Adjusting Our Focus: A New Approach for Photos at Envato

As PhotoDune nears its fifth year, we’ve decided to pause and take stock. Today, we’re shutting off new item submissions, the first step in a major renewal project likely to span the next 12 months.

Why, what’s going on?

Up until now we’ve focused on growing the depth and breadth of our photo collection. By the end of year one, we’d passed a million photos; today, there are almost ten times that amount.

But more is not necessarily better. Library growth has consistently outstripped sales growth and an increasing number of items (and authors) have never made a sale. All of this despite an ever-increasing stream of customers we know frequently use photos in their projects.

It’s time for a new approach.

Over the next year or so, we plan to make a series of improvements to how we do photos at Envato, across three main areas:

  1. Our photos offering to customers: We’ve introduced new quality standards as the starting point for transforming PhotoDune into a finely-tuned, quality-driven collection. In 2017, we’ll also be giving customers a photo subscription option via Envato Elements.

  2. Our relationship with authors: The biggest change we’re making here is to switch from reviewing items to selecting authors who we trust to upload only the best quality content. We’re also going to let authors decide item prices on PhotoDune. This means more control for authors and more time for us to develop resources and tools for author success.

  3. Our photos platform and the technology behind it: Our UX for uploading, storing and showcasing photos and its underlying infrastructure are in serious need of an upgrade. Our main goal here is to lay the groundwork for future improvements.

What does this mean for PhotoDune authors?

At the heart of this project is a vision to increase opportunities and improve the experience for talented photo authors. When we’re finished, we’ll have delivered:

  • More responsibility and control through author-driven pricing and the freedom to instantly publish your content (no more review queue!)
  • More exposure on the new, slimmed-down PhotoDune
  • A new channel for earning via subscriber share on Elements
  • Better support, tools and resources for managing your business

More immediately, however, we’ll be inviting PhotoDune authors to refine their portfolios against the new quality standards. As a guide, we’ll be providing authors with personalized feedback, including an assessment of their portfolio’s overall quality and specific examples of photos that do and don’t meet the new requirements.

Authors who are ultimately able to achieve a very high level of quality across their entire portfolio will get early access to the new PhotoDune and Elements. While we’re committed to bringing over as many authors as possible, a higher bar likely means some of today’s authors won’t be joining us in tomorrow’s world. At least from day one, that is - even if you don’t make this initial cut, you will have another chance to be part of it when we reopen portfolio submissions in the future.

So, what’s next?

This is a massive project with a lot of moving parts. We’re currently working to the following timeline, although it’s likely to change along the way - we’ll update you all here as it does.

  • November
  • Stop reviewing new item submissions (starting today)
  • Switch to single resolution to prepare for author-driven pricing
  • Disable PhotoDune uploads
  • December
  • Assess portfolios and email feedback to individual authors
  • Invite qualified authors to participate in the new world (including Elements)
  • Re-enable uploads for qualified authors
  • Launch author-driven pricing
  • Start removing portfolios that no longer meet the new standards
  • 2017
  • Launch new upload center
  • Enable photo uploads to Elements
  • Begin offering photos on Elements
  • Launch PhotoDune shopfront improvements

Massive! But we’re excited by the challenge and motivated by the knowledge that we’re ultimately delivering a better deal for our high performing authors and customers.

More info and discussion

We’ve tried to cover the most important points here and left the fine print to the following help center articles. We’ll also be sharing details of how we’ll be assessing quality and managing post-review outcomes in the feedback to authors set to go out in December.

New PhotoDune Requirements

Helpful Info About Being an Envato Elements Contributor

@natman and @jamesgiroux will be on hand to answer questions and, as we’ve done in the past for big announcements like this one, we’ll be providing batches of answers every few days. Please make sure you’ve read through these and the help center articles first as we’ll only be responding to questions not yet covered.


Sounds good.

  1. What happens the the images already in the queue?
  2. When are you stopping buyers buying from photodune?
  3. What happens to users accounts and money that you deem not to be accepted to the new format?
  4. Those that are accepted, will their entire port be included?
  5. Will accepted users need to resubmit any existing content?

Its typical, I just became full time artist photographer last month dedicating my life to creating. Now Photodune life hangs in the balance, hopefully for the better.

Good luck all

Wow! Quality over quantity… That’s a bold move into the right direction!

I only wish this announcement would read ‘Audiojungle’ instead of ‘Photodune’… :wink:

But maybe it will at some (hopefully not too distant) point in the future? The problems there are exactly the same.


I like this idea. Hopefully it’ll encourage those who use Photodune to really invest in more quality photos and not have to fight against the huge wave of low quality products.

1 Like

Good idea. Waiting for same on VideoHive.

