Photo Subjects Customers Need

Posted on 12/4/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

What are the photographic and illustration subjects that clients look for most often? Recently, iStockphoto surveyed its customers and asked them to identify the subject categories that they searched for most frequently in 2012. See the iStockphoto infographic.

Over 1,000 clients responded. They were able to select multiple categories and were asked to order them in terms of frequency. The chart below lists the top 20 categories in the order of greatest importance with 73% of the respondents indicating that they most often looked for pictures that contained people.

  Percent Images in  
  Responded collection  
People 73 1,723,260  
Business 68 699,180  
Concepts 67 571,265  
Lifestyle 58 708,382  
Medical 42 325,350  
Multicultural/Ethnic 36 91,251 177,001
Science/Technology 35 88,216 378,865
Beauty/Health 33 1,696,913 726,389
Food/Beverage 27 1,122,771 248,858
Holidays/Celebrations 27 1,043,997 331,790
Travel/Transportation 26 990,536 254,439
Animals/Pets 22 570,065 149,203
Babies/Children 22 211,541 619,621
Sports/Games/Fitness 21 404,604 465,682
Fine Art 21 5,488  
Historical/Vintage 21 290,310 472,648
Music/Entertainment 16 164,332 104,608
Homes/Interiors 14 537,044 676,317
Religious/Spiritual 9 258,688 184,251
Space/Military 6 80,871 59,639

We have also listed the number of images currently in the iStock collection that contain the respective keywords. (Where there are two words in the description the count in the first column is for the first word and the count in the second column for the second word. In Sports/Games/Fitness we counted Sports and Fitness.)

Obviously, many images will contain several of these keywords so one image may be counted in several different categories. Images that can be legitimately keyworded with several of the popular categories tend to be among the most frequently licensed.

It is interesting that that the word “computer” is not among the top 20, although iStock has 230,172 images keyworded computer. Hopefully, all of them are also keyworded “technology.”

The survey also revealed that 98% of all creatives use stock imagery sometime in the year. This figure is up from 79% in 2000.

In regards to illustration vs. photos, iStock found that 72% of those surveyed use stock illustration, while 98% use stock photos. 33 percent use stock footage and 14 percent use stock audio.

Copyright © 2012 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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