Do More Images Generate A Proportionate Increase In Downloads?

Posted on 1/9/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Most stock contributors want to believe that if they continue to produce more and better images more of their work will be downloaded (purchased by customers), and they will make more money. That’s not the way it seems to have worked at iStock in the last two years.

Get the Full Article (2 Credits)

Have an Account?

Access to this site is an exclusive benefit for you. Enter your username and password in the form above. If you don't remember your password you can reset it at any time.

Forgot your password?

New to Selling Stock?

Selling Stock is an on-line newsletter that reports on developing trends in the stock photo industry. It is updated at least twice a month. On-line subscribers receive e-mail notification whenever new stories are posted. Archives containing stories going back to late 1995 are fully available to subscribers.

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Thomas Wear Posted Jan 10, 2015
    In the beginning of the article you seem to suggest that adding more images to a photographer's collection does not bear fruit in terms of increased downloads (and therefore increased revenue, though with varying price-points those numbers will not move exactly in tandem anyway.) However, your figures show that for EACH level of increased submissions, the number of downloads DID increase, with the greatest increase going to those who uploaded the greatest numbers. Which directly contradicts your claim in the first paragraph.

    Later, it appears that what you are really trying to show is the much less sensational, though still disappointing, trend (according to your numbers that according to your notes are at least partially estimates and not solid numbers) that the increase in the number of downloads does not track with the number of new uploads, as one would hope it would.

    However, there are at least two important factors that could influence that statistic, that you don't seem to take into account, or at least you don't report on.

    1.Most importantly, you do not look at the age of the images in the contributors' collections. If these are all large contributors with a very substantial number of images in the collection, it stands to reason that for most of them they will have been fairly long-time contributors. (Note the "year start" in your second table to bear this out.)
    They will have a substantial number of older images, which will show a much greater drop-off in number of downloads than more recent ones. So by adding new images, they are able to avoid what would be a significant reduction in number of downloads, and instead net an increase in downloads overall.

    2. Less important, but possibly also significant (we don't know since the information is not provided) is the question of WHEN those new images were uploaded. For a contributor who had been uploading very regularly over this period the download percentages would probably track pretty well. But for those contributors whose uploads were mostly toward the end of the survey period, the number of downloads could be misleading since there is always something of a lag between the time an image is uploaded and the time it starts to see significant traffic.

    So I would caution any readers against concluding that, as you seem to imply at the beginning of the article, adding more images to iStock (or any stock collection for that matter) is not worthwhile or will not provide an expected return. For anyone who has been and still is producing actually salable images (which is not everyone who uploads images by a long shot) adding more images is the only hedge against even more precipitous drops in downloads and income.

    Tom Wear

  • Thomas Wear Posted Jan 10, 2015
    I should note, for anyone who might recognize my name, that while I formerly worked for Getty Images (owner of iStock) I left Getty in August to pursue freelance editing and consulting, so anything I write is my own opinion and NOT in any way official (or even unofficial) information or response from Getty.

Post Comment

You must log in to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our FREE weekly email listing new stories posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff