Snapwire's Basic Guide to Image Licensing

Snapwire makes it easy for you to sell your photos, but through industry jargon and special clauses it can be hard to tell exactly what happens when someone purchases your image. Don’t stress, we are here to sort all that out so you can feel confident about where your work is going and how you are compensated for your talents.

On Snapwire’s site, this is all listed out in detail and fancy lawyer language through our copyright and licensing tabs. For those of us who don’t understand legal talk, here are:

Eddie Rios_PRO_eddierios.jpg

8 Licensing Topics You Should Know

Photo by: PRO | Eddie Rios

Copyright & Copyright Buyout

The basic definition of copyright is: a form of protection given to the authors or creators of original works of authorship. What you create is yours! You own your work and what happens to it. Yay! We won’t sell your work unless you give us permission! (So make sure your settings in your content manager on your profile are up to date on all your uploaded images!)

I hate that I even have to say this, but as Snapwire respects the intellectual property of others, we ask our users to do the same. Do not upload photos that aren't yours. That is stealing.

So what does it mean for you when a buyer seeks copyright buyout? It seems threatening and a lot of photographers steer away from it purely cause it sounds like you are selling your soul and giving up your creative rights. This is not the case. When a client asks for a copyright buyout it means you no longer own that photo and can no longer sell it or make money from it.

To sum it up, you take a photo for a client and no one else can use it. Imagine you take a photo of your fluffy pup Snowflake for a company. If they buyout your copyright, only that company can use the photo for promotion. This means you cannot post it on multiple stock photo sites, let the random pet food instagram repost it, or even print it as a gift for your sister in law who owns a “wigs for pets” salon.

No one can buy your copyright without your permission and you should be compensated higher for full buyouts.

Marketplace vs. Challenge/Requests vs. Profile

Snapwire is multi-dimensional. This makes it fun and creates a variety of places to earn, but it can also get a little confusing about what it means when your photos are uploaded or selected for different areas.


The Snapwire Marketplace is a selection of the best shots submitted to Snapwire offered to buyers through a subscription. Shots chosen for the Marketplace are flagged as Select or Premium and are only made available for download for buyers who subscribe. It is an easy way to not only sell your photos (Creators earn 50% when shots are downloaded from buyers in the Marketplace,) but for buyers to accumulate specific unique shots within their subscription period.

If you would like to remove any shots from the Marketplace Subscription, you can simply change the licensing status on your file or delete them from the Content Manager section of your account.

Challenges & Requests

You are all signed up on the platform! Now what… Challenges and Requests are ways to work directly with brands and push your creativity to produce work through specific concepts.

Challenges are hosted “competitions” that focus on a specific theme with one winning photo selected at the end of the allotted time. Challenges are open to any level and a great way to earn points through nominations and submissions.

Once you've reached the Advanced level, you'll be eligible to be invited to Requests by buyers. These are higher paying and give you the access to work with some of our top clients. They are handled the same way through nominations and final selections.


You can submit shots to your profile and build a great portfolio at anytime. All shots uploaded directly to your Portfolio are available for buyers to purchase a license. Remember, you can control whether or not your images can be purchased or selected to the marketplace through your content manager on your profile.

Upload your best shots to your profile to give Snapwire Creative Recruiters and Buyers a chance to see what you can do. Think clean, commercial, bright, and diverse.

Premium Content

Premium shots are curated to the top of search results due to their commercial potential. This provides more opportunities for your shots to be sold. AKA you shot a rad image and we want to promote to our buyers!


Exclusivity guarantees the buyer that no one else can purchase the image during a pre agreed period of time. On average, our buyers ask for a two year exclusivity. You will be compensated extra for any exclusivity purchase.

 Photo by: MASTER |  Israel González

Photo by: MASTER | Israel González

Royalty Free

On Snapwire, you will only find royalty free imagery purchases through our Marketplace. But what does that mean exactly? A buyer will pay a one-time fee for a royalty-free image license and can then use the image as many times and in as many places as he chooses. The "free" in royalty-free does not mean there is no cost for the license, but instead refers to being able to freely use the image without paying additional royalties. A small-business owner, for example, may opt to pay a one-time fee for RF images for his website, but can also use it for social and promotional value. Being royalty free does not mean you cannot sell your photo to another buyer - there needs to be exclusivity contract involve to pull it completely off the market.

