Dreamstime Review

By: Dreamstime.com
Based on 11 Votes

Detailed Reviews

The famous saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” validates the existence of stock photography agencies. Any business requiring creative content such as photo/video/audio will be keen on purchasing the desired item from stock photography agencies such as Dreamstime. Hiring professionals to come up with the same content is a waste of time and money. The Royalty-Free (RF) images save the day of many marketing and advertising companies, among others.


  • Dreamstime’s contributors operate on the community-based spirit, which results in better teamwork. They also pay their contributors reasonably well (commission of 20-50% of the revenue.)
  • They are one of the leading microstock agencies which sell items at a lower price than the Macrostocks. Their RF licenses offer clients valuable content at a relatively cheaper rate due to its colossal content size.
  • Their standard license is RF; however, they avail other copyrights to meet the various needs of the clients. These include extended licenses such as U-EL, W-EL, P-EL, and sell the rights SR-EL, among others.
  • Dreamstime search engine facilitates an in-depth search of content through the use of keywords, categories, and lightbox.


  • The contributors can make a payment request only after reaching the earning level equivalent to $100 or more. It can demotivate some members who then choose to quit from the service of Dreamstime.
  • The contributor relies on the website to host their content, sell, and earn revenue. There may be instances of negligence regarding their automatic billing system and customer service. The contributor may end up losing loyal customers.


Dreamstime is an online community for stock photography, stock footage, and stock music.

Professional or amateur photographers usually get into contracts with one or multiple stock photography agencies like Dreamstime.

They upload their creation on the agencies platform. These agencies check and approve the quality of the images and host the content. Upon any online purchase, they process the payment.

Stock photography agencies thus sell professional photos/videos/music and pay a commission to the contributor/photographers.

Dreamstime started as a website, but in 2004 it was re-defined as a community enabled microstock site. Currently, it is waiving high and recognized as the world’s largest stock photography community.

With more than 26 million users, they host 110 million stock photos. Their community is more than 500 thousand photographers with an average monthly image upload of 3 million.

They are renowned for providing service to the Fortune 500 companies. It is a list of Fortune magazine’s highest revenue earning companies in the US on an annual basis.

Their customer base includes marketing and advertising agencies, the entertainment industry (film, TV, and magazines), businesses, and websites, among others.

Photos are used by almost every business, in their blogs, web templates, newsletters, presentations, prints/posters, catalogs, and brochures.

A company cannot google the required images and use them. They need to meet some license requirements to avoid violating the law.

There are 2 types of licenses in stock photography; Royalty-Free (RF) and Rights-managed (RM). Inclusion of other enhanced rights may be possible by the agencies.

The user of the purchased photo can have exclusive or non-exclusive right on the item. The conventional stock agencies (macrostock), are known for their selective stock, and they charge a higher amount.

The microstock on the other side hosts content at a lower price due to its availability in higher volume. There is also midstock which encompasses the balance between the microstock and macrostock.

Microstock is a comparatively new concept in stock photography and possess inclusive content. Like the RF, whereby the user pays once and can use it multiple times without any extra royalty charges.

The business can opt to create content by themselves or purchase one from stock photography agencies.

Creating any original creative content means employing many resources. All the necessary tools and expertise have to be incorporated to capture a perfect picture.

There’s a need for an ideal location, the right equipment (camera and lighting), and professional candidates in terms of photographer or model.

Stock photography, on the other hand, holds the appeal of affordability. The business spends a few dollars and saves time and money in totality.

Dreamstime is one such tool that delivers high-quality content at a reasonable price.

Its community-based site offers much more than RF content. Their blog, assignment contest, exclusivity, milestone prizes, free images section, referral program, key masters, and secure payment options make it more interesting.

With its flexible licensing options, a wide variety of microstock, in-depth search option, and community spirit makes Dreamstime worth subscribing.

The contributors

Images that are copyright are very crucial and in-demand in this digital era. Businesses are getting tech-savvy; thus, they need digital content for their social media pages, blogs, and websites.

A professional photographer may choose to sign up with stock photography agencies to gain more exposure and earn extra cash. We can call it a part-time job for the photographers.

Dreamstime allows amateur photographers to test and improve their skills. The photographers who upload their content on Dreamstime are known as contributors.

The contributor can upload files or request payment through the management area (account dashboard.)

The contributor’s content submission is accepted by Dreamstime only if it meets some requirement. Let us look at the requirements and then the way to upload items on their website.


Dreamstime offers registration, membership, and image upload free of charge. The FTP option is recommended to upload the desired content.

The contributor can upload their creative content using FTP account. The object of upload should be generic, inventive, and digitally processed.

The content will be used by clients who are looking for unique, original, and eye-catching images/video/audio. They intend to utilize the purchased items in their publications and marketing.

Dreamstime accepts photos, videos, and music in JPG format, RGB and sRGB with a minimum size of 3 MP and maximum 70 MP.

The vector files are supposed to be in raster form; additional formats such as AI, PNG, CDRSVG or EPS extensions are allowed.

