Posted on 7/28/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Kathy Yeulet owns and operates MonkeyBusinessImages, which she started in 2006 and is one of the most successful microstock production companies .

Previous to that she owned and operated Banana Stock, a company that produced and licensed stock images at traditional royalty free prices. With near perfect timing she sold that company in 2004 when the traditional royalty free prices were near their peak. Two years later decided to start producing images for the relatively new microstock market.

2006 was the year Getty acquired iStockphoto and sales at that company began to take off. Cathy began putting images with iStock and by the end of 2011 had 4,604 images in the iStock collection. By the end of that year she has a combined total of over 360,000 career downloads from iStock. At the end of 2016 she had almost doubled the number of career downloads, and had a total of 48,391 images in her iStock collection.

Cathy has always supplied images to multiple microstock sites so it is impossible to make any estimates of the total career downloads she has from all collections. Around 2010 Shutterstock started taking significant market share from iStock. She now calls Shutterstock her “main client” despite the significant sales iStock is still making for her.

Currently Shutterstock has a global contributor community of over 225,000 photographers, illustrators, digital artists, and videographers. Only 177 have larger collections than MonkeyBusinessImages and many of those with larger collections are not as successful.

Cathy says that “literally every image” she uploads sells at least once “but of course some do a lot better than others. From a days shoot the top image may sell 6000 times.” It is unclear how many sell in the thousands and how many sell fewer than 10 times. If we look at iStock sales alone for 2016 she ended the year with 48,391 images in the collection and somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 total downloads for the year. Shutterstock sales may have been a lot better.

If you want to get an idea of the kind of stock images that are in demand it is very interesting to examine the MonkeyBusiness portfolio on Shutterstock not only in terms of the quality of the imagery, but in the subject matter of the images she produces. The following is a list of the number of images that contain certain keywords. Nearly all of her work are images of people, and, of course, some of the images have multiples of these keywords.

Keyword Number of Percent
  Images of Total
people 60,969 94.53%
children 17,278 26.79%
hispanic 10,558 16.37%
family 10,280 15.94%
black 9,975 15.47%
computer 9,764 15.14%
business 9,754 15.12%
senior 9,351 14.50%
ethnic 8,792 13.63%
food 7,948 12.32%
asian 6,778 10.51%
education 5,126 7.95%
natural or nature 3,482 5.40%
medical 2,422 3.76%
baby 2,391 3.71%
travel 1,371 2.13%
animals 373 0.58%
illustration 354 0.55%
street scene 177 0.27%
natural life 87 0.13%
VR 62 0.10%
nostalgia 10 0.02%

Take a look at the Business Insider article and note the comments in the “What should you shoot?” section of the article. The keywords that in theory are often used include: natural, natural life, authentic, nostalgia, cybersecurity and VR.

If you do a search for these words in the Monkey Business collection you find that all the images with the keyword natural also have the keyword nature. There are 87 images with both the “natural” and “life” keywords. There are zero returns for “authentic” and “cybersecurity” and very few for VR and nostalgia. These are not subjects Cathy bothers to shoot. If you use the keyword “real” you get 935 real estate images, but I doubt that is what customers are looking for if they use the words real or real life.

When we look at what customers are buying – from MonkeyBusines at least – they don’t seem to be the same things many stock agencies keep telling us “customers are requesting.”

Recently Cathy told Business Insider that her career earnings are “well into the millions.” Currently, she has “a team of about 10” working with her at MonkeyBusinessImage. A big part of those earnings must go to staff salaries, equipment and model fees. Currently, she has 64,500 images in the Shutterstock collection and 95% of them have people in them. She has model releases from all those people and I suspect not all of them agreed to work for free.

Copyright © 2017 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