Permission Releases

Releases are important because they protect you from potential lawsuits where people claim invasion of privacy or defamation after you’ve photographed them.

Model Releases:

In order to submit a shot to Snapwire, you agree you have the permission from any identifiable people in the submitted shot in order to sell it. Imagine you sell a photo to a major brand featuring a recognizable person, but the model didn’t sign a release. If that person sees their face on a huge billboard and becomes upset, they can sue because you never got written permission to use or sell the photo. There have been a number of high profile cases like this, and they can get messy and expensive. You can use our model release app; Releases.

Public spaces

Do you need a property release? If your shots contain recognizable trademarks or personally owned property (like a identifiable store sign, branded product, logo, or other identifiable private property) it is best to have a property release as most buyers look to license shots for commercial use. As this is not always possible, be sure to capture shots that mitigate this issue.

 Photo by: ELITE |  Andrii Sarymsakov

Photo by: ELITE | Andrii Sarymsakov

Have some questions that you didn’t find the answers to?

Read more on our FAQ page and always feel free to reach out to the Snapwire Team.

As always, Happy Shooting!

Free Snapwire Ebooks Now Available!

Want to know more about how you can succeed as a buyer and photographer in the industry?

Read our ebooks for more than tips and tricks about how to improve your brand's processes as well as how to produce content that is effective and cost-efficient. We want to help your brand to become more successful. Learn insider knowledge that you can utilize on a daily basis. 

Below are all of Snapwire's FREE ebooks that can also be found on the Resources page. We hope you enjoy. 

How-To: Create Authentic Local Content at Scale
Why is it important to create location-based content for your brand?  The biggest brands in the world realize that location-based visuals are personal and focused. They are starting to segment their audiences out by location to implement location-based materials into their campaigns. 

 Get the  ebook  today!

Get the ebook today!

Why Seasonal Content Converts

27M pieces of content are shared every single day (and that number is only growing). With social media and ever-expanding content platforms, relevancy becomes increasingly important. Being constantly bombarded with content, consumers have been forced to adapt - with ever decreasing attention spans and quicker than lightning decisions. In a matter of seconds, consumers know whether a piece of content is relevant and important to them and if they don't deem it so, they're quickly scrolling on to the next thing. 

What does this mean for businesses and brands, who rely on content for conversions? In order to stand out in the noise, brands must produce high-quality custom content that's relevant to their audience. One way to do this is to create seasonal content campaigns. The key here is making sure the content your brand is putting out is tailored to current events and your target audience's interests. This will make it instantly stand out because it's relevant and personal. Further, if you're able to create a campaign of localized seasonal content that's even better. 

One of the most difficult parts of obtaining custom on-brand content tends to revolve around the actual creation of the assets. This is because the options are limited for brands and businesses. They can either search through stock libraries to find seasonally themed images, but typically it's close to impossible to find images that perfectly match your brand aesthetic. On top of that, if your brand contains a product, stock photos will fail because they will contain generic items (not your specific product). Alternatively, brands can produce the content themselves in-house or hire a photographer to shoot something custom for them. These options are good ones if you have the budget and turn around time to get it done. 

If you're like most brands, forced to scale their ever-increasing content needs under a relatively small budget, Snapwire may be the solution. We're a Content-as-a-Service platform that uses our global community of 400K photographers, proprietary technology, and superior creative briefs to get brands beautiful on-brand content at scale. In fact, we're stoked about our solution and want to help brands get content that converts. We'll be offering brands 10% off a seasonally themed or location-based shoot through the Fall. You'll get access to our professional roster of photographers, and be matched up with a dedicated Snapwire creative team member to help execute your vision. This offer will end December 21st. 

If interested, shoot an email over to with your creative vision and ask about the 10% off deal. 

Images That Captivate Millennials

Flat Lay Images

Millennials love to document their lives. They also love to see what someone else is doing in their life, especially from people they trust or look up to. The classic flat lay image has become a staple among food enthusiasts and millennials. This unique view does not provide very much depth to the viewer but still appears pleasing to the eye as everything is neatly arranged. Flat lay images are always a guaranteed safe bet. 

