Undiscovered Images At Adobe Stock

Posted on 8/1/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Adobe Stock offers customers a very useful search feature that Shutterstock, Getty Images and iStock have chosen to ignore. Adobe lets customers search for “Undiscovered” images. We assume that means image that have never been used, although Adobe doesn’t make that entirely clear.

Shutterstock, Getty Images and iStock all let customers organize their entire search based on the “Newest” images in their collections, but they show everything they’ve got with the particular keywords used, not just the images that are new in a certain time period. The customer has no way of knowing if the 100th image, or 500th was uploaded an hour, a day, or a month ago. If the customer is looking for something that has never been used that’s not very useful because it is possible that an image recently uploaded has also been used.

However, even more interesting is the percentage of images that are “Undiscovered” or have never been used.

I searched the Adobe collection for a number of commonly requested keywords to determine the number of images in each category and how many were Undiscovered.

The first thing I wanted to know is the number of photos compared to illustrations. Adobe lumps photos and illustrations together on one search and calls them all “images.” It is possible, however, to add the keyword “illustration” to the other search term and get only the illustrations with that search term. I then deducted the illustrations from the relevant images and got the number of Relevant Photos in the collection for each of my chosen keywords.

  Relevant Relevant Relevant % of Photos
  Images Illustrations Photos In Collection
Food 11,122,440 876,330 10,246,110 92.12%
Business 10,710,685 3,314,387 7,396,298 69.06%
People 10,468,818 1,130,641 9,338,177 89.20%
Travel 7,125,070 883,724 6,241,346 87.60%
Architecture 4,471,910 399,973 4,071,937 91.06%
Animals 4,008,750 918,844 3,089,906 77.08%
Children 3,902,367 665,866 3,236,501 82.94%
Office 3,422,520 665,419 2,757,101 80.56%
Computer 3,093,050 933,392 2,159,658 69.82%
Education 2,390,941 548,255 1,842,686 77.07%
Family 2,050,527 212,975 1,837,552 89.61%
Finance 2,014,776 518,463 1,496,313 74.27%
Couples 1,720,396 170,015 1,550,381 90.12%
Baby 1,638,929 275,010 1,363,919 83.22%
Wildlife 1,602,679 293,889 1,308,790 81.66%
Recreation 1,455,801 162,592 1,293,209 88.83%
Medical 1,334,408 331,683 1,002,725 75.14%
Pets 1,205,087 199,875 1,005,212 83.41%

It is also very interesting to realize the percent of images in the collection that are photos compared to illustrations. With “Food” for example 92% of the images are photos and less than 8% are illustrations. In most cases the percentages for illustrations are under 20%.

Illustrators tend up upload many fewer images, but have a higher percentage of sales than photographers. A few years ago Shutterstock said that about one-third of their revenue came from illustration. Over the years that I have tracked over 400 of iStock’s leading contributors the illustrators tended to have much smaller collection, but often more downloads than the photographers.

The next step was to determine the count of the Undiscovered Images and Illustrations and  subtract the illustrations from the images to determine the number of Undiscovered photos. See the chart below.

  Undiscovered Undiscovered Undiscovered
  Image Illustration Photos
Food 8,533,402 637,280 7,896,122
Business 7,469,662 2,402,998 5,066,664
People 7,182,567 754,247 6,428,320
Travel 5,329,642 629,224 4,700,418
Architecture 3,277,364 264,977 3,012,387
Animals 2,906,304 614,871 2,291,433
Children 2,568,246 426,625 2,141,621
Office 2,332,983 481,511 1,851,472
Computer 2,103,085 661,847 1,441,238
Education 1,623,293 380,673 1,242,620
Family 1,364,234 139,444 1,224,790
Finance 1,430,575 392,735 1,037,840
Couples 1,146,245 113,896 1,032,349
Baby 1,112,428 181,667 930,761
Wildlife 1,218,476 195,854 1,022,622
Recreation 969,256 111,023 858,233
Medical 890,769 229,347 661,422
Pets 825,352 133,058 692,294

Finally, I divided the number of “Undiscovered” Photos by the total “Relevant” Photos to determine the percentage of Undiscovered photos in the collection. Note that the percentage of photos that have never been used ranges from 66% to 78% depending on the keyword.

  Relevant Undiscoverd Undiscovered
  Photos Photos Photos
Food 10,246,110 7,896,122 77.06%
Business 7,396,298 5,066,664 68.50%
People 9,338,177 6,428,320 68.84%
Travel 6,241,346 4,700,418 75.31%
Architecture 4,071,937 3,012,387 73.98%
Animals 3,089,906 2,291,433 74.16%
Children 3,236,501 2,141,621 66.17%
Office 2,757,101 1,851,472 67.15%
Computer 2,159,658 1,441,238 66.73%
Education 1,842,686 1,242,620 67.44%
Family 1,837,552 1,224,790 66.65%
Finance 1,496,313 1,037,840 69.36%
Couples 1,550,381 1,032,349 66.59%
Baby 1,363,919 930,761 68.24%
Wildlife 1,308,790 1,022,622 78.13%
Recreation 1,293,209 858,233 66.36%
Medical 1,002,725 661,422 65.96%
Pets 1,005,212 692,294 68.87%

While Shutterstock, Getty Images and iStock do not provide creators, or customers, with this type of information, I suspect their percentages of photos actually used are very similar. Shutterstock’s unused photos may, in-fact, be an even higher percentage given the huge oversupply of imagery in their collection.

I have had some top professionals tell me that less than 30% of the images in their collection ever get used and that the percentage is declining. On the other hand Cathy Yeulet of MonkeyBusinessImages told me last week that “literally every image she uploads sells at least once,” but I expect she is the very rare exception. Cathy has a very clear understanding of the subject matter that is in greatest demand, only shoots what she knows customers want and edits carefully.

Photographers trying to earn part of their living in this business would be well advised to carefully track their images that sell and not waste time shooting more of the images that aren’t selling.

Adobe could do photographer and customers a great service if in addition to their “Undiscovered” search option they added a “Discovered” option that enabled customers and photographers look through a selection of images that have actually been purchased by someone.

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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Jim Pickerell Posted Aug 7, 2017
    Robert Kneschke has pointed out that I missed the fact that Shutterstock had the “Undiscovered” feature in March 2014, but chose to eliminate it later. (See this link http://www.microstockgroup.com/shutterstock-com/shutterstock-undiscovered/ )

    Fotolia had the same "undiscovered" option for more than a year now. In addition, Dreamstime has this feature for many years with it's price tiers that indicate number of downloads. Level 0 means "zero downloads, age more than 6 month", level 1 means "zero downloads, age less than 6 month".

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