1 Like

Dang it… After years of using the Envato platforms to complete projects for my clients, I finally decide to become an author for Photodune at the moment these changes are implemented. I think it’s an awesome idea, but my timing is horrible, lol!

1 Like

This is a very short notice.

Will it happen to audiojungle, codecanyon, themeforest too? Soon?

Will we be at least notified with a couple of months before just suddenly turning off new submissions like here?

So is this the plan? To shutdown the Envato Market and move slowly completely to Envato Elements?

We would love to know in advance, because there are people here who left their real time jobs in favor of authoring on Envato Market.


This seems like a bit of a helping the rich get richer approach.
I understand the need to reduce files that don’t sell but at the same time as a buyer on the marketplace I try to buy items that don’t have a high number of sales. I don’t want to purchase a high selling item because there is more chance of it being on every other website, I want something a bit more unique. I think there maybe other reasons why items aren’t selling other than quality. Photodune was a unique site but this change sounds like it’s moving in the direction of other sites and competitors.

On another note, any chance you could look into creating plugins/UI panels for applications people are using the items in so they have a direct in app link to the marketplace?


Will inclusion in Elements be mandatory? Selling unlimited subscriptions for $49 / month is insane, that’s just undercutting all other markets and will only lead to further erosion of photographers income.

The idea of letting authors set the price is fine and getting rid of inspections also. Now you just need to adjust the percentage we’re getting (to around 70% of the sales price including all kinds of fancy fees…).

“Quality over quantity” always sounds good, but very much depends on the definition of quality. Let’s wait what that means.

I haven’t contributed any files here for years (a combination of low royalties, low sales, low prices and completely nonsense rejections). These changes do have the potential to improve things, but it could also make things worse. Let’s wait…

I think it would have been helpful to have an easier way for Authors to clean up their Portfolios. I have a couple of thousand photos on here and I have been trying to clean up my Portfolio for awhile but the process is so tedious in the way it is set up. There are too many steps to delete just one photo. If this process was simpler I believe it would have solved the over flow of bad photos. As I learn and grow in my skills, I am always looking back and saying wow, I was so proud of that photo when I took it but now I don’t want it in my Portfolio any more but it literally takes hours to go back and delete old, non selling work out of my Portfolio. If I could select multiple photos at once and delete them all at the same time, my Portfolio would only have a few hundred photos if that.

Edit to add:

I would also have been grateful for the consideration of a longer notice to these changes, as someone who has helped you earn money and build your company I think we deserved the proper tools to keep the Photodune marketplace portfolios cleaned up. At one time, we were all accepted by you and our images were accepted by you for sale. Yet, now we are being punished and set aside for your top earners. Not really fair, is it? Maybe all of us wouldn’t make the cut when the new requirements are put into place but I think we should have been given the chance to try. A simple rule of non-selling items will be deleted after 6 months on the marketplace and an easier to edit portfolio would have made a world of difference.


I agree with simplifying the portfolios

Bad but just :slight_smile: I agree. Needless to increase the number of authors and images if the number of customers can not cover the offer.

Practically the opposite of that company policy of the other big agencies that are slowly destroying the work of many authors.

If you’re stopping Photodune to think through/reorganize your stock offering, are you going to pay out the balance you owe to all your contributors’ account, regardless of whether their earnings meet your minimum payout or not? If you want to reset and start from scratch, it’s only fair that you pay out whatever you owe contributors now before you start from a clean slate.


Completely agree. Sounds like they are going more specialty, which means only specialty artists. The concept of quality over quantity means they are more aligned to the boutique-type model. I have crummy images that sell ALL THE TIME elsewhere. Sales are so low here that this change will almost certainly help push me out the door. It’s bad enough that they masquerade as a marketplace when they are in fact an agency, but now to have ports either culled or closed because you don’t make the cut means doom for many contributors. The rebranding of PD means a complete overhaul in policy and that means starting over.

I’ve yet to see Envanto come in here to answer any of the posts. Mainly because it is bad news for a high percentage of contributors. Good luck, Envanto. But your buyers will defect and that means years and tons of money trying to get new ones.

1 Like

I too would like to know if there are any future plans of implementing these changes to other markets, like AudioJungle. While I think the changes are welcome, it’s a little alarming that authors were given such short notice.

In others words they wish to transform PD into a marketplace style version of Envato Studio? You know where only the chosen few get the opportunity to make a little more while everyone else is left to wonder. Its an intriguing approach but how does one know the end result will be to everyone’s liking?

No two buyers will have the same tastes in regard to photos and their subject matter. This is quite alarming especially considering the changes that have taken place over the years. Its only a matter of time for this type of change to take place on the rest of the market places.

