Photographer's Choice Survey Results

Posted on 1/12/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



January 14, 2006

Our Photographer's Choice survey showed that photographers received an average of $236.56 per image for all the PC images they had on the Getty site in 2005. The sum of all income reported was $254,540 for a total of 1,076 images. It should be noted that not all of these images were on the site for the full year of 2005 so the true average of those reporting was probably a little higher.

The total number of people responding to the survey was low. Their combined total of 1,076 images is only about 3.6% of the total of 29,602 PC images currently on the site. Thus, these figures may not be truly representative.

On an individual basis the average return-per-image varied dramatically with one photographer who only had 7 images on the site earning an average of $1,292.85 per image. At the other end of spectrum another photographer with 5 PC images earned $178 in 2004 and $0 in 2005. The majority of the photographers earned between $413 and $122. Half of the respondents earned more than the $236 average and the other half less. The second highest average return was $458.33.

It should also be taken into consideration that these photographers invested a total of $80,700, not counting the cost of producing the images, to have their images included in Photographer's Choice.

Comparing With 2004

The vast majority of the respondents began putting images on Photographer's Choice before 2004 so they had at least two full years of experience. I did separate calculations on this group and their average return-per-image was $316.01 for 2004 and $233.90 for 2005, or a 26% decline in return-per-image. If we assume that the royalty the PC photographer receives is about 35% of the gross revenue then the average total income for Getty from PC images would have averaged $902.88 in 2004 and $668.28 in 2005.

These figures are well above Getty's averages for all images on the site which were $673.54 for 2004 and $413.19 for 2005. Thus, despite the 39% drop between 2004 and 2005 of Getty's average gross revenue per-image collected the company can still argue that PC is "well represented on" because it is doing better than many of the other collections. Even though PC photographers are experiencing a significant fall off in their earnings they still receive more per-image than the average supplier on the Getty site.

Thirty-three percent of the survey respondents actually saw a drop in overall income in 2005. The rest saw an increase in total income, but for many it was not proportional to the number of new images they added during the year.

In general, I believe the per-image fall off can be attributed to the significantly greater choice buyers now have when they search for images on the Getty site. Overall, the number of images licensed only increased about 8.6% between the end of 2004 and 2005, and this includes the additional sales of the Photonica and Iconica brands that had developed some direct customers who had not been using Getty. Meanwhile the number of images available for licensing increased by over 68%. Thus, the odds of any specific image being licensed dramatically decreased. Expect this trend to continue.

In addition to the above declines, in the last couple months photographers have begun to see a further dramatic drop in their revenue. It is believed this drop has resulted from a significant lowering of Photographer's Choice images in the search order results after Getty Images purchased Photonica and Iconica. For the foreseeable future it is expected that these low numbers will continue, and it seems likely the returns per PC image will drop below the Getty average. We will do another survey this summer to attempt to compare photographer earnings for the first six months of 2006 with 2005.

If you want to review the questions on the original survey you can go to Story 784. For more information about search return order and Photographer's Choice see Story 786.

Copyright © 2006 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, 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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