Microstock Photography Survey Results

Posted on 9/19/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

A few months ago Basar Hatirnaz surveyed microstock image producers for his doctorial thesis at Yeditepe University in Instanbul, Turkey. He got 400 responses from contributors with a wide range of experience in the microstock business. The results of his research provide some interesting insights into the microstock industry.

A little less than one-quarter of the respondents had been working as photographers for five years, or less. A total of 53% had been working at photographers for at least 10 year. What I found most interesting is that 47% of those responding had been selling their photographic services for more than 10 years – almost since the licensing of photos at microstock prices came into existence.

Of the respondents 355, or 89% said they had been involved in macrostock photography before the digital technology era. Over half had graduate or post-graduate university degrees. Only 15% said that their sole occupation was microstock photography. The other 85% were part-timers who have another occupation and the revenue they earn is just a supplement to their primary source of income. In addition over half (56%) said they earn some of their living from doing other types of photography that is not licensed as microstock.

While iStock, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Fotolia that represented their work 32% also had images with Corbis, Getty and Jupiter Media (owned by Getty).

The top three categories of imagery that the photographers spend most of their time shooting are: Tourism and Vacations, People and Food and Beverage. However, significant numbers of them also spend time shooting Conceptual image, Technology, Industry, Health and Sports, Business, Finance, Beauty and Fashion as well as Editorial images.

Only 17% said that at least 80% of their monthly income comes from microstock photography and 41.25% said that microstock represents less than 10% of their income. Seventy percent said that microstock represents less than 40% of their income.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that less than 10% of the photos they submit are rejected and over 80% said that less than 30% of their photos are rejected.  

Forty-two percent of respondents have more than 2,000 photos “on sale in stock websites,” and another 13% have more than 1,000. It is not clear whether this is the total number of “unique” photos, or if in some cases the contributors counted the same photo twice when it is on two different websites, non-exclusively.

Sixteen of the respondents earn between $5,000 and $10,000 a month from microstock and another 14 earn over $10,000 while 53.75% of all respondents earn less than $500 per month.

Over one-third (37%) said they had experienced cases of copyright infringement of the photos they have uploaded to microstock sites. This is surprising since for the most part the photos are so inexpensive, and the rights so broad, that it hardly seems worth taking the risk of using a photo without proper licensing. On the other hand there may have been relative few cases compared to the total number of images licensed. It also may have been a case of the user not clearly understanding the license. Microstock image users tend to think that they can make “unlimited use, in any manner” or any photo they purchase. In fact, there are limitations on use, and while they are not as broad and specific as with Rights Managed images, there are limitations.

When selecting models for a shoot 53% say they pay more attention to the physical and cultural characteristics of the model as it relates to the content of the photo rather than looking for the most beautiful model. Another 34.75% neither agreed or disagreed with this statement.

About 37% of respondents believe “microstock photography is an economically sustained business” and 29% feel it is not. The remaining one-third neither agreed or disagreed with the statement.

When asked to answer the question, “Microstock photography is an easy job, anyone can be successful” only 10% agreed; 76% disagreed and the remaining 14% neither agreed of disagreed. 

Copyright © 2014 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 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.  


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