Stock Photo Market Trends in 2011

Posted on 12/29/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (4)

For those looking for statistical and trend information related to stock photo industry this story provides links to a series of articles that examine various aspect of the subject.
At the end or 2011 we did two stories that deal with the overall size of the Stock Photo Market.” They can be found here and here. These stories provide my estimates of 2011 commercial and editorial sales and break them down into the sub categories of RM, RF, microstock, subscription, editorial news and editorial books. I have also provided estimates of the volume of sales in these various categories in three regions – The Americas, Europe and the Middle East and Asia.

For a more detailed examination of what's been happening in Asia in 2011 check out "Market For Images In Asia," and an interview with Jerome Lacrosniere, CEO of ImagineChina in Shanghai.

In August of 2010, I estimated gross annual revenue for the industry at $1,445 billion (the same as I currently estimate), but the volumes for the various categories have changed. Since then revenue for the use of RM and traditional RF images has declined sharply. Actual usage of images is probably about the same, but the usages are being licensed at significantly lower prices. The fastest growing segment of the market today is microstock. Editorial sales have grown, but may be leveling out. For more details, check out this story.

To get a sense of how the revenue is divided among the major players take a look at this story written after Getty Images acquired PhotoLibrary.

Back in 2007 when Getty Images was a public company and forced to reveal its financial results quarterly Goldman Sacks did an analysis of the company’s anticipated revenue extending out to 2012. While overall revenue was expected to grow Getty core "Creative Stills" business (RM and traditional RF) was expected to decline by 38% in the five years. That was before the recession hit which only exacerbated the problem.

For a better understanding of what has been happening in the microstock business be sure to read
"Average Return From iStockphoto" and the July 2011 story "iStockphoto Update: Examining Microstock Trends."

In 2009 I started to use to track about 196 of the top 250 sellers on iStockphoto. (This was a very useful tool for understanding the sales of over 35,000 iStock photographers, but in early 2012 they stopped supplying the information.) While this number may seem like a very small percentage of iStock’s 100,000+ contributors, they represent a significant share of iStock’s total sales. Over 90% of the images in iStock’s collection and well over 90% of the total downloads belong to the 37,085 contributors whose information is available on iStockcharts.

For those who want to go back a little further and see Getty’s historic sales figures from 2002 through 2007 check out and for a quarterly breakdown of figures for 2006 and 2007 that also shows the microstock segment of the business and the number of RM and RF images licensed check out this story

Copyright © 2011 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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