500px Prime Goes Live, Will Offer Photogs 70% Off the Top Instead of 30%


When 500px announced that it was introducing its own photo licensing feature, 500px Prime, the company received a lot of backlash from photographers who thought a 30% cut was far too little.

Well, it looks like 500px was listening. Because Prime went live yesterday with a significantly more favorable payment breakdown.

Rather than the original 30% cut photographers were said to take from the initial announcement, 500px made a solid PR move by switching it around and promising photographers 70% of the $250 per image licensing fee.

The downside is that it seems $250 is as high as the payment scheme goes. In the original announcement, the company stated that licensing prices would start at $250, insinuating there would be higher tiers. But, with 500px Prime now live and plans finally spelled out, it appears that $250 is THE flat fee for royalty free, worldwide, unlimited use across all media… forever.


Many are already arguing that 70% of $250 isn’t enough for perpetual rights to an image, but it is a vast improvement over the 30% cut. At $175 per image, it may or may not be worth it to many, but some will see it as a much better opportunity than many of the other options out there, and I tend to agree with them.

My personal opinion on the situation is that 500px went about this in a responsible way across the board. They came up with a plan to allow users to license their photographs, announced the terms and finances behind it, and after getting justifiably torn into, they changed their plans to better put the content creators first.

A 70%/30% cut seems fair to me, as it’s the exact same cut Apple utilizes for their apps and media, which we all know has faired well for creators. Sure, many will disagree that downloading a DRM free song that you own forever is different than being able to use a photograph however a person or corporation would like, but it’s important to remember that no one is forcing you to use this service over any of the others.

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500px righting their wrongs a bit by increasing the cut to photographers sets an important precedent that will put some pressure on other stock photography services to do the same so they don’t lose their client base. It may not be perfect, but competition amongst providers is always welcomed.

Plus, the flat-fee of $250 is going to entice a lot of smaller companies, corporations and even individuals who want a simple pricing structure. Rather than having to spend time figuring out how and for what they’re going to use the image, they’ll go to 500px Prime knowing that with X amount of dollars, they can get X amount of photos. It makes the market much more intuitive on both sides of the equation.

Of course, that’s just my opinion on the matter. What are your thoughts on 500px Prime and its updated conditions? Is $175 enough for complete rights to one of your photos, forever? Let us know in the comments.

(via Imaging Resource)

  • Tobias W.

    Well, every photographer should decide if that’s what they want for themselves. It’s not for me, but then again, that’s just my view.

  • David Liang

    It’s a step in the right direction, they’ve made a bold move that’s an improvement over what Ghetty et al are doing. They deserve some recognition for that.

  • kodiak xyza

    in comparison to Getty “et. al.”, one has to consider the market reach of 500px for the 70% to 30%… even in some rough order of magnitude. no article seems to go into this key aspect as they mainly echo the announcement.

    after all, if one sells one photo and gets a 70% cut, the income is still small compared to 10 photos sold at a sliding scale (keeping a minimum of $250 for the sizes that 500px sells) and with a 30% cut.

    if most companies are looking for web-sized images, then the frequency of 500px usage could also be lower in light of Getty’s non-commercial use announcement.

  • Glen Berry

    In theory, if my sales were brisk and consistent enough, I could be happy with a maximum of $175 per license sold. I’m skeptical about achieving that level of sales though, because of all the competition. I definitely appreciate the 70% cut, and I wish all agencies offered something at least comparable to that.

  • Renato Murakami

    With the recent moves of the competition, I think we at least have to be somewhat thankful to 500px for trying something different… even if “forever” and “for all purposes” are really reaaally hard things to swallow.
    Seems it’s quite clear by now that photographers seeking that line of business will never get a true fair deal.
    But the key thing here that really shines on 500px Prime is that it’s being offered as an option. So at this point, I’d be really glad if tons of photographers who are jumping out of Getty, for instance, would consider going that way.
    Unfortunately, it’d require a huge migration and a huge move out of Getty and to 500px for them to even reconsider recent changes.
    But I guess the announcement couldn’t be more opportune. If there’s any chance of forcing policy changes on big companies, this is probably the best that’s coming in a long time…

  • ExposedMyselfAgain

    For any use? thats got to be wrong… so in other words if someone want to make an advert for a travel company they can get a photo for billboard use and travel brochures for $175? That sounds ridiculous…

  • Guest

    I think it needs to be clarified as 500px hid this information. $250 is not the minimum license fee. It depends if you let your photos become exclusive to 500px or non-exclusive. $250 seems to be the “listed” price on the website, but as most agencies go, a client will contact them directly and work out a more exclusive personalized license. This is quoted from their website.

    “While both licenses offer $250 price per photo, an exclusive image can be potentially licensed for “exclusive use” for a set period of time, for several thousand dollars in most cases. Once a photo is licensed for exclusive use, it can not be sold commercially during the time period negotiated. The photographer will earn 70% of the license cost.”

    Read more about this info on their Prime FAQ which was updated today to go along with their new terms:

  • Toby Harriman

    woops sorry for duplicate comment, feel free to delete mod.

  • Jan Uwe larson

    well not that your images are good enought to be bought for 250$ anyway.

  • kowd13234

    how many billboard travel photos did you shoot?
    zero i guess?
    people who make images worth a bilboard size will not sell on 500px.

  • TheLandSlide

    Now Jan that would depend on the buyers point of view but is there really a need to be rude?

  • Matt Sweadner Photography

    Jan, that comment was totally unnecessary and non productive as well as childish and immature.

  • Matt Sweadner Photography

    That’s immaterial – It’s the fact that it could happen.

  • Tobias W.

    The joke is on you, “Jan” (if that’s your real name). I successfully sold my work at the Affordable Art Fair in London, Los Angeles and Paris with prices starting around US$1000 per print. I made it into the finalists of Travel Photographer of the Year (2010) and got other awards as well.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m doing rather well regarding positive reception of my work from critics and art buyers. How about you show us some of your work, loudmouth? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    To elaborate on the point of not being interested in 500px’s offer: it doesn’t make sense to sign away ALL rights to a single image for US$250 when that effectively hurts my ability to sell fine art which depends on exclusivity and small editions. In that sense, this service is not for me. I’d rather not damage my reputation as a fine artist than making very little money from occasional stock photography deals. I play around with 500px as well and I get contacted frequently by other users who want to use my work in a commercial context. When it comes to negotiating terms, I have to turn all of them down regularly, because they think they’ll be getting something for next to free. It doesn’t work that way.

  • l0k

    My photos sell as prints but I’ve never tried licensing them online. They are of the wrong style, and I can’t imagine any publication or commercial enterprise for which they would be appropriate. 500px contacted me a couple weeks ago to request some of my photos, and I see this as very exciting.
    Serious photographers, such as professionals who need to maximise their income, spend ages comparing the terms for different licensing services. I’m not at the stage where I need to be too protective of my content. I’m just happy that I’ve been given this opportunity, and would be thrilled to license my first photo.

  • Raven Photography

    Don’t rise to it, good old internet trolls…