Nudity on Microstock Sites

Photographing and selling nudes is a delicate topic. Before sending a photo to a microstock (or any other) site it is advisable to check whether it accepts such a photographs (1) and what will be the buyer allowed to do with it (2). We wouldn’t want to see the model in the ad for a new porn site or otherwise be abused. I took a look at the Big 6 conditions and licences to get the answers to the given questions. The results were mostly positive and are summarized below:


1) OK with conditions (age 21 + look to be 25 + photo ID + keywords).
Submitter guidelines : “For submissions containing nude content of artistic value, the model must look at least 25 years of age and the submission must be accompanied by a photo ID of the model.”
FAQ: “Any nude with definable features such as a face, scar, or tattoo must be accompanied by both a model release AND a valid ID stating that the model is 21 years of age or older.”

So, besides uploading the model release, it is neccessary to upload also an photo ID (passport is ok). By trial upload I have found that model has to be at least 21 even when the he/she is not recognizable at all.

Then there is another condition: “If you are posting a photo of a child DO NOT EVER USE KEYWORDS NUDE OR NAKED. Nor can you use “teen”, “nude”, or “sexy” as keywords or in the description of a single image.”

2) OK.
Terms of Service – Licensing: “You may not: … Use an Image in a way that places any person depicted in the Image in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive – this includes, but is not limited to the use of Images: a) in pornography, “adult videos” or the like; b) in ads for tobacco products; c) in ads or promotional materials for adult entertainment clubs or similar venues, or for escort, dating or similar services; … [long paragraph truncated – see the source for the complete version]”


1) OK.
Photographer Training Manual: “iStock does accept artistic partial and full nudity stock photography, …”
Overview for Photographers: “Artistic partial and full nudity is permitted. Obscene, pornographic, or explicit nudity is not allowed.”

2) OK.
Licence Agreement: “… the following are “Prohibited Uses” and you may not: … use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner that (i) would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (ii) that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content;”

StockXpert [už neexistuje]

1) OK.
Photo upload rules: “DO NOT UPLOAD: … adult / violent content …”
Hard to say what’s the exact meaning of this, but from my acceptance ratio it seems that any art nude is ok.

2) OK.
Image License Agreement: “You may not use the Image… # For pornographic, unlawful or other immoral purposes, for spreading hate or discrimination, or to defame or victimize other people, societies, cultures. # In a way that would make people assume that the person(s) depicted on the Image is/are endorsing a certain product or a service. # In a way that could give a bad name to either Stockxpert or the person(s) depicted on the Image, including illustrating sensitive social subjects such as health issues, crime, sexual preferences, drug abuse or similar issues. … [etc.]”


1) OK. I haven’t found any restrictions on this topic. The only relevant notice is in the FAQ and states that it is possible to turn on the adult filter.

2) OK.
Terms and Conditions of Use: “Restrictions … use the Work in a way that places any person in the photo in a bad light or depicts them in a way that they may find offensive … [non-comprehensive list of examples follows]”


1) OK with condition (photo ID).OK s podmínkou (pas).
No restrictionns for upload has been found. There is a note when uploading: “We require that model releases for images of nudes (full or body part)are accompanied by a copy of the model’s ID with photo, certifying that the model is of legal age (over 18).”

2) OK.
Terms of Use: “Without limitation, Images may not be used … for any pornographic or unlawful purpose, to defame a person, to violate a person’s right to privacy … [etc.]”


1) ATTENTION – only very decent nudes and with condition (age 21).
Terms of Service : “Member may not post to or use BigStockPhoto to transmit sexually explicit images or other content which is deemed by BigStockPhoto to be generally offensive to the public or harmful to minors.” “No fully exposed buttocks, genitals, fully exposed female breasts or fully exposed female nipples. You agree that all models are over age 21 if image is sexual in nature.”

2) OK.
Image Usage Agreement: “Prohibited Uses: … Use images in a manner which the depicted person or a person owning the depicted property would find objectively offensive including but not limited to usages associated with sexual entertainment, sexual products, or intoxicating, addictive, or pharmacological products.”


From the above-mentioned excerpts it is possible to say that microstock sites in general welcome nude photos and allows the buyer to use them reasonably. The only exception is the BigStockPhoto, which disallows any slightly indecent photos. BigStockPhoto and Shutterstock requires the model in any allowed nudes that he/she is at least 21 years old and the model should look like to be at least 25 on Shutterstock. Shutterstock and Dreamstime (and probably BigStockPhoto) also require photo ID besides the standard model release. The last note: Pay attention to keywords when submitting to Shutterstock.

Successful shooting!

Any comments/experiences/corrections are welcome!