Stock Photo Market Size

Posted on 5/23/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

A reader recently sent me an email saying, “I read somewhere that you have recently said that the market size is going to be at $5 billion during 2013.”


I did not say the market size would be $5 billion during 2013. I don't believe it. In my opinion that number has no relation whatsoever to current reality in the stock photography market.

In Shutterstock's recent S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission they made the following statement about market size by 2013.
    “According to BCC research, the market for pre-shot commercial digital imagery is expected to exceed $5 billion in 2013, primarily driven by demand from businesses, marketing agencies and media organizations.”

    (This was based on a BBC research analysis done in 2008 and was repeated several times in the filing.)
BBC Research and Consulting is a very respected firm that does economic, market and policy research. I have no idea how they arrived at this number, but based on my analysis this number has NO BASIS IN REALITY.

I estimated worldwide sales of still images and illustration in 2011 at $1.445 billion -- not anything near $5 billion. (See here.) Getty 2011 sales (See here) tends to support my analysis. Based on recent 2011 figures received, and potential growth, I would put gross revenue for 2012 will be $1.6 billion at the outside.  
Earlier this year a survey by The Association of Commercial Stock Image Licensors (ACSIL) estimated the size of the stock footage market at $394 million. Based on what most of the major stock footage companies like Getty Images, Corbis, iStockphoto, Pond5 and Thriving Archives are generating I think this revenue figure is a little high, but for the purposes of this discussion I will accept it.
This means that At The Outside the combined revenue generated from the worldwide sale of still imagery, illustration and footage will be less than $2 billion at the end of 2012.

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:  


  • Stephan Bleek Posted May 24, 2012

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