Getty Launches Subscription Service

Posted on 2/15/1996 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)


August 22, 2005

Getty Images has launched a subscription offering called Creative Express with 52,584 images from PhotoDisc Green, PhotoDisc Blue and Digital Vision.

Getty offers two different file sizes for each image - 1-3 MB and 10-16 MB - which they call web and print resolutions. It is possible to purchase one month or one year licenses. The prices for 1-3 MB are $399 and $1,599 and the prices for the 10-16 MB are $499 and $1,999. Creative Express also offers high-resolution image upgrades at a 10% discount from the normal RF price.

These prices are significantly higher than other competitive subscription offerings such as and and the number of images available are many fewer. The comparative prices of these brands are:

1 Month



3 Months



6 Months



1 Year



The images offered through Getty may, in general, be of a higher overall quality, but it is questionable as to how much difference that makes to a subscription buyer as long as she can find the right image for her project.

Robert Gubas, vice president of product marketing, says Creative Express goes beyond conventional subscription offerings to avoid excess 'similars' and includes only the highest-quality creative content, shot exclusively by professional photographers.

In my quick review of some of the images on the site it seemed to me that there were still a fair number of 'similars' of many situations. In addition it appeared that many of the images chosen were of an older creative style that may not have been selling well in the last year or so. It may be that Getty has specifically selected a lot of the images that were shot in the creative style of the early 90's in an effort to get a little more life out of them.

The images span 16 major categories including business (10,447), lifestyle (5,637), sports (3,988), finance (1,978), education (1,047), healthcare (2,321), nature (1,979) and travel (3,829). Getty promises that hundreds of images will be added each month to ensure fresh and relevant content and expects to have 80,000 images in the offering by the end of the year.

All these subscription images continue to also be available as part of the regular brand offering to anyone doing a normal Royalty Free search. Getty must hope that most of their existing RF customers will simply do a normal RF search and not bother to check to see if the images are also available through subscription. This second check is easy to do by going to the subscription section and searching for the image number selected. If the customer is using more than a couple images in a project and can find them in the subscription offering he can probably save money. There is a risk as customers learn to use the system that the subscription offering will cannibalize existing RF units licensed as well as revenue. Here are the comparative prices for single images of the Blue, Green or DV offerings and the one-month subscription price.





1 MB





10 MB





It is believed that Getty is limited in its subscription offering to only show images that it wholly owns because it would be impossible to allocate a portion of the subscription fees to each image downloaded. This limits the company to only using some of the images from PhotoDisc and DV (where they are not required to pay a photographer a royalty), and from any other wholly owned collection they might purchase.

The Creative Express offering differs from traditional Royalty Free licenses in that clients may not create new work with the images after their subscription expires. Thus, there is no advantage to a client of buying a short term subscription, and downloading a lot of images they hope to use in the future because they will have no right to put them into new projects once the subscription expires.

Copyright © 1996 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:  


Be the first to comment below.

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

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
Where Is The Stock Photo Industry Headed?
For new readers, or those who may have missed some of what I have written over the last few months, the following are a list of stories worth looking at to get a sense of where the industry is headed.
Read More
Photography As A Career
It’s that time of year when high school seniors are waiting for college acceptance letters and thinking about future careers. If you know someone who is thinking about photography as a career you mig...
Read More
2014 Stories You May Have Missed
For many the end of the year is a time to review past experiences and consider whether it makes sense to chart a new course in the year ahead. Stock photography has changed dramatically for professio...
Read More
More Stories In 2014 You May Have Missed
Every so often I put together a list of the most important stories we’ve published in the recent past. If you are engaged in the business of stock photography the links below are to stories that we’v...
Read More
Getty: A Three Month Review
In all the excitement about 35 million FREE images it is worth looking back at some of things that have been happening at Getty Images in the last three months. After watching revenue decline for the...
Read More
State Of Stock Photo Industry: 2013
If you’re looking for an overview of the state of the stock photo industry as of October 2013 the stories listed below are a good place to start. Regular readers of Selling-Stock will have seen all t...
Read More
Education Market Shifts To Digital
If supplying pictures for educational use is a significant part of your business plan you need to be aware of how the market is trending toward digital delivery and how that is likely to affect the p...
Read More

More from Free Stuff