Getty Loses Orientation Keywords

Posted on 1/23/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In December, I published a story saying that the number of commercial images on had decreased dramatically. I came to that conclusion after searching for horizontal, vertical, square and panoramic images, a technique that had for years given me an accurate approximation of the number of images on the Getty site. It was quickly pointed out to me that there were actually 2.14 million images on the site, not the 1.25 million I had calculated. I published a correction.

I also asked why there was such a big difference between the actual number of images on the site and the number keyworded with an orientation. It was my understanding that every image was assigned an orientation. Certainly, searching for the orientations should give me a count of virtually all images. So why had the technique given me a count in August that was so much higher than in December?

The Answer

It took a while, but Getty has finally got back to me with the following answer.

"When the new launched in late August, there were a number of new features and functionality added to our customer experience, meaning much of the code had been re-written. This launch was the first 'new' in about five years, and immediately after launch, we did notice that our orientation filters were not working optimally. We are currently addressing the issue. In the meantime, customers and photographers can use the orientation keywords of horizontal, vertical, panoramic, square to find images. We will continue to make progress with each site release ensuring that our customers' experience continues to improve."

Getty knows about the problem, but in four months, it hasn't figured out how to solve it.

Today I did a search for "computer," and found that they had 68,170 images. Then I searched for "computer horizontal" (24,353 images), "computer vertical" (18,136 images), "computer square" (5887 images) and "computer panoramic" (184 images). That gives me 48,560 total images with an orientation keyword and 19,610, or 29% of the total that don't have any orientation keyword.

The good news, probably, is that most customers don't use the orientation option to search for images. But if they do, they will not see 29% of the computer images in the database. There is every reason to believe that similar percentages of images in all other image categories are missing whenever a customer uses an orientation word in a search. Remember, in December, I found that almost 42% of all the images in the database had no orientation keyword.

This raises another interesting question. If Getty lost so many orientation keywords in the transition to the "new" are there other words like "computer," "man," "cellphone," etc. that are also missing from some images?

Copyright © 2008 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:  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are 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