iStockphoto Cuts Prices

Posted on 7/16/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

iStockphoto has announced today that 1/2 of its imagery is now 1/2 of its former price. Prices for non-exclusive images used to be: 1, 4, 7, 10, 12, 15, 18 credits based on file size.  Now those prices have dropped to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 credits with the price for the largest file size being only 39% of what was formerly charged. See charts below.

Old Prices

  Non-Exclusive Non-Exc+ Exclusive Exclusive+ Vetta
xSmall 1 3 5 10
Small 4 5 7 20 35
Medium 7 10 12 30 55
Large 10 12 17 40 75
Xlarge 12 15 20 45 105
XXLarge 15 18 25 50 135
XXXLarge 18 28 28 55 160

New Prices

  Non-Exclusive Non-Exc+ Exclusive Exclusive+ Vetta
xSmall 1   5 10

Small 2   7 20 35
Medium 3   12 30 55
Large 4   17 40 75
Xlarge 5   20 45 105
XXLarge 6   25 50 135
XXXLarge 7   28 55 160

The pricing for Exclusive, Exclusive+ and Vetta appears to have remained the same. As announced previously The Agency Collection images have been re-distributed to the Vetta and Exclusive+ collection effectively lowering their price. It is unclear, but the old non-exclusive+ pricing level may have been eliminated or rolled into the Exclusive level

The iStock site loudly proclaims that “1/2 of its imagery is now 1/2 of its former price,” but the default search returns are organized to mostly show the higher priced images first.  Presumably the "Only from iStock" images are all Exclusive and the pricing for these images hasn’t changed at all. (These higher priced images are still at a price point that was turning many customers off.) It is difficult to find many of the low priced choices. There is a “Price Range” slider on the left that allows the customer to search for just low priced imagery.

Non-exclusive contributors who are already receiving the lowest royalty share offered by any microstock site in the industry will now take an additional hit with dramatically lower prices for each download. Sales will have to more than double for them to just to stay even in terms of revenue.

It seems likely that many of these non-exclusive contributors, particularly those with significant income coming from other microstock and subscription sites will simply stop uploading new images to iStock. Another likely reaction is that the designers and illustrators who are also customers of iStock will turn to other microstock sites for the images they need for their projects. Of course that has already occurred to a large extent (approximately 25 million downloads in 2008 to an estimated 10 million in 2013) so maybe iStock doesn’t have that much more to lose.

"Editors' Pick" icons have been added, but most of these images are higher priced. It is unclear whether this is what buyers really, but iStock is betting that this will proved "an improved search experience that helps creatives access exactly what they're looking for, free of hassle."

Yuri Arcurs

It was also announced that Yuri Arcurs is now exclusively represented by iStock. The press release says, “iStockphoto is now the only site where the Arcurs Collection of photo, video, audio and vector elements can be found.” However, some, if not all of Yuri’s images can still be found on Yuri’s personal web site, Customers that go to will find that they can purchase images for about 20% of what iStock is charging for the same use.

The press release points out that Yuri Arcurs licenses about 4 million downloads a year. As a non-exclusive iStock contributor he has only had something in the range of 200,000 to 300,000 downloads in the past year. That means that at least 3.7 million of his downloads have been coming from other sources -– sources that he is now giving up in hopes that most of those customers will come to iStock to find his images and pay more money for them. At best the exclusive images licensed through iStock will earn 4 to 5 times what they were earning for him before as a non-exclusive iStock contributor. Granted many of those downloads from other distributors were selling for much lower prices than iStock charged.

Yuri Arcurs is a very smart businessman, but it is hard to see how being exclusive with Getty is going to work to his advantage.

Copyright © 2013 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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