Microstock Demand For Travel Photos

Posted on 4/5/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (4)

A rights-managed photographer recently told me that travel photographers must continue to market their work as rights-managed because there is not enough customer demand on microstock sites for travel images to enable photographers to cover their costs and make a profit. He acknowledged that people who shoot model released business and lifestyle photographs might be able to earn enough to profit from licensing their images as microstock, but argued that it won't work for the travel photographer. I decided to search iStockphoto for some popular locations and see how many times the top ten images from each of these locations had been downloaded.

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Copyright © 2011 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Ellen Boughn Posted Apr 5, 2011
    It is difficult for a traditional travel photographer to compete in microstock due to the high costs of their travel and the fact that a great deal of the micro travel shots are taken by photographers that live in the location. Travel stock is no longer primarily shot by North American and Western Europeans. Additionally when you live in a location, you have the luxury of shooting only when the conditions are optimum and have no hotel or transportation costs.

  • Gildo nicolo Spadoni Posted Apr 5, 2011
    Just got a big check $24 from Corbis from my travel stock images for jan/feb
    woopee !

  • stephen simpson Posted Apr 11, 2011
    "One of the great advantages that microstock offers is that anyone can tell exactly how well any particular subject has been selling" . . . how exactly can I do this?

  • Jim Pickerell Posted Jun 14, 2011
    Stephen: Probably the best source of information is iStockphoto. Go to the site and search on any subject. Sort by "downloads". The search returns will be organized by the number of times each image has been downloaded with the image most in demand first. Open the preview of any image and the date the image was uploaded to the site and the total number of times it has been downloaded (purchased) will be listed. Actually it will be listed as greater than a round number so if the number given is 200 the actual number will be something between 200 and 300 downloads. If you search for "people" you will discover that the first image has been downloaded more than 20,000 times, but lest than 21,000. Wouldn't you like to own that image? Photographers can get some very useful information by doing this type of research. Two other sites that offer similar information, but many fewer downloads are Fotolia.com and Dreamstime.com.

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