Human Scale

It is in our nature as humans to try and gain a greater perspective on that which is bigger than us. Images that include a person with a vast landscape really grab the attention of Millennials as it is something they can relate to. All of a sudden the image is something you can picture yourself in, which is a comforting feeling. 

Bright & Vivid

Millennials like a spark of flash so you better hope your photos have some as well. Bright and contrasting colors really grab someones attention and make them look at the photo longer and harder. It also tends to evoke positive emotions which is never a bad thing (unless you like being sad). While darker tones and colors may work during the fall, brighter colors signal warmer and happier times. This fits perfectly with Millennials generally optimistic outlook on life. 

SnapFiction: Struggle of a Stock Photo Buyer

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and meant for entertainment purposes only!

Meet Steven Miller. Miller works for a lifestyle blog that focuses on trending topics. His boss wants him to write an article on millennials and the outdoors. Snap is excited about the project, but the deadline is in 24 hours. He needs #authentic stock photos. And fast.

Miller does what any first time buyer would do. He types " wilderness stock photos" into Google and clicks on the first result. This will be a piece of cake! he thinks to himself. Little does he know that he is about to embark on a seemingly endless and fruitless search into the world of stock photography.

Alright, Miller thinks, I need an image of someone standing alone in the wilderness. He types "wilderness" into the anonymous stock photography search bar and hits enter. A barrage of photos appear, "Showing 100 out of 4,000 images for 'wilderness'" the page reads. Miller sighs and begins to scroll.

 Photo by:  Blake Bronstad  (Steven Miller grew a mustache, don't question it)

Photo by: Blake Bronstad (Steven Miller grew a mustache, don't question it)

Hmm, he thinks, this image has potential... but wait, haven't I seen this exact photograph five times on other stock photo sites? He shakes his head and clicks to the next page. He finds another potential image, but it is so obviously posed and "stocky" that it seems wrong to use it.

 After several more hours of scrolling, Miller discovers what he thinks is the perfect photo for his article. Yes finally time to purchase! he thinks to himself. He clicks to purchase button and freezes... his blood runs cold.  This is way out of a lifestyle blogger's budget!  Miller exhales and puts his head down in defeat.

 Photo by:  Diego Cervo

Photo by: Diego Cervo

Steven Miller does what anyone would do in a time of crisis. He calls in backup, in the form of his fellow lifestyle blogger Wallace. 

The two grab some caffeine and put their heads together for a last minute brainstorm.

"All we need," Miller says, "Is authentic, affordable photos that fit our idea."

Wallace laughs, "That's impossible! If something that good existed stock photo companies would be out of a job."

MIller laughs at Wallace's antics and says, "Even better, what if we could make a request for a specific photo, and photographers respond, that would be ideal."

 Photo by:  Melanie Riccardi  (Miller and Wallace have the all denim thing down)

Photo by: Melanie Riccardi (Miller and Wallace have the all denim thing down)

"Wait a minute," Wallace sits up, "My buddy has been using a site like that recently, some kind of photo request system where you can detail what you want and people submit their photos for selection." 

"What, well what's it called?" Miller exclaims.

"Snapwire!" Wallace says.

Miller quickly and excitedly types "snapwire" into the search engine.

"Wallace! You've done it!" Miller exclaims, "This is exactly what I was looking for!" 

 Photo by:  Andrew Kearns  (Steven Miller's winning photo!)

Photo by: Andrew Kearns (Steven Miller's winning photo!)

"I'm glad I could be of assistance." Wallace smiles, and returns to his desk to write about the dying of traditional stock photo industry and the uprise of instagram.

Miller efficiently types up a creative brief asking Snapwire's users for a solitary person in the wilderness representing authentic living. He sets the timeline for 24 hours and writes the article in the meantime. When he returns to purchase his photo, he has several beautiful, unique images that are exactly what he is looking for. He purchases one and publishes it in his article. The article receives over 10k shares and as a result, Steven Miller is promoted to head his department. He continues to use Snapwire for all of his stock photography purchases, and converts the entire blog readership into Snapwire users as well. 

