What To Shoot: Learning From iStock

Posted on 7/12/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In the previous story I examined the Getty Image Creative collection, and in particular EyeEm’s contribution to that collection, in and effort to determine what subject matter might be in greatest demand, and thus most needed.

iStock offers some interesting insights into the subject because it basically has two separate collections – Signature and Essentials – with imagery at different price points.  The Essentials image are non-exclusive and many of them can be found in other microstock collections. The Signature images are exclusive to iStock and offered at 3 times the price of the Essentials.

It is important to note that a few years ago Getty reported that about 75% of iStock revenue comes from licensing Signature image. Assuming that percentage is still accurate that would indicate that they license about an equal number of Signature and Essential images annually. This is particularly interesting because their may be as many as 5 times as many Essentials images in the collection as there are Signature and the Essentials only cost one-third as much.

From the information on the site it is impossible to determine the exact number of images on the iStock, but based on the number of images in the Getty Creative collection and the numbers in each of these keyword categories, I estimate that there are currently about 72 million images on iStock.

  iStock iStock Percent iStock Times In
  All Signature Signature Essentials Essentials
Nature 20,452,526 2,785,871 13.62%
17,666,655 6.34
Scenic 4,597,638 841,429 18.3% 3,756,209 4.46
Landscape 6,348,580 987,946 15.56% 5,360,634 5.43
Architecture 5,283,614 838,585 15.87% 4,445,029 5.3
Flowers 6,239,891 685,878 10.99% 5,554,013 8.1
Animals 8,619,610 1,056,674 12.26% 7,562,936 7.16
Travel 10,800,414 2,194,464 20.32% 8,605,950 3.92
Recreation 4,997,035 1,515,388 30.33% 3,481,647 2.3
Food 14,619,172 1,557,028 10.65% 13,062,144 8.39
Agriculture 2,732,771 357,547 13.08% 2,375,224 6.64
Children 3,728,924 1,078,696 28.93% 2,650,228 2.46
Industry 4,113,805 796,275 19.36% 3,317,530 4.17
Business 8,016,609 1,758,470 21.94% 6,258,139 3.56
Family 2,087,760 624,863 29.93% 1,462,897 2.34
Aviation 552,332 107,837 19.52% 444,495 4.12
Medical 3,116,284 491,604 15.78% 2,624,680 5.34
Computer 2,448,107 655,197 26.76% 1,792,910 2.74
Office 2,002,303 509,900 25.47% 1,492,403 2.93
Education 1,845,306 391,146 21.2% 1,454,160 3.72
Drugs 1,170,306 145,822 12.46% 1,024,484 7.03
Soccer 233,377 48,637 20.84% 184,740 3.8
Business Meeting 341,752 161,191 47.17% 180,561 1.12
Drone 85,635 13,420 15.67% 72,215 5.38

  114,433,751 19,603,868   94,829,883 5

It is interesting to note the percentage of images in the Signature collection (column 4) relative to the number of images in the Total collection (iStock All column). The percentage of images in each keyword category seems to be closer to what I think demand might be than the breakdown of the Getty collection in the previous story.

Almost 30% have the keyword Family and 29% have the keyword Children. In the Business category there are more total images in the Signature collection than in the entire Getty collection, as well as 27% with the keyword Computer, 25% Office and 47% Business Meeting.

It is believed that a higher percentage of the photographers contributing to the Signature collection compared to EyeEm contributors are trying to earn a significant portion of their living from the images they produce. In order to maximize revenue the Signature photographers tend to study the market and focus on producing the type of images that seem to be in greatest demand.

In addition, iStock seems to be more picky than Getty with regard to who they will accept to be Signature contributors and the type of images they will accept for the Signature collection.

That leaves the question. When trying to determine what to shoot and where to spend their money on production should photographers place more weight on the iStock demand statistics, or those of Getty?

Copyright © 2018 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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