Getty Opens Door To Photographers

Posted on 11/21/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



November 21, 2006

Getty Images has opened the door to a broad base of professional and amateur photographers who would like to promote their images through the Getty web site. Getty is requesting submissions of original imagery to the Lifesize collection, an addition to its rights-ready licensing model. Images from Lifesize will be available for customer licensing as early as December, and the collection will continue to grow organically over time.

Photographers interested in submitting can get more information by going to and select the "work with us" link. All images received will be screened for placement in the Lifesize collection according to standard technical and legal requirements.

"The digital revolution has enabled a new breed of photographic talent to capture and share their vision with the world," said Andy Saunders, vice president of Creative Imagery at Getty Images. "By tapping into this fresh supply of creativity, we're better equipped to meet customer demand for a broader and deeper selection of imagery."

Photographers contracted with Lifesize will initially be allowed to submit up to 40 images per year, paying a $50 placement fee for each image accepted. As an early incentive, photographers will be charged an introductory fee of $25 for each of their first 10 placements. A flat 30 percent royalty rate will be paid for each license issued through the Lifesize collection.

It appears that thousands of professional photographers distributing their work through other agencies and Getty's Image Partners will now have a chance to submit up to 40 images a year for marketing on the Getty web site. Not to mention all the amateurs. It would seem that a huge percentage of the photographers currently submitting images to the micro payment sites would also be interested. The only thing that might hold some of them back is whether they have a digital camera that meets the quality standards.


There are a few issues that should be considered, but for which only experience will probably provide an answer.

  • How rigorous will the screening process be? What percentage of the images submitted will be rejected? It seems that once a photographer's initial submission has been approved, the photographer can submit any subject matter (up to 40 images a year) so long as they meet the technical requirements. But, could a lot of effort be spent initially trying to get accepted?

  • Will screening of so many images bog down and keep non-accepted images out of the market for long periods of time? Getty has promised to edit images submitted to the Creative collections within 90 days and within 72 hours for those submitted to the Editorial collections.

  • Will the Similars issue take a lot of images out of play? Their Similars definition says, "Images will not be considered Similars based only on their subject matter," which seems to allow other marketing of images from the same shoot so long as they are different enough not be judged as "substantially the same" image.

  • Is the $50 ($25 initially) worth it? Based on the current average return per image the 30% royalty doesn't seem too bad. See Story 898. The current average for RM which includes RR is $332.83 per year with 30% of that working out to almost $100 a year. Thus, in six months the average photographer should make his investment back. However, as a large number of images are added to the collection that average is sure to drop, and maybe substantially. While the early adopters will probably do well, down the road when a significantly greater number of images are available, most suppliers will probably find their RPI dropping to the point where it is no longer economic to pay the upload fee .

  • Will the Lifesize collection remain as part of the Riser collection, or will it be moved to a position where it gets a much lower search return order? Riser images are currently in a very favorable position in the search return order (see Story 897), but as Lifesize grows it will likely be given its own position and there may also be a Lifesize RM, Lifesize RR and Lifesize RF since Getty has the right to move the images to any collection it wants.

  • Will adding significantly to the current volume of images actually increase revenue for Getty, or will it simply make the odds of licensing any specific image much less?

Existing Photographers

Initial reactions of some existing photographers has been negative, and rightly so, because their RPI is likely to continue its steady decline at a much faster pace. On the other hand there is no way they can stop this initiative. To ignore it as an opportunity would seem to lead more quickly to disaster. Those who are already represented by Getty need to get images into as many brands as possible in order for more of their images to come up higher in the search return order and Lifesize is an additional opportunity.

This may not be enough to overcome the downward trend, but it is the best chance to hold on. At present, it is also probably more beneficial to pay $25 to be in Lifesize than $50 to be in Photographer's Choice. If you want your images on the Getty web site than paying for position is a fact of life.

Other Opportunities

In addition to Lifesize, three other distinctive imagery collections are slated to roll out rights-ready offerings next month:

  • Photographer's Choice RR, available only at Getty Images, is a compilation of distinctive images selected by the established Getty Images photographers who captured them;

  • Image partner Panoramic Images RR features a sweeping range of skylines, scenics and international destinations -- all presented in wide-screen format; and

  • Image partner StockFood Creative RR is a unique collection of modern and cutting-edge imagery created by the world's largest food-image agency.

In August 2006, Getty Images introduced the rights-ready license model as a means of providing high quality still imagery through a simplified pricing and usage structure. Since the successful debut of Riser, the original rights-ready collection, the model has expanded to include:

  • Image partner Altrendo RR, an international collection showcasing a dynamic range of contemporary and imaginative choices to fit any kind of project; and

  • Image partner Blend Images RR, a contemporary collection focusing exclusively on ethnically diverse business and lifestyle imagery.

"One month into our rights-ready presence, we're already seeing a marked increase in sales," said Rick Becker-Leckrone, chief executive officer at Blend Images. "Rights-ready complements our royalty-free business by reaching a unique customer segment that values a combination of high quality and flexibility."

Customers who license rights-ready imagery are granted a 10-year license term, as well as unlimited territory rights and broadly defined use parameters that allow them to avoid re-licensing for creative campaigns that evolve over time. Further streamlining the process, eight fixed price points are designated according to basic commercial, internal company and editorial use categories.

Copyright © 2006 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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