What Is Shadow Banning On Instagram And Is Your Account Being Affected?

If you are an avid user of Instagram - whether as a photographer, marketer, or art director- you have probably noticed a few months ago that your overall engagement and reach has dropped with little explanation. This affliction has been coined "shadow banning" by the online community at large as it seems to be affecting thousands of Instagram business accounts. This blog post is to help you understand what exactly shadow banning  is, how to know if you are a victim, and a plan of action to regain your account! 

Shadow banning is when Instagram reduces or removes the visibility of your account by making your hashtags unable to be seen by users who aren't following you. While you can continue to use your hashtags, their purpose is deeply undermined because new users cannot tap into your brand's message when they search for your used hashtags. Since you think that everything is okay on your end you continue posting but are only met with a decrease in likes, comments, and stagnation in new followers. 

Instagram has responded over the confusion and anger over hashtag search issues saying that they are working on improving the system and that businesses should "recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags."

So how can you know if Instagram has shadow banned your account? The easiest way to find out is to ask a few  friends (who are not following your Instagram page) to see if your posts are appearing on your intended hashtag pages. Try out a few hashtags and if your images do not show up it is safe to assume that you have been shadow banned. You can also check out this link to test out your account. 

If you have determined that your account has been shadow banned don't freak out! There are different ways you can fix this and get your account back to normal. It seems that the reason most accounts are shadow banned are because they are violating Instagram's Terms of Services and are abusing the purpose of the app. If you are shadow banned or scared you might be in the future, follow these steps to make sure your account is safe:

1. Stop using bots, automated growth tools, and buying followers

Instagram can tell when you leave automated comments on profiles of potential users and follow and unfollow many users in one day. While these methods increase followers they keep engagement painfully low. Even if you haven't been punished for using these methods you're hurting the reputation of your brand. 100 dedicated followers is always better than 10,000 users who don't care about your content. 

2. Change up your hashtags up

We all get into the habit of using the same old tried and trusted hashtags for our brand. Get into habit of refreshing your hashtag lists often. There is a list here of hashtags that Instagram has banned due to spanners. Make sure that you aren't using any of the ones on the list. 

3. Avoid all growth hacks

Now is not the time to be breaking Instagram's Terms of Service as it appears that Instagram is in crackdown mode. Some users adding 30 hashtags to a comment and then 30 hashtags to their caption so that they can have 60 hashtags on one post. This isn't super effective but it is a loophole that many users are getting around to up Instagram's hashtag limit. However, if you simply follow Instagram's rules you do not need to worry about the possibility of being shadow banned. 

4.  Take a break for a few days

If you've decided to ditch automated bots,  delete broken hashtags, and forget about growth hacks, you will need to take a break for at least two days in order for your account to reset. Once you reset you will need to manually engage with your audience if you want to see growth. 

5. Follow the trusted "3 likes, 1 Comment Formula"

This is a method that bloggers and marketers have created to drive engagement. Its premise is that you have to engage with others in order for them to engage with you. Start off by finding users through relevant hashtags and location search. When you like and comment their photos you will show that you have genuine interest in their lifestyle. While this takes time it can bring you followers that find value in the content you push out. 

This is a relatively new development so facts are coming in everyday. Make sure to stay up to date to keep your account visible. Remember that social media platforms are based on algorithms and bots that are largely out of your control. What you can control is forging genuine human interaction and connection around your brand. So go out there and talk to your potential followers and your current followers, offer them your attention and time without demanding something from them first. 

13 Places to Find Free High-Quality Design Resources

Are you looking for great new design resources? Of course you are! Everyone loves finding new inspiring design resources.  Even though we'd like to, we simply don't have enough time to make everything we need from scratch, so we've decided to save you some time and energy by compiling this list of 13 high-quality free design resources.  Enjoy!  

Pixeden is a premium design and web resource company. They release free web and graphic design templates on a regular basis.

Dribbble offers a place for designers to show and tell.  View the freebies tag to see the latest free resources from the Dribble community.  

Agile Designers is a great resource for design and developer resources.  Save time with the sort feature and sort by popularity to see what others like most.   You can even save and organize your favorites.  

