Jan. 30, 2019, 11:09 a.m.

500px and Licensing Your Images

I recently was approached by 500px that one of my photomicrographs was picked by a potential customer for purchase, and they asked me if I would mind licensing it for sale through their distribution partners. I read the terms and agreed. After uploading the full version, it was ready for sale. About two months later I received an email notification from 500px that my image sold:

500px Commission
500px Commission

I was elated. Now I could finally put my keyboard down and retire - buy a house and see the world. Oh wait what?! I guess the denomination USD does help - it is 1.34 times more in Canadian Rupees.

So I reached out to 500px and asked the following:

Waldo Nell
Jan 30, 12:00 EST

Thanks for the response. Getty is asking $175 per small image. I got paid $2.88. Split three ways (33%) that is $8.64 for a single image. It is just not what I expected and really, really much lower than what I usually ask for my images (even considering the 3 way split).

So do you know who would have sold it for that low amount even by your (one) distribution partner’s standards?


The response I got after a bit of a back and forth:

REDACTED (500px)
Jan 30, 13:25 EST

Hi Waldo,

With Distribution sales an additional party is added to the equation, so it’s important to keep in mind the gross sale amount is split 3 ways.

There's also sometimes a difference between a list price and the actual sale price. Our distribution partners work with key accounts and high value clients that at times may request large volumes of images. Our partners may negotiate a discount and other times may offer promotional pricing to incentivize these clients. Being flexible with pricing gives distribution partners leeway to entice more clients to do business with them.

I hope this helps clarify. Please let me know if you have other questions or concerns.



I searched Getty images for my photo and found it - lowest asking price is $50, so where is my $16.50?

Getty Images - Fern Stomata
Getty Images - Fern Stomata

So caveat emptor: If you license your photos through 500px, you might be selling your work for free.