Unlaunching Unstock



Just over 12 months ago, we launched a small collection of high quality photos called Unstock. As Collis mentioned at the time, Unstock was “basically one big test”! Well as you may have seen with our recent announcement about our new approach to photos, the test has completed and we’re now making the move to improve the quality of photos in Photodune!

With this broader focus on quality and photos, we have now decided to turn off the Unstock website and direct all traffic back to PhotoDune. The photos available in Unstock are still available in PhotoDune though, so you should still be able to find these great quality photos.

As a test, the Unstock project was an exciting journey for us - the project team built the foundations for the website in just 2 weeks… although it took a bit more work to get it ready for launch.

Aside from the results from the experiment, this was also a good experiment in how to experiment with new ideas! The big lesson for us was to be really focused on a single hypothesis and put measures in place to ensure your findings can effectively prove or disprove your hypothesis. Sounds obvious, but it is hard to put into practice. As you can see from our original announcement, we listed 3 things we were trying to test:

  • Do images sell better when there are less but higher overall quality?
  • More image-centric User interface (big images, less stuff like comments)
  • Less options (one buy button, instead of many sizes)

The results of Unstock were impressive - our metric was revenue per image (RPI). During the first few months, RPI for Unstock photos performed at 40x those of PhotoDune photos… but were these results due to higher quality images? More exposure? Better buyer interface? Simpler license messaging? Single price point? Smaller library?

We think it’s a combination of all of these things, and this is all now feeding our new approach for photos. As @adfit11 mentioned in our recent announcement we’ll be simplifying price options, creating a smaller but higher quality library and also reviewing our licensing.

I hope that helps provide some more context to our shift in approach to photos and thanks again for all of your support and we hope you’re as excited about the future of photos as we are!

How to start upload my photos?

So it seems like between the lines you’re saying it’s going to become exceptionally harder for photographers to get anything approved, just like on audio jungle and videohive, which of course seems like it will unintentionally discriminate against anyone without the world’s best equipment. Can this trend be expected to continue to an even greater extent in the future?


If your equipment isn’t sufficient, then your stuff wouldn’t have got approved anyway, changes or not, this is more about quality, commercially viabke content, rather than technical issues.

Any half decent DSLR with a good lens should be sufficient… it’s what you do with it that counts.


That isn’t…really…true. If you look at old movies, which succeeded and are remembered decades later, they clearly have a lot of cheesy effects and minimal costume design. But today’s movies have a room full of supercomputers simulating an ocean or an explosion if not in addition to video cameras that costs thousands of dollars. [quote=“SpaceStockFootage, post:4, topic:74125”]
Any half decent DSLR with a good lens should be sufficient… it’s what you do with it that counts.

I have never encountered a single photographer that uses anything less expensive than a $2200 camera for professional work, unless maybe possibly a $600 one for small web images, 1000 px wide at most. It’s definitely about equipment, you aren’t going to sell stock photos you take with some $300 vacation camera. Better equipment has better noise reduction, more megapixels and more precise control over the lighting and color options.


If you’d like to point out one single item on Photodune that consists of an ‘old movie’, or one that was created using a super computer then I’d be inclined to believe you… but there aren’t any!

Old movies may have succeeded, but that doesn’t mean they would get approved on Photodune. Flared trousers were very successful back in the day, and have seen the occasional resurgence in following years… but try uploading a pair to the marketplace and you’re not going to get very far.

I said a decent DSLR with a good lens. Unfortunately, a vacation camera is unlikely to be a decent DSLR with a good lens… and it’s very unlikely you could pick up a decent DSLR with a good lens for $300.

The point is, you don’t need a super computer to get an image accepted on Photodune. But even if you did… is that discrimination? Kind of, I guess, but does that mean they should be accepting stuff shot on phones, on vacation cameras? Should they accept images that are blurred, full of noise etc… just so that they’re not discriminating?

Should they accept GraphicRiver items made in Paint so as not to discriminate against people who can’t afford Photoshop or Illustrator?


Thank you for supporting my point. As cutting edge technology became available to those who could afford it, those old “cheesy” effects stopped being implemented. The industry is even increasingly monopolized, which means there’s thousands of great ideas getting shut out. Buyers don’t want to buy a photo and then see a competing website using that exact same photo, so diversity should still be a priority.

Unless of course is was small enough to be perfectly crisp, like something someone would use in a blog post.

Well, that’s why I suspect that the rejection rate is only going to get higher. But instead of simply saying that, they wrote multiple paragraphs implying it.
Weren’t the images on Unstock also a lot more weird and unique than most of the stuff on Photodune?
All of their results could simply be explained by the fact that they concentrated so many niche pictures in one small platform that it was bound to generate lots of revenue, as it was the easiest means to find something out of the ordinary that normally wouldn’t be found on any other platform.
Simplifying pricing options is also economically irrational and would eventually lead photodune to hemorrhage money due to disproportionately higher prices at a set pixel size as opposed to competing platforms that would allow buyers to only pay for what they want at varying sizes. Not that Envato has done any analysis to make a strong case for simpler licensing causing an increase RPI, but that is merely a cosmetic element, which means all they would need to do is package the culmination of licensing options in a more pleasing and more easily perceivable way.


There won’t be a rejection rate as they’re removing reviews. Authors will be approved and then tyre free to uplod what they want after having proved themselves via an initial review.

But yes, the amount of authors who get approved will be a lot less than the amount who get rejected. And rightly so… the whole point of the test was that it proved that a lower amount of high quality items does a lot better than a massive amount of varying quality.

This may be a bad thing for people who didn’t have top quality items, but how many sales were they making? I’ve seen some where the RPI per image over an entire portfolio, is less than $0.50 per year. Once you’ve taken into account the time to review the image and the costs involved when it comes to uploading, marketing and hosting it… Envato would barely cover costs, so something had to be done.


That sounds like something photodune and other platforms already used to do, so why did they stop in the first place if it was successful? [quote=“SpaceStockFootage, post:8, topic:74125”]
the whole point of the test was that it proved that a lower amount of high quality items does a lot better than a massive amount of varying quality

When you already have proportionately well rounded growth in standard photos. If you simply only make niche quality pictures, there simply won’t be any of the common stuff that people are most likely to search for and buy. Like I said, the results could simply be explained by the sheer concentration of niche and unique photos since photodune already provided what the bulk of people needed, and of course on unstock there are fewer pictures so the overall revenue of the platform gets divided by a smaller number. Other authors have demonstrated that one way to succeed isn’t even necessarily anything that been demonstrated by unstock, it’s providing the most economically feasible quality at the lowest price for the most common products. If Envato makes products that people search for all the time but makes them better than anyone else, that’s going to attract more buyers than a small volume of niche high quality photos. That means that in fact, that the answer is somewhere in between the extreme of unstock and the extreme of people who only make average items. There is clearly some optimal configuration for search results that mixes between satisfying what the bulk of customers need and allocating resources to only the most unique and high quality (relatively) items.

If that’s the case and they aren’t making any money, then that’s already their own motivation to step up their quality if they can. If they make that little and they still don’t step up their quality, then it’s the same as if they were never approved in the first place, so they would just keep submitting a portfolio to be approved instead of submitting images that may make a sale.

I’ve noticed several demographics of customers that these platforms have failed to reach out to. There is definitely a possible issue with marketing if something doesn’t make sales either. What do competing platforms do better than Envato? Why do people go to shutterstock pond5 or soundsnap or iStock when it’s harder to search for stuff on there and they’re like twice as expensive? That’s a big problem for AJ’s marketing team, Envato’s undercut all of the major media industries and yet they still aren’t the biggest vendors for any particular category.