Market For Images In Asia

Posted on 5/31/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

At the CEPIC Congress in Istanbul a panel of Asian stock agents provided insights into the current market for stock photography in Asia. The panel included: Sandeep Mahewsari of Imagebazaar ( in India, Daphne Fu of Panorama Images ( in China, Daniel Kang of Image Republic ( in Korea, and Ryusel Yoshimoto of amanaimages ( in Japan.

Sandeep Mahewari estimates the size of the Indian market in 2010 at about $14 million and projects that sales will reach $20 million by the end of 2011. He says that in 2006 the entire market for stock in India generated only about $5 million. Part of the reason for this fantastic growth may be that Western companies doing business in India are now purchasing in India some of the images they use for products distributed in other parts of the world.

However, in the period between 2005 and 2010 while the demand for internationally produced images grew 100% the demand for those produced locally grew 400%.

As in other parts of the world customers constantly seek discounts, but ImageBazaar had solved this problem to some extent by offering E-cash. Rather than offering customers a discount Mahewari credits 15% of the purchase price to their account. The next time they come to buy images they can use accumulated credits to purchase future images. This encourages repeat business and so far is working well for Imagebazaar.

One of the problems in supplying the needs of the Indian market is the variety of religions, culture, attire, ethnic groups and lifestyle. A photograph of members of one group will not sell for use in a publication or marketing material that is aimed at a different group.

Moving to China Daphne Fu estimates that the market for Commercial Images was about $30 million in 2010. This is up from an estimated $20 in 2006 (see article). It is estimated that Getty Images has about half the total market with Panorama Images and ImagineChina ( being number 2 and 3.)

About 90% or Panorama’s content is from foreign providers (many from Japan and Korea) and 10% from Chinese. Very few Chinese photographers shoot lifestyle images. The demand for Chinese content is growing rapidly, but most Chinese photographers are not prepared to produce the kind of imagery that is in demand.

People images represent 51% of Panorama’s revenue and 90.4% of the people pictured are Asian. 90% of the Asian images come from local producers and only 10% from International photographers.

There over 100,000 advertising companies in China and over 200,000 companies engaged in publishing. It is also estimated that there are 30 million small and medium companies that need pictures from time to time, but most of these companies fulfill their image requirements by hiring photographers to shoot what they need, or getting free images from the Internet.

For Panorama the average price for an RM license is about $150, down from $183 a couple years ago. For an RF license the average is about $250 down from $300. Ms. Fu says that Microstock isn’t making much headway in China due to the problems with keyword search and the lack of good locally produced content. Automatic language translators don’t work well when converting from English to Chinese and Chinese customers also want more customer support than the Microstock sites are prepared to give.

Daniel Kang estimates the market for stock images in Korea at $36 million a year with $30 million of that for traditional stock and $6 million for Microstock. In Korea 70% of the market is for overseas content and 30% for content that is locally produced. Kang pointed out that models in lifestyle imagery must have the right Asian faces because locals in the region can recognize the difference between Japanese, Korean, North Chinese, South Chinese, Filipino, etc. Pictures of one ethnic group will not sell for use in another ethnic areas. Because Korean photographers understand these differences a lot of their production is produced specifically for the Chinese market and Korea is a major source of imagery used by the Chinese.

Currently there are about 10 agencies in the Korean market. Some of the older agencies have disappeared due to the web trend. There are 2 large agencies that specialize in licensing RM and 3 small to mid-sized ones that concentrate on offering subscriptions. About 80% of the revenue generated in Korea is from RM and traditional RF images of market, 18% from subscription and 1 or 2% from Microstock. The business for Korean studio photographers is declining and a lot of them are looking to enter the stock photo business.

In Japan amanaimages is a major producer of advertising assignment photography as well stock imagery. Ryusel Yoshimoto estimates that in 2010 the stock side of the amana’s business generated about $35 million in revenue. That was probably about one-third of amana’s total revenue for the year. In 2006 the company generated a little over $38 million from the licensing of stock photography. Mr. Yoshimoto estimated that in 2010 total revenue for all companies licensing rights to stock images in Japan was in the range of $100 to $125 million. Sales made by Getty Images were probably about equal to those made by amana.

The ways of using photography in Japan is shifting rapidly. Many of the larger customers are using more and more images and thus are looking for cheaper products. It used to be that 80% of revenue was generated from the licensing of RM images. That has dropped to 70%. Some customers are looking to purchase rights to use 5,000 to 10,000 images, but their budgets have remained the same as what they used to pay for many fewer images. Customers are looking for new licensing models.

amana only receives about 3 to 5 requests a year for exclusive use. However, many customers want to know that competitors will not be using the same images and thus are willing to purchase RM images for the assurance that no competitors will be using the image.

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:  


  • Leslie Simitch Posted Jul 30, 2012

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