimona
Steve Gibson's picture


Steve Gibson on Tue, 2012-07-03 10:46
I rated dreamstime slightly higher than the other sites for various reasons including a combination of good sales and high commission rates, good site operation and review feedback. The ratings are a perceptual part of my review, and they vary as the sites change their business models/rates etc. The ranks that sites are assigned come directly from my earnings (sometimes needing estimates). I'd rate the big 4 sites on a broadly similar level, the difference is not great, and shutterstock out perform dreamstime even though commission rates are lower (sales volume higher).
Anonymous's picture

Dreamstime Review

Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2012-08-07 19:40
I have used several stock image websites, and I have been completely disappointed by this site. The interface is a mess which inhibits any chance for navigation being intuitive. The resulting process is a digital black hole of clicks, excessive tabs, disappearing images, and account details that seem to change whimsically.
Joe Armato's picture

Dreamstime Stole my Photos

Joe Armato (not verified) on Fri, 2012-12-07 01:39
I strongly would advise folks to avoid Dreamstime at all costs. Maybe they were once a good micro stock site. But my experiences tell me just the opposite. Not one thing went right. It was very difficult to get started. They were totally unhelpful by telephone, their members totally ignored any help I asked for and their email assistance was pretty bad. Once I finally got started their review people were very insulting and rejected many of my photos in a very insulting manner. Worse yet they stole many other photos and gave their own photographers the commission on them. I've been writing to them over and over about this and they're just ignoring me. As if that's not bad enough my computer caught a virus which I'm almost certain was from their site. Perhaps they treat their long time photographers well, but newbies should stay away, FAR AWAY!
Steve Gibson's picture

Hard to take seriously

Steve Gibson on Sun, 2012-12-09 07:39

 I find those comments hard to believe, and without a link to your protfolio / profile / facebook whatever hard to take with any credability.

but newbies should stay away, FAR AWAY!

Microstock is a great place to learn the stock industry, but depending on the level of the noob!, you need to first be a good potographer and have at least a bit of business sense before you 'try microstock'. We all started somewhere, buy that somewhere was usualy not diving straight into a microstock agency.


stan's picture


stan (not verified) on Sat, 2013-09-07 05:18
upload files...2 weeks still pending...and no response customer service sucks at least at istock I get instant answers....
BigAppleStock's picture

Thumbs Up

BigAppleStock (not verified) on Mon, 2014-04-14 16:30
I joined Dreamstime as a photographer a few months ago (previously, I had bought a couple of images from them) and shortly after I decided to become an exclusive contributor. I have to say, it's been a great decision. Dreamstime treats its exclusive contributors really well: you get 60 percent of the sale price, plus 20 cents per approved upload. If you're considering going into microstock, I enthusiastically recommend Dreamstime.
johngrovesart's picture

Newbie view.

johngrovesart (not verified) on Wed, 2014-05-14 20:07
Only just got into stock photography, used the camera for shooting source material for my artwork and to populate my social network pages. Decided if I was out shooting anyway I may as well try and create another income stream. Took the top 6 sites from here and started applying, tests and quizzes, because I am not from a professional photographic background (Bfa though)I was expecting across the board rejections (am waiting to retry with Shutterstock though, lol), but found that I was getting a good response. Dreamtime was a perfect place to get going with, 30% of my first uploads got in, and a good explanation of why the others failed was given. The site seems to be a lot easier as a learning ground than the other 3 I am now with. Gotta say thumbs up.
Kazaki's picture

I've been around Dreamstime

Kazaki (not verified) on Sun, 2015-07-26 12:25
I've been around Dreamstime for about a week now and got some of my images approved, but my acceptance ratio is very low (only about 20-30%) because I really suck at photography, but I'm not stopping until I get my first sale. I only use an Xperia Z2 that was a gift (because I'm a very poor person who can't afford gear) so yeah, I hope I get my first sale even if it takes a million years. The only problem with me is the very low processing time of images, and a lot of my pretty hibiscus photos were rejected, saying that they already have tons of that on their site. Uhm, okay then. And also MORE IMPORTANTLY, the site says I have 32 images on my portfolio but my uploads and latest photos only shows the first 6 that got approved. I wonder what's up with that? Can anyone help me out? My portfolio's here: http://www.dreamstime.com/kazaki2103_info Thanks!
Are you serious?'s picture

Are you serious?

Are you serious? (not verified) on Mon, 2016-01-04 04:41
Clearly Steve is on the payroll or banking on referrals. Amateur hour.
Steve Gibson's picture

Results from sales only

Steve Gibson on Tue, 2016-01-12 23:50

Results that place DT at 5th place this year, down from second in 2012 are based on sales only.

Referral income is always an interesting reference figure for me, it gives an (vague) insight into sales of other photographers on that site or how well buyers convert - that's a key measure of a sites success. It's next to impossible to compare referrals across sites with those figures, agencies keep them purposefully abstracted so they don't give away too much of their financial position. So referral revenue is not used in any comparisons.

Needless to say I'm not on the payroll.

more reading about comparisons:

vero's picture

Hello, Could you tell me

vero (not verified) on Sun, 2016-02-28 22:02
Hello, Could you tell me how CSV works on dreamstime Thanks for helping me
Steve Gibson's picture


Steve Gibson on Sun, 2016-03-06 07:57
to download an earnings report or for submission of keywords?

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