It is interesting to reflect on how little is paid for photography compared to what printers are paid to reproduce our work.
, a leading research organization serving the printing and publishing industry, has just estimated that the value of printed materials shipped in the U.S. in 2010 was $86.7 billion. Based on my analysis I estimate that the worldwide sale of still stock imagery in 2010, most of which is used in some type of printed publication, was about $1.45 billion. Previously, we have estimated that in the range of 43% of the total worldwide sales of stock photography are licensed for use in the U.S. market. Thus, the comparison would be something in the range of $625 million for photography compared with $86.7 billion for printing.
Of course, the printers have huge costs of paper, ink, shipping and the presses to reproduce their product that photographers don’t have. In addition, the photography figures don’t include the revenue generated for photographers who are employees, or working on freelance assignments, when they produce images for publication. Nevertheless, these comparisons are interesting.