What Sells?

Posted on 1/26/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

It is that time when everyone talks about “trends” for the coming year. Getty offered an hour-long seminar on January 19, 2017 that can be reviewed in this youtube video.

The 6 basic trends for 2017 as Visual Trends Director Pam Grossman defined them are:

Trends Keyword Images In
Virtuality Virtualitytrend 77
Color Surge Colorsurgetrend 292
Global Neighborhood Globalneighborhoodtrend 114
Gritty Woman Grittywomantrend 405
Unfiltered Unfilteredtrend 270
New Naivety Newnaivetytrend 149

If you want to see images from the Getty collection that illustrate these trends you can use the keywords in the middle column and selected images from the Getty collection will be shown. The number of images is each collection is listed at the right, but this does not mean they are the only images on the Getty site that are keyworded with this trend word.

After reviewing these collections the question that needs to be asked is, “Are these images really selling and how frequently?” In some cases, I have seen similar images in print publications and on the Internet, but in a many such instances I believe the images were shot specifically, on assignment, to illustrate the art directors story line concept rather than being purchased as stock. Photographers need to know what’s really selling!

Keywords Customers Use

Grossman says that analyzing “the search data is how we determine what the visual trends are going to be because it allows us to recognize patterns in out customer desires and needs.” The following keywords have seen increased use over the last twelve months.

Keywords Percent
Extreme 34%
360 94%
Virtual Reality 321%
Color 52%
Immigrant/Immigration 22%
Multicurtural 28%
International 58%
Global 61%
Community 62%
Woman + Edgy 54%
Heroine 80%
Woman + Grit 90%
Provocative 56%
Real Life 99%
Gen Z 176%
Unfiltered 219%
Disruptive 298%
Bizarre 17%
Standing Out In A Crowd 45%
Authenticy 104%

These percentage increases would seem to be important indicator of customer demand, but last June Getty CEO, Dawn Airey, said, “Over 97 per cent of visitors come to our websites to look at – not purchase – amazing imagery.”

This raises the question of whether the potential customers using these keywords are actually buying images, or part of the 97% just looking. People searching for these subjects could be serious buyers, but after looking at what was available to illustrate these concept words they couldn’t find anything that would work for their project. Then they went away without buying anything.

Or, the searcher might have been an art director looking for ideas he/she could use to create a custom image for a project. Or the searcher might have been photographers looking for ideas, but never intending to purchase anything. Or it might have just been kids having fun. We don’t know.

What Information Would Be Useful?

If Getty (or any of the other agencies) really wanted to help contributors focus their efforts toward producing images that are likely to be purchased by stock photo customers they would give image creators much more specific information about which images are actually selling and the relative frequency of demand of one type of subject matter over another.

They could produce a database of all the image that have been licensed in the past year and order the list based on the number of times (or gross revenue generated) that each image had sold. Then each creator could do a keyword search for the subject matter he/she regularly shoots and determine if the best selling images fall within the top 100 in demand or if the best selling “Gritty Woman” or “New Naivety” image is number 1,000 or 10,000 in the order of relative demand. That way creators would know where to spend their time and effort.
Creators are spending more and more time creating images that no one wants to buy. Back in 2006 Getty had 1,767,214 images in its creative collection and licensed 1,661,696 used during year. Currently Getty has 17,591,955 images in its creative collection and based on photographer sales reports I believe they licensed fewer than 2,000,000 images in 2016 at prices that were much lower than 2006 prices.

Stock image producers are creating a much higher percentage of images that no one wants to buy than used to be the case. This is happening, not just at Getty, but at every one of the major distributors. If the best producer are to continue to create some way must be found to supply them with much more useful information about what is in demand and what isn’t. Otherwise, those who are trying to earn a living will simply move on to some other activity or profession.

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.  


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