Getty Launches Subscription Service

Posted on 2/15/1996 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)


August 22, 2005

Getty Images has launched a subscription offering called Creative Express with 52,584 images from PhotoDisc Green, PhotoDisc Blue and Digital Vision.

Getty offers two different file sizes for each image - 1-3 MB and 10-16 MB - which they call web and print resolutions. It is possible to purchase one month or one year licenses. The prices for 1-3 MB are $399 and $1,599 and the prices for the 10-16 MB are $499 and $1,999. Creative Express also offers high-resolution image upgrades at a 10% discount from the normal RF price.

These prices are significantly higher than other competitive subscription offerings such as and and the number of images available are many fewer. The comparative prices of these brands are:

1 Month



3 Months



6 Months



1 Year



The images offered through Getty may, in general, be of a higher overall quality, but it is questionable as to how much difference that makes to a subscription buyer as long as she can find the right image for her project.

Robert Gubas, vice president of product marketing, says Creative Express goes beyond conventional subscription offerings to avoid excess 'similars' and includes only the highest-quality creative content, shot exclusively by professional photographers.

In my quick review of some of the images on the site it seemed to me that there were still a fair number of 'similars' of many situations. In addition it appeared that many of the images chosen were of an older creative style that may not have been selling well in the last year or so. It may be that Getty has specifically selected a lot of the images that were shot in the creative style of the early 90's in an effort to get a little more life out of them.

The images span 16 major categories including business (10,447), lifestyle (5,637), sports (3,988), finance (1,978), education (1,047), healthcare (2,321), nature (1,979) and travel (3,829). Getty promises that hundreds of images will be added each month to ensure fresh and relevant content and expects to have 80,000 images in the offering by the end of the year.

All these subscription images continue to also be available as part of the regular brand offering to anyone doing a normal Royalty Free search. Getty must hope that most of their existing RF customers will simply do a normal RF search and not bother to check to see if the images are also available through subscription. This second check is easy to do by going to the subscription section and searching for the image number selected. If the customer is using more than a couple images in a project and can find them in the subscription offering he can probably save money. There is a risk as customers learn to use the system that the subscription offering will cannibalize existing RF units licensed as well as revenue. Here are the comparative prices for single images of the Blue, Green or DV offerings and the one-month subscription price.





1 MB





10 MB





It is believed that Getty is limited in its subscription offering to only show images that it wholly owns because it would be impossible to allocate a portion of the subscription fees to each image downloaded. This limits the company to only using some of the images from PhotoDisc and DV (where they are not required to pay a photographer a royalty), and from any other wholly owned collection they might purchase.

The Creative Express offering differs from traditional Royalty Free licenses in that clients may not create new work with the images after their subscription expires. Thus, there is no advantage to a client of buying a short term subscription, and downloading a lot of images they hope to use in the future because they will have no right to put them into new projects once the subscription expires.

Copyright © 1996 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:  


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