Dreamstime work on content levels; they have 5 levels. The price level shows the popularity of the image.

A new image will be at level 1, and it gets purchased and downloaded. With time it receives a certain number of downloads, and the level of the image increases.

The price of the item also increases. The pricing of any content is dependent on the level, which indicates the popularity of the item.

The contributors receive 20-50% revenue share, based on the net amount of the transaction. They also facilitate the labeling of photographers as exclusive contributors.

These contributors need to have a minimum of 50 images. They can submit their content 50% extra on the approval percentage and enjoy 60% revenue share of their sales.

The contributor can request for payment only after their earning amount exceeds $100. The compensation gets paid through bank cheques, PayPal, Payoneer, or Skrill.

The content submitted by the contributor every week depends on the approval percentage by Dreamstime.

Those with approval percentage higher than 80% are free to upload the maximum number of images.

There is 50-80% of approval percentage who can upload half the amount of the maximum number of photos per week. The other ranges are 30-50%, 10-30%, and 0-10%.

The quality and the aesthetic aspect of any upload is the primary focus. Dreamstime reserves the right to reject any content submitted if it fails to meet the commercial and technical standards.

An ETR (estimated time until review) is available for every file submission which is then reviewed chronologically in the pending line.

The contributor has to provide a legal document called model release documents/liability waiver for every individual in the image. The signed document grants permission to publish the photo/content.

One can either download the model release documents of Dreamstime or from an application, e.g., through Easy releases.

Uploading content

As mentioned earlier, Dreamstime can choose to reject some submissions if it lacks in meeting their marketing strategy.

Every agency has a different set of clientele, and they improvise strategies accordingly to meet their audience’s requirement.

The contributor can submit content depending on his/her approval percentage. If it gets rejected, one can enquire on the refusal and seek for resubmission.

Dreamstime is dependent on its community members who upload their creative content.

They encourage their photographers to upload their images using the regular upload or via FTP (requires Java installation and update.)

One needs to add model release documents, a title, description of the uploaded item, and keywords.

Once uploaded, you need to check if it is processed correctly under upload history. To proceed with the submission process, check the unfinished files tab.

There are three submission types available; RF commercial, RF no keywords, and editorial. Select one option and complete the process by clicking the submit button.

These images are available in the pending files tab until Dreamstime team reviews them. The review depends on the pending line and may take a few days.

The user then gets a notification by email on whether the submission is approved or rejected.

The keywords attached with the upload are of importance as it enables the user to search for the item easily.

The contributor can add the keywords, but if incapable, then Dreamstime offers this service.

The contributor has to opt for the keymasters option while uploading the content. The content uploaded is sent to a professional keyworder.

The keyworder then selects the most appropriate title, description, category, and provide the keywords at $0.60/image.

This amount gets deducted from the contributors earning from the sale. Dreamstime encourages the use of keywords that are relevant to the content.

They have features that encourage contributors to upload more content, such as the Busiest contributors list.

The list hosts the name of the photographers with maximum activity within 7 days.

The contributor can also watermark their images to preserve their originality and discourage counterfeit.

Dreamstime’s Stock images

We have already figured out that Dreamstime is the leader in the community based microstock agencies.

Their database has more than 111 million stock photos. It is an indicator of the variety of the content they have to offer for commercial use.

Dreamstime features stock photos, editorial, illustrations, videos, and audios, which consist of the approved uploads by the contributors.

The creation of vector images is via mathematical formulas. They are excellent to design company logos and graphics.

Dreamstime portrays its vast content by providing sections such as Editor’s choice, collection, and free photos.

The collections of Dreamstime are efforts of the community members.  A member can compile content that has the same category, and it can go public only if it contains the work from 5 different photographers.

Editor’s choice section hosts the work of a particular contributor. The name of the contributor is made visible on the website.

The free images are accessible through the free photos section and public domain (CC0) items. The download page displays the number of views and downloads of the free content.

The contributors can donate their images to the free section, and they can have the watermark of Dreamstime.

(Image 5: Free images)

They have several categories of content to meet the needs of all its clients. The categories include abstract, animal, arts and architecture, editorial, holidays, IT&C, illustrations and clipart, industries, nature, people, and the list continues.

Buyer’s perspective

Dreamstime has maintained standards that meet their technical and commercial usage of the content. Their clientele includes the likes of Coca-Cola, Ikea, Walmart, HP, among others.

As mentioned earlier, the use of stock photography by businesses is to cut the high costs related to shooting photos/videos/audio.

A Dreamstime client can purchase anything either via credits or via subscriptions.

Credit packages allow the buyer to download occasionally with no time restriction (one year).

Their current credit packages range from 11 credits (up to 11 images) to 2000 credits (up to 2000 images).

Subscriptions limit the number of downloads every month; there are plans of 5, 10, 50, 750 downloads. They also offer 3, 6, and 12 months subscription plans.

They offer a free trial version for the buyer to get a glimpse of their service. Once a buyer subscribes to their plan, they can browse for the required content.

The content can be browsed via category or using their search bar.

