Return Per Image At Getty

Posted on 2/19/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In November 2003 I began tracking Getty Images return-per-image by dividing the total number of RM and RF images into the total revenue generated in the previous four quarters. In the last four years Getty’s gross revenue from still image licensing has grown about 50%, but as the charts below show, not nearly as fast as the number of images added to the collection. As a result image suppliers have found that they have to produce more and more images each year just to stay even.

To determine the number of images in the file, each November I have searched the RM section for horizontal, vertical, panoramic and square and then totaled the four figures. I used the same procedure to find the number of RF images.

The Rights Ready section of the file was established in August of 2006, but since revenue from RR was lumped with RM, I have added the 77,189 RR images to the 902,744 RM images to get a comparative total for this category.

This technique results in a rough approximation of the average return-per-image rather than a totally precise figure as images are being added throughout the year and there is no way to tie actual images available to revenue generated for a shorter period. Nevertheless, since the same procedure was used each year, I believe the trends are an accurate reflection of what has been happening.

Photographers should keep in mind that these averages reflect the gross return for Getty. Photographer or Image Partner agencies will receive a small portion of this based on their royalty percentage. It should also be recognized that these numbers are only averages. Some photographers will see much better results and others much worse.

Getty has more than tripled the number of images on the creative section of its site in the last three years while the total revenue increase has been a little less than 50%. It is obvious from these figures that the average return-per-image should be declining significantly, which has been the case.

At the moment Getty is launching an initiative to greatly increase the total number of images on its site. Image suppliers should anticipate a further decline in return-per-image. (For more analysis of previous numbers see Story 775 and Story 689.)

    Editors Note: (The 2007 figures were calculated in September 2007 instead of November as was the case with all the other years.)

Average RPI


Rights Managed

Royalty Free

Combined RM & RF





















Number of Images




Combined RM & RF





















Copyright © 2009 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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