Free Images For Sketches, Internal Presentations And Pitches

Posted on 6/27/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

A reader asked,  “Is it known how much money is lost when premier and enterprise customers are able to get high resolution images that they use for sketching, internal presentation or pitches at subscription prices and only pay for the ones they use in print?”?

The answer if NO. Nobody had any idea, or is tracking, of how many images are used in this way compared to how many are actually used in delivered products.

A different question might be, “How much money is lost when high resolution images are available via subscriptions, rather than requiring the customer to describe the intended use and pay a licensing fee depending on the use (the RM strategy a decade or so ago).”

We do have some data on that.

Getty 2006 RM RF Total
Images in collection 973,933 787,281 1,761,214
Revenue for all 2006 $332,830,000 $319,730,000 $652,560,000
Average per Image in collection $341.74 $406.12 $370.52
Images Licensed 607,945 1,053,751 1,661,696
Average price per image licensed $547.47 $303.42 $392.71

In 2006 the average gross return for Getty was $547 per RM images licensed and $341.74 per images in the collection. For their entire RM and RF collection the average per image licensed was $393 and the $370.52 per image in the collection.

I estimated that the gross sales for Getty’s Creative Collection in 2018 was about $280 million down from $652 million in 2006.

Based on some recent analysis of the sales of some of Getty’s top contributors (see here ( ) and here ( ) I estimate the average price per image licensed in 2018 (both RM and RF) was $29. Thus, the average price per image licensed in 2018 had declined about 95% compared to what it was in 2006. In addition, about 76% were Premium Access (subscription) sales with an average price to Getty of under $10. Only about 10% of the sales were for prices above $100.

Getty is definitely licensing more images than they were a decade ago, but clearly the increased volume is not making up for the lower price. Gross revenue is now less than half of what it was in 2006.

However, once the Subscription strategy was introduced, and enough photographers agreed to license images in that manner, there was nothing anyone could do but try to compete. Customers are not willing to pay more, if they can get everything they need for less.

In 2018 the average price per image licensed at Shutterstock was $3.47. Thus, Getty was actually earning 3 to 9 times more than Shutterstock.

Are Prices Still Too High?

The interesting thing is that for many customers the prices are still too high. They want everything for FREE. It has now become so easy for everyone to take pictures with their cell phones that customers don’t think they should have to pay anything for pictures – particularly if they find them on the Internet.

Many of the younger generation believe that if they find an image on the Internet it is “Public Domain,” and thus, it is alright to download it, post it on websites and use it in any way they please.

To add to the problem, more and more websites offering free images are popping up. The idea of paying for a subscription to use an image is becoming old hat.

Unsplash has a little over one million images online and averages 57 million downloads a month of free images.  Since their founding in 2013 Unsplash has had over one trillion downloads (see stats).

A huge percentage of users are satisfied with free images.

By way of comparison, in Q1 2019 Shutterstock had 274 million images and videos on its site and "only" about 15.7 million total paid downloads per month.

It won’t be long until everyone expects the images they need to be available for FREE.

Copyright © 2019 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 301-461-7627, 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:  


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