The download page shows the image/video/audio along with other options of RF, and Extended licenses. The different size of the download file costs differently both in terms of credits or subscription.

The Royalty-free (RF) and Extended licenses (EL)

The RF is the standard license of Dreamstime. It is a one-time payment for high resolution and non-watermarked images only.

It can be used multiple times by the account holder or the employees of the company that purchases the content.

The price of the RF content is according to the desired usage, download type, category of the item, and the end-user.

The use of RF content is in newspaper, magazines, booklets, in advertising/promotions, TV, websites, and so on.

The use of RF is limited, and it cannot be applied some content. These include the usage of the material in reselling or re-distribution.

Purchasing the RF license makes one an owner but does not transfer its copyright. Thus, one cannot use that media for reuse or redistribute.

Postcards, posters, logos, trademarks, web templates, or any item incorporating media in redistributing and reselling will require Extended license.

The RF content in the free images and public domain is an exemption from the above rule.

The EL extends the rights given by the RF. There are several types of EL; unlimited seats(U-EL), web usage (W-EL), print usage (P-EL) and sell the rights (SR-EL) among others.

SR-EL gives exclusive image rights and displays full-ownership of the downloaded image. Dreamstime cannot sell the item once the buyer purchases the license.

Dreamstime removes that image from their database within 72 hours. It’s the best method for a company to purchase a logo and a trademark.

Powerful search engine and Keymaster

We know anyone can download Dreamstime’s content by either purchasing their credit packages or subscriptions.

A buyer has an idea of the type of image he/she wants to download, which is targeted to fulfill some specific requirements.

Dreamstime hosts millions of photos/videos/audios and looking for the best one can be a hectic process.

However, easing the process is probable by allowing the buyer to use the search function; the file ID, category, or keywords can be used to search for the desired item.

The search bar also avails a list of categories to choose from, such as photos, editorial, illustrations, or only vector/RAW.

Upon searching any word, the system provides suggestions and related searches. Their multi-tiered search engine is unique among the agencies.

The search results can further be filtered using people, pricing, license, media properties, or through the contributor.

We have discussed the importance of keywords when it comes to searching content from their database.

The contributors can confidently rely on the services of the professional keyworders that Dreamstime employ.

The keywords are similar to the hashtags used in social media. Its purpose is to increase the visibility of the created content.

The easier it is to find the content, the higher the chances of it getting downloaded. It takes a lot of efforts to make sales as there are thousands of contributors, and the competition level increases.

Images may get flagged if they contain irrelevant keywords by the Dreamstime admin.

The use of collection and lightbox is also engaged by buyers to save the searched media. It can be for future use or to share with other users.

A collection can be published publicly, whereas the lightbox remains private. The lightbox is like a cart, once created, it appears on the search page, and one can save items.

Dreamstime has made efforts to provide ease for both its members and contributors. Their FAQ section is all-embracing and hosts various solution for both the contributor and the members.


A stock photography agency is responsible for delivering a vast content of the highest quality, Dreamstime is capable of achieving that efficiently.

Their variety of categories provide the users with unlimited options to choose from, and the search engine plays its role accordingly.

These free collections attract many clients who can then purchase credit/subscriptions to procure the RF content.

Their extended versions of licenses, apart from their standard RF license, also attract photographers as well as buyers.

The contributors are guided to meet the industry’s best practices. If the submissions are not up to the mark, Dreamstime rejects such uploads.

The provision of keyworder improves the visibility of the content. The keywords direct a buyer towards the potential purchase of the item.

The community-based working system encourages one to participate in various activities of Dreamstime.

These include blogs, referral programs, assignments, message boards, social hub, and their various contests.

Dreamstime offers various features, such as account statistics. It provides a graphical illustration of critical areas such as downloads, earnings, acceptance ratios, among others.

They host a merchandise store which sells clothes and accessories. They also have aviled a photo map which allows members to explore the world via their stock images.

They also include stock photography apps, plugins, and add-ins like their app on Android and iOS, Dreamstime WordPress plugin, Google GSuite plugin, Microsoft Office add-in, among others.

Dreamstime may create various opportunities for the contributors to make earnings as they broadcast the content worldwide.

But their establishment of requesting for payment only after making sales of $100 can be a disappointing decision.

We know achieving sales for the new products is challenging. As such if a contributor fails to reach the $100 margin, he/she can quit and discontinue.

The same goes with their level system, which is highly dependent on the number of downloads of the item.

It may take forever for a contributor to reach level 5 in the competitive environment of stock photography.

We suggest that a better structure of pricing will be more attractive to contributors. Currently, the download number determines the level, which then sets the price of an item.

More transparency in the price setting and the payment request may be issues that a contributor may wish for in their system.

Smartphones cameras have evolved and brought about innovation in the field of stock photography. The demand for good creative content is ever-expanding.

Dreamstime has emerged as a winner in the field of microstock by paying a reasonable rate of commission to its contributors. Thus, it can be recommendable to any creative content developer who wishes to succeed in the field of stock photography.

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