Psddd. is a collection of design resources from dribbble.  Sort by category or use the handy search bar to find what you are looking for.  

Creative Market offers Free Goods of the Week.  Six resources are made free for 7 days before they return to full price.  Be sure to check back weekly to see what is being given away free that week.  

Graphic Burger has premium quality design resources offered for free to the community. On Graphic Burger you can find exclusive PSD files and featured excellent freebies from designers around the world. 

Iconfinder is the best resource we've found for free icons.  It boasts a very large collection of over 340,00 premium icons. You can browse sets of icons or search for them individually.  

Premium Pixels was made by Orman Clark, a UK based web designer.  Premium Pixels is where he shares his design resources. He even puts up tutorials every once in a while for good measure!


Brusheezy provides a place for artists to create and exchange Photoshop Brushes, Patterns, Textures, and various other resources that are related Photoshop. You can explore and discuss the creations of other artists and find that perfect resource for your next project.

Free Vector Maps is a large library of  free and premium high detail vector maps created for designers all over the world. These maps are really awesome and new maps are released all the time. 


Best PSD Freebies  provides artists with free high-quality PSD files for web that you can’t find anywhere else. They have icons, buttons, banners, ribbons, website templates, email templates, and lots of other free Photoshop files.  

Purty Pixels is a venture started by Rich Tabor of Theme Beans.  The site is really easy to browse and there are tons of great design resources that you can download for free.  


Subtle Patterns offers free high-quality tileable textured patterns from Alte Mo.  These are great if you are looking for a more subtle background for your project.  

Final Thoughts

Don't forget to give credit and acknowledge creators for their hard work.  A little gratitude really does go a long way.  Please let us know what you think about this collection and do let us know about other resources that you love so we can add them to our next collection!  

Licensing: Why does it Matter and What does it Mean?

Initially, most if not all licensing, was done through a “Rights Managed” system. The Rights Managed licensing of an image presented an image at a price dependent on several variables including the type of usage, the specific final project, the time the image is being used, the size of the final print, and the industry for which the image is being used.  The downside to this licensing structure is that image sales can fluctuate significantly according to the final usage of an image. The rights managed model also requires that photographers and agencies periodically check with image buyers to ensure that image usages have not continued outside of the allotted time period. These sorts of issues have helped shape the industry to what has become the new standard of “Royalty Free” licensing. 

So what exactly is a Royalty-Free license?  First off, there is nothing free about a Royalty-Free license.  The “free” in the term comes from the fact that an image buyer is not required to pay a photographer a royalty for each use of the image.  Royalty-Free licensing was quickly adopted by creatives, as it allowed for images to be purchased once, and used indefinitely without the worry or need to renew a license.  This licensing model was introduced in order to counter the “per use” fees associated with Rights Managed sales. The one-time fee also allowed for more images to be purchased and at a more affordable rate.

Snapwire falls into the newest and most revolutionary type of stock photography.  We are a firm that believes in the value of photographer’s photos, as well as in providing quality content and great licensing terms to our buyers. We work with a community of over 450,000 photographers to source the best images directly to all levels of designers and art buyers.  Snapwire works as a form of hybrid stock agency, representing and licensing images from a traditional royalty free marketplace, while also connecting photographers directly with buyers to provide them with unique and custom produced content.  The model works to bridge the gap left in traditional stock photography, so creatives never again have to settle with an image that is just “close enough”.  Snapwire also presents a more cost effective method of custom photos for advertising agencies and designers.  Prior to Snapwire, quality custom photos required production shoots, which were often limited by restrictive budgets.  For a buyer, Snapwire allows for a price per image to be established by their project budget.

As an asset to the photographers, Snapwire is beneficial in a few distinct ways.  The first is in providing access to agency projects and briefs in an open source platform.  Before Snapwire, it was almost unthinkable that most photographers would be welcome to work directly with advertisers and companies.  In working directly with companies, photographers are able to produce meaningful content, and increase the likelihood of their images being seen and purchased by advertisers and companies.

We hope that this brief explanation of licensing was informative. While definitely not the most exciting subject, the more informed you are the better your chances for success. We welcome you into our community to grow and learn as a photographer or buyer.  Good Luck and Happy Shooting!