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Snapwire, an amateur photographer’s perspective

· How to get started selling stock photos on ·

I recently read an article about Snapwire, a new ios app that is an Instagram-esque stock photography site. But despite a long internet search, I couldn't really find out many details on the ins and outs, except for the standard press release information. So I decided to sign up and see what it is all about. So here is Snapwire, as far as I know it.

The basic premise is for photographers to submit images to specific buyer requests, at varying payouts.  In addition, Snapwire itself creates challenges with payouts for the best or most creative image within the theme.  Buyers will give a brief on what kind of images they are looking for, and sometimes include inspirational shots.  There is a deadline for each request, varying from one day to a month.  Some of the requests, like the one for portraits are very specific, and others are quite open, like the one for plaid.  As the timeline progresses you can see images that have been “nominated” by or the buyer, which indicate photos that are in line with the request expectations.

As a photographer, there are several levels of experience within Snapwire, and each come with some additional benefits.   Everyone starts at the Explorer level and you stay there until someone at Snapwire reviews your initial portfolio items.  After than, points are earned by submitting images to requests or challenges, though in the lower levels you are quite limited on how many images you can submit.  You also earn points each time an item is selected for the Premium Collection (the searchable stock portfolio), have a photo nominated, or have a photo purchased. As you increase in levels of experience one of the perks is the ability to submit more photos to each theme.  And if a buyer is already familiar with your work they can invite you to participate in their requests.   Eventually you can reach the Pro level in which lands you a feature on the Snapwire site as well as on their Instagram feed.  At that point a buyer can also commission a work from you directly.

The social aspect on Snapwire takes a backseat to the buying and selling of images.  If you find a photographer that you like, you can follow them.  But it seems like this feature is meant for the buyer side of the business arrangement. Obviously the goal is to sell images via, and the commission rate is 70% to the photographer.  But I also like the fact that the images do not have to be exclusive to Snapwire.  I’ve started looking through my old files to see what sleepers may fit some of the requests, but I’m also starting to think about stock images when I’m out photographing.  It’s interesting to see what customers are looking for, and to see what stock images other photographers are shooting.

While Snapwire is an app for ios smartphones (or ipads), you can also go to Snapwire on  a web browser from any computer, using  This is especially handy when uploading an image.  As of right now, you cannot upload an image directly from Instagram to Snapwire, but you can upload directly from Flickr, Google Drive, Picasa, Dropbox, or your computer (when using the browser option).


  • To fast track your portfolio review by Snapwire try submitting a question to their support team after you upload your initial images.  I stumbled upon this accidentally as I noticed my portfolio keywords were not actually showing up as keywords in any general search.  Not only was Snapwire very quick in responding to my question, but my portfolio was approved and I advanced to the Shooter level immediately.  Since you are given 10 “invites” to share with other photographers, promising those photographers a faster review, it seems that the review process normally takes a fair amount of time.  And the answer to my question regarding keywords is that only items selected by Snapwire to be in their Premium Collection have any searchable keywords.
  • Read the creative brief for the request.  Read it again.  Before you submit any images read the brief one more time.  This is the buyer telling you exactly what they are looking for.  I’m amazed at the people who submit images to requests, obviously only having read the request title.   Don’t waste the buyer’s time, or your limited submissions.
  • From my research, images are more likely to be nominated earlier in the request timeline.  Since nominations are worth more points in terms of leveling up, and since a nominated photo is more likely to catch the buyer’s attention, it is always good to have a photograph nominated.  I  submit several images as soon as I see a new request, and then wait to see what kind of images are selected for nominations.  I use my remaining number of images I can submit (based on my Snapwire level) to follow those examples.
  • The whole premise of Snapwire is to create stock that doesn’t look like traditional stock photography.  This is especially evident in challenge nominated images.  Think of low contrast, low saturation, medium depth of field photos.
  • Learn more about Snapwire in my updated posts – 2 years in and Geographic requests is free from the itunes store, give it a try and you could earn money from your photos!  Click on the quick link below and get started!

September 4, 2014


  1. Reply


    May 25, 2015

    I’m on snappier, applied to 10 challenges, not a single purchase even though there was over 1000 great photos, has anyone sold there yet?

    • Reply

      Jennifer McCallum

      May 29, 2015

      Hi Jan,

      You can see what has been purchased on Snapwire by going to Menu – Marketplace – Purchased, though I only seem to be able to access the “Purchased” category on a mobile device, it’s not an option on my computer. But I feel your frustration, I’ve submitted over 450 photos to various challenges and requests, 34 have been nominated, 30 are in the Premium Marketplace, and no sales. I definitely prefer the requests over challenges. To be fair, there are some amazing images out there and the purchasing decisions can take a lot longer than we might imagine. I’ve come to the decision that if I have an image that fits a request, ready to go, I’ll submit it. But it doesn’t make sense for me to shoot specifically for a Snapwire request or spend a lot of time prepping an image, that time is better spent in other areas.

  2. Reply


    October 25, 2015

    Can they use your photos without paying you for them? I don’t want to spread my photography to be used for free.

    • Reply

      Jennifer McCallum

      November 27, 2015

      Hi Elle, I’m sorry, your comment was caught as spam and I just saw it. No, they cannot use your images without paying for them. There are various pricing models based on the size of the image that a client may purchase. However, sometimes I feel that some of the ad agencies create a request to create a mood board for their client, without necessarily intending to purchase any of the images. But they are not publishing them anywhere. Hope that helps!