So many new comers have submitted countless pieces that are of good quality and quite unique but they constantly get rejected for whatever reasons which often times doesn’t add up.

What happens to the images already in the queue?
One of the main goals of the assessment process is to identify authors we can trust to upload only content that meets the new quality requirements. So, we’ll be looking at things like the overall quality of your portfolio, how you respond to the feedback, etc. Once we’re confident you’re just as committed to quality as we are, you’ll be free to upload any items without an item-by-item review process and queued items will be automatically added to your portfolio.

If you don’t make this initial cut, we’ll be disabling your portfolio and deleting any queued items. You’ll have another chance to be part of it when we reopen portfolio submissions in the future.

When are you stopping buyers buying from PhotoDune?
We’re not! :slight_smile: There are no plans to stop customers from purchasing items from PhotoDune’s existing library. PhotoDune will remain open for the duration of the project.

What happens to users accounts and earnings balance for authors not invited to tomorrow’s PhotoDune?
Authors who have content available on other Envato marketplaces will be able to withdraw earnings as they always have. If their earnings are below the minimum withdrawal threshold, we’ve got a process in place to help them receive their balance.

For authors not invited to tomorrow’s PhotoDune, their Envato Market account will remain active and available to them. Only their ability to upload new items to PhotoDune will be removed, and their current PhotoDune portfolio will be disabled.

All authors, irrespective of the results of a portfolio assessment are welcome to submit a portfolio for review.

For those who are accepted, will their entire portfolio be included?
Will their entire portfolio be included on Elements? Our current thinking is yes.

Will accepted authors need to resubmit any existing content?
No, authors will not have to resubmit any existing content. Authors will, however, be expected to maintain a high level of quality and consistency within their portfolio, and we plan to move toward more actively coaching authors on this.

Many of the reasons behind this project relate to PhotoDune’s specific situation and don’t apply to other marketplaces.

However, there are some overlaps. Quality, for example, is something we’re after across all marketplaces (like AudioJungle, VideoHive, ThemeForest, etc.). We know that can be a challenge and we’ll continue to support author success with new tools and resources that help them earn more and earn smarter. This includes providing more details around what we think will sell (commercial demand guides) and what technical quality we want as a minimum (you’re welcome to show off your mad skills beyond the minimums).

There is no plan to shut down Envato Market. We want to create more opportunities for authors to earn and Elements is one way to do that. We’ve got plans to introduce new categories to Envato Elements and you can expect to see more details on that right here in the forums.

It’s easy to take this view when traditionally those with the largest portfolios earn the most. What we’re encouraging is a new way of looking at the stock photo world as one where authors earn revenue because of the quality of their work, not the size of their portfolio. We know there are great quality photos in the library that haven’t had many sales, and historically higher selling photos that will not meet our latest requirements and policies. We believe that this entire process will help all authors with great content have more opportunities to earn.

Part of our current plans is to do some work to the underlying platform and technology that’s a necessary first step to enabling future improvements such as this.

At this stage, yes.

A lot of our graphics authors initially had similar concerns about undercutting markets, but it’s not something we’ve seen play out in reality. In fact, GraphicRiver had its best August ever in the same month Elements launched, and we’ve continued to see strong sales in the months following. On top of this, many of the Elements contributors who are also authors on Market have had healthy growth in Market earnings as well as a new revenue stream from Elements.

For authors/contributors, Elements is a new product is attracting whole new customer segments that you might otherwise not be selling to. It’s about incremental income to support your earnings from Market.

We recently posted a more detailed update about Elements in a separate thread - check it out and feel free to join the discussion.

Why wait?! We’ve got an overview of our new requirements ready for you and a lookbook available on Pinterest to give you a sense of what we’d like to see more of on PhotoDune.

We agree, and we’re sorry we weren’t able to deliver on this in time for this project. The good news is the foundational work outlined in section 3 above (our photos platform and the technology behind it) will make it a lot easier to develop tools like this going forward.


Photodune is not our gig, but majority of our photos for our projects come from photodune. In my eyes all of this is disturbing, on one side you are bringing ADP to let the market decide on the other side you are restricting.

Envato reviewed this items and let them on for sale and now you are cleaning your decisions and in the process authors will suffer.

It is just a mater of time you guys step on toes on the wrong author and get your self government inspection or a lawsuit. Keep in mind you are playing with peoples lives, so be careful who you remove :stuck_out_tongue: It’s one thing saying if you do not like it or do not agree with our therms leave and the other to just close authors shop.

And there are many factors on buyers side also… for example we do not include images in our themes and customers need to buy them from photodune… now you remove bunch of them, what do i say to the client? Do i refund him, who’s gonna refund me? How do i deal with the bad rating?