Our Review: 

Clustershot appears to be closed, i'll update this review more info becomes known.

Startup microstock sites have to be pretty good these days to make an impact, clusterstock seems to fit this bill, except for the fact that they not a true microstock agency. Slick site operation (it's simple things like automatic calculation of your commission when you enter the price of your images that please), import photos from an rss feed or a zip file along with importing images from a flickr account.

The terms and conditions make interesting reading, but I do hope that someone with legal knowledge has looked over them "Be good and don't do anything malicious" sounds nice as does the first term about you keeping all the rights to your images.

Price of 10 dollars reflects an average of what I have seen, prices can be chosen by you the photograher.

One thing to highlight is that clustershot make a point of themselves as "facilitating the sales of images", i.e. you send the buyers to them using the links provided with each image. Of course buyers will also be able to buy images if they find them by searching from the sites front page.

clustershot do not review images that are placed on sale, so all liability will fall on the photographer. Like mostphotos.com take care when uploading images as there is nothing to stop you from uploading material (photos of people etc) which may later land you in trouble if you do not have the required model or property releases.

This site was a joy to review, I was able to import several hundred flickr images (although I only upload web resolution images to flickr) and also upload several months worth of my microstock portfolio in just a couple of hours. If you had read the previous version of this post I noted the site had one major limitation, it did not import your IPTC keywords. Like all good sites Clustershot have been listening (you'll see a comment below) and they now support import of your IPTC metadata, this makes uploading simple. The upload system is good, you can either browse for a jpeg image (one at a time) of if you select a zip file with several images inside it the site will expand it meaning you can upload up to 100MB of images in a single shot.

To put it simply, it works, and the user experience is "everything where you expect it to be". There is a pro account option which allows you to customise your own domain name and provides several other 'pro' features.



While RSS and Atom feeds might be the future of photographers 'streaming' their work to those who want to sell it, I'd still like to see FTP upload to fit into the rest of my workflow (uploading a ZIP file or using WebDav is convenient enough).

If suitable plugins are developed for gallery software or websites (noted that the developers of clusterstock already have a plug in for their own open source 'pinhole gallery') then with clustershot taking only 12% commission from the sale this could be a very cost effective way of letting a 3rd party deal with sales of microstock. Certainly for full priced stock images then manually linking up galleries to clusterstock images could be quite cost effective.

With the acknowledgement/caveat that I am referring buyers from a travel photo site and that the image collection I'm selling via clustershot contains not just my microstock collection but travel and landscapes which i'd not normally sell as microstock (approx 3000 images) I've sold 9 of then over the past 12 or so months. Not great, but its also not such an unreasonable conversion rate looking at the stats and considdering the subjects uploaded.

Clustershot is a useful tool to any photographer who runs their own site or online gallery and wants to 'add on' selling photos. I'd probably look elsewhere if you are just planning on uploading all your photos and expecting sales to 'flood in'.


Site Details
Real US$ Cost of 1 Standard Image: 
10 (compare prices)
Referral Scheme: 
None (compare rates)
Cost of a standard image (1600x1200) 2MP approx: 
10 Credits
Royalty Rate: 
88% (compare)
Cost of 1 Credit (basic): 
$ 1
FTP Upload: 
Site Statistics
Approx. size of photo collection (0 = no current estimate): 
200,000 Images (compare)
Alexa Traffic Rank: 
547321 (a measure of the site popularity, lower number is better)
Alexa 3 Month Change: 
-4% (measurement of the increase of site popularity compared with three months ago, negative is a decrease)
Overall Rating: 
Site Closed / Not Recommended

Dan James's picture

ClusterShot New Features

Dan James (not verified) on Tue, 2009-02-10 16:36
Sweet. Thank you for the great review. We hear you loud and clear on the IPTC keywords. We're building it. I'll let you know as soon as it's ready. As for the rest of the new things we're planning, see this post on our shiny new blog. Thanks again for the review!
Steve Gibson's picture

Good to hear it

Steve Gibson on Wed, 2009-02-11 17:20

I look forward to it, and I understand that with slightly less than standard 'standards' around IPTC/XMP implementation it's not such a straight forward process as it first appears, do keep me informed (or indeed all users of your site) with any new features and i'll update the review.

thanks, steve

Dan James's picture

IPTC Tagging

Dan James (not verified) on Tue, 2009-04-07 15:00
I finally was able to cycle back to this only to find that you discovered the new feature yourself. Thanks for taking note and good luck with your sales. It's very important to point out that we're not yet at a point where people can post their photos and immediately make money off of them. We simply do not have that much free-range traffic. Most of the sales are coming from photographers who are promoting their images and using ClusterShot as their checkout (as we intended). Our goal right now is to make tools that make sense in the long run. It's fairly lightweight to run right now and we are dedicated to its long-term success. We haven't forgotten about the FTP idea. It's on our long list of things to do. I noticed in our profile that you don't have a total number of available images for us. We're just shy of 100,000 images actually for sale. We have quite a bit more imported by our users but not priced yet. Thanks again!
Steve Gibson's picture


Steve Gibson on Thu, 2009-04-09 01:02

Thanks for the update on the number of images. From what I understand 100,000 is the magic number that a new agency needs to get started (provided i guess it's a well rounded collection).

"It's fairly lightweight to run right now and we are dedicated to its long-term success"

I like what i hear in that sentence, with the cost of storage and bandwidth falling exponentially, I can't see why any well thought out e-business should ever have to close or use some excuse about the "economic crisis". That might be over simplifying things, and when I said the same statement at a recent conference was was met with general disagreement. But I think its true, especially if the business model can continue to run day to day on incomes from sales, and letting end users do their own marketing - a subject which a lot of "2.0" photographers are getting quite smart about.

Dan James's picture

WebDAV uploading

Dan James (not verified) on Mon, 2009-08-03 14:01
I just wanted to let you know that your wish for FTP uploading has now been granted. It's not quite FTP (we think it's better) it's WebDAV. For more information on how to use this latest and greatest feature on ClusterShot please see: http://www.clustershot.com/help/addphotos#webdav Thanks!
Steve Gibson's picture


Steve Gibson on Tue, 2009-08-04 02:41
thanks for the update dan. I had a sale too! only one so it's nothing to shout about just yet, it was interesting to see that it was of a quite low resolution image (500 × 331 pixels) that I had imported from my flickr account as an experiment. - the flickr import was so simple too. the image is at http://www.clustershot.com/photoeverywhere/photo169422, A landscape that I would not normally consider selling as stock anyone who has a flickr account of images they would like to sell might consider it, perhaps the more fine art or abstract style images they market themselves with or take for their own pleasure but would not consider suitable for "microstock" are now something to be made use of? Work in stock for too long and you can get blinkered.
Dan James's picture

Congrats & Pro Accounts

Dan James (not verified) on Tue, 2009-08-04 18:58
Awesome. Glad you had a sale. That is what we feel is the success of the site. You sell a photo you might never have sold otherwise (and hopefully more!). I also wanted to let you know that we launched our "pro accounts" today. The three biggest features right now for pros (more to come later) are: 1) Your own site. See http://danjames.clustershot.com/ for an example. We also support custom domains. So you can use store.yourdomain.com or whatever you'd like. 2) Custom watermarking. We bowed to the pressure of the masses to make it an option. You simply let us know what text you would like superimposed on your images and we do the rest. 3) Pro identification. We show off your pro-status wherever it makes sense on the public version of ClusterShot.com. All of this for $20/year (yes per year, not per month). That's less than most people spend on toothpaste! We'd love to see ClusterShot finally rated on here :)

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