  3. Reply


    April 1, 2016

    Hey Jennifer,

    Are you able to give an update on your Snapwire experience?

    I see you are stll active and your points tally has rocketed since you wrote this blog post. It’s evident that you have over 100 images that have been nominated and you have more than 5 times that number selected for the marketplace. But what does that mean?

    Do those stats translate to a healthy number of sales? Of those images selected for the marketplace, what percentage have been selected as premium and do those premium images sell well? Also have you been contacted directly by buyers to participate in any requests?

    A lot of questions but I am just at the point of deciding whether or not to take Snapwire seriously and your feedback will be invaluable.

    Ps. Is there any way to upload multiple images at a time or does it really have to be done one by one – filling in keywords manually as you go?

    • Reply

      Jennifer McCallum

      April 1, 2016

      Hi Milton,

      Thank you for your comment. And for the motivation – I’ve been working on a series of updates to my original post, and I really need to start publishing them! So I will start a weekly update and information post on Snapwire, with all that I have learned over the past year.

      To sum it up, I do think that it’s worth taking Snapwire seriously as a stock photography site. But that means having serious amount of patience and time to build up that stock library. While my points have risen the actual payout has not been significant, yet. I made more profit at Creative Market, but with their recent change of licensing terms I will be taking down all of my images from that site and will focus more on other avenues like Snapwire.

      Most of my images submitted to Snapwire were images that were languishing in my computer, but I have started to shoot specifically for requests as long as it doesn’t require a large financial outlay. I bought some glasses and a bottle of champagne for one shoot – I didn’t get the award (though I did get some nominations/points) but I can use those glasses and the champagne was delicious :). I’ve found some of the challenges to be great creative motivation and I will add those ideas to any shoot list. Afterwards I will submit some images to Snapwire and some to other stock agencies so even if I don’t get results from Snapwire I have still built up more portfolio shots.

      And I’m afraid that you’re correct – you do need to upload each image individually and add the keywords or captions. If the image is accepted into the marketplace Snapwire will actually go in and do the keywording for you, which is nice.

      I hope I’ve answered your immediate questions and please check back soon as I will add more information on my experience with Snapwire.


  4. Reply


    April 1, 2016

    You have indeed answered my most immediate questions. After doing a bit more digging around I have decided to submit a decent number of files and see how it goes for 6 months.

    Thank you for your response and for sharing your experiences. I look forward to the next update!

  5. Reply


    June 10, 2016

    I just recently got the app and I’m just confused as to how you get the payments and make transactions. Do I have to set up a card to it? Can money be sent other ways? Thanks!

    • Reply

      Jennifer McCallum

      June 12, 2016

      Hi Sara!

      It’s very easy to be paid by, either by PayPal or by direct deposit. I believe you can only set up your payment method and request a payout while on a computer, I was unable to set up my payment preference on my smartphone. Log in on a computer and go to My Account (top right corner) and select Payouts. Choose either PayPal or direct bank deposit (you’ll need your account and routing numbers for direct deposit). Once it’s set up just click a button to request your payout. Hope that helps! Good luck!


  6. Reply

    Cathy Flynn

    September 18, 2016

    Hi Jennifer,

    I have tried searching the Internet and can’t seem to find an answer… Is there a way to submit already-uploaded Snapwire photos to new Challenges or Requests? I have since gotten a new phone and unfortunately lost some of my photos… can’t seem to download the photos back, or find a way to re-submit to new requests. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Jennifer McCallum

      September 22, 2016


      I’m sorry to hear that you lost some of your photos! Unfortunately there isn’t any way to re-submit images to a new challenge/request after they’ve already been submitted. The good news is that once you have uploaded an image it remains in your photo manager and is still available for sale through the general marketplace on Snapwire. If there are just a few images that you’re trying to get a downloaded copy of you could check your photo manager, get the photo id #s, and email support at Snapwire to see if they can help you out. They’ve always been very responsive when I’ve emailed them with any issues.
      Good luck and please keep me posted!

  7. Reply

    Valeka Turner

    September 28, 2016

    I have uploaded pictures to my portfolio, can i use a portfolio picture for a challenge? If so, how do you do it and do I need to use my computer instead of my smartphone to submit to a challenge. By the way I just started, so I am at the Explorer level.
    Valeka Turner

    • Reply

      Jennifer McCallum

      September 29, 2016

      Hi Valeka, welcome to the Snapwire team!

      You absolutely can use any of your portfolio photos for a challenge but you need to re-load the images each time you want to submit them to a new challenge. I would suggest creating an album on your phone or a folder in your post-processing software to keep track of what you have submitted. That would make it easier to submit them to future challenges. I use Lightroom and I add “snapwire” as a keyword and sort all my submitted images to a smart collection to keep it all straight.

      Snapwire makes it pretty easy to submit via your phone. Open the Snapwire app on your phone, go to the Challenge/Request that you’re interested in, and at the bottom of the screen you should see the “Submit Your Photo” button. Click on that to bring up four options – Cloud, Creative Cloud, Camera, or Camera Roll. If your images are not available in any of those locations you will need to use your computer to access your files. Otherwise you should be good to go!

      Best of luck to you, hope you’re able to level up quickly (you’ll be able to submit more images to each challenge as you increase your rating)!


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