Getty Expands RM Opportunities for iStock Exclusives

Posted on 10/27/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

In a letter signed by Jonathan Klein, iStockphoto’s exclusive contributors have been invited to contribute to Getty Images’ rights-managed collections Stone and The Image Bank. Klein said, “We’ve been dreaming about this one for years and today we are proud to call it a reality.”

In the first phase of the program, which begins this week, 50 contributors will be contacted and notified of their ability to submit content to the two collections. In the second phase, at the very beginning of next year,  an unspecified additional number of iStock exclusives will find they are eligible to submit.

These photographers will have some very tough decisions to make. Will their images sell better as rights-managed than as microstock? Because they are exclusive, and top shooters already, their images get favored position in the search return order at iStock. They are also allowed to submit more images, get more selected and get 40% of every sale. With Getty they will probably receive less than that on a good percentage of their sales. (Actual contract details of submitting to Getty were not disclosed.)

For those shooters who are limited in the number of images they can get accepted into the iStock collection, this may be an opportunity to get more images into play. Still, when the choice comes down to either iStock or the Getty brands, it will be a tough one to make.

Yuri Arcurs and Andres Rodriguez are among iStock’s top-earning non-exclusive shooters,  with respective ranks of 1 and roughly 20. At PhotoPlus in New York last week, Arcurs and Rodriguez said that their average return per image was  currently about $5 per month ($60 per year), down from about $7 per month ($84 per year) a year ago. They also acknowledged that their return per mage from iStock alone was higher, because the editing is so tight that they get many fewer images on iStock than is the case with other sites that represent their work. Since exclusive iStock contributors get better positions in the search return order and earn twice as much as non-exclusives, it seems likely that there are very few Getty photographers currently earning more on a per-image-in-file basis than iStock exclusives. Rights-managed sales at Getty will be for higher dollar values than microstock sales, but will there be enough of them to offset the multiple sales likely for each image placed in microstock?

The photographers will also have to think about whether it might be better to try to get the image into iStock’s high priced Vetta Collection rather than taking the risk of making it rights-managed and hoping for a blockbuster sale.

Getty is certainly struggling to try to find new images for its collection. They are now offering Photographers Choice shooters two free images (the $75 fee is waived) for every one image that sells. Many top shooters and production companies have cut back on their stock production in the last year, because it has become economically challenging.

Klein also said: “Expect member Caracterdesign, who has been working on this project with a passion, to share the idea of rights-managed so we truly understand these collections from an artistic perspective and how different it is from royalty-free to our exclusive community.”

Another interesting insight to come out of PhotoPlus was that from an artistic perspective, there may be much less of a difference in what customers want to find in a microstock collection compared to a right-managed one. It used to be that microstock placed a lot of emphasis on simplicity and having the subject look directly into the camera. Now customers are saying they are tired of that. They want more complex images, and they want the models relating to one another. Where have we heard that before?

Copyright © 2009 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:  


  • Ghislain David de lossy Posted Oct 27, 2009
    maybe a good idea to shoot again RM for Getty for those of us who did other things these last years?

    Ghislaih David de Lossy

  • Morgan David de lossy Posted Oct 28, 2009
    In stock, good ideas are only good if done by few shooters.
    A shared good idea stop being a good idea...
    its true for creative as well as strategic ideas.

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