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Statistics & Surveys
The stock photography business has changed dramatically from what it was five or ten years ago and the future does and the future does not look promising. In this article we’ve provided links to a number of previously published articles that provide a good overview of the industry and where we believe it is headed. If the reader wants to get a basic grounding in what stock photography is all about this is the place to start.
The United Kingdom company Eposure
has posted preliminary results of its Photographer Day Rates survey
that was conducted online through its blog. Eposure is a company that “brings commercial photographers and businesses closer” and provides information and mentoring programs for photographers.
has released an infographic
that forecasts several design trends for the year ahead. In 2012 Shutterstock delivered 76 million image downloads giving them a wealth of data from which to draw conclusions.
In its annual study of the State of News Media the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that employment at U.S. newspapers in 2012 was down 30% from its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978.
In its quarterly conference call Shutterstock reported revenue of $169.2
million for the full year of 2012, a 41% increase over the $120.3 million in 2011. Fourth quarter revenue was $49.2 million, a 42% increase over Q4 2011. Looking ahead, the company expects to see revenue of between $48.5 and $50.5 million in Q1 2013, and for the full year revenue in the range of $213 to $219
million. Shutterstock stock (SSTK) closed at $32.88, up 17.22% on Friday.
blog conducts an annual survey of microstock contributors. The survey always receives a very high number of responses compared to other photographer surveys. This year 708 contributors supplied information. MicrostockGroup has posted an infographic
that highlights some of the more interesting information from the 2012 Microstock Industry Survey.
The Global Stock Image Market Research Group (GSIMRG) in Heidelberg, Germany has just released a report on the extensive study of the stock photo industry
that it conducted in 2012. They concluded that the stock photo industry generated $2.88 billion in revenue in 2012. Based on their figures I think image licensing is much less. Their report, and my commentary in this article, is a must read for anyone engaged in the stock photo business.
In January the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a report on Media and Information that provides some interesting insights into the photography business. Median still photographer income in U.S. is $28,860. The median for TV and video camera operators is over $40,000 and almost $53,000 for Film and Video editors.
At the end of 2012 the 423 had a combined total of 1,601,662 images on the iStock site and had grown their collections by 216,191 images (about 13%) during the year. However, it is interesting how this uploading breaks down. The top 20 uploaded 74,399 images (34% of the total). See their upload totals here.
The number of downloads from iStockphoto may have declined by 46% in 2012 compared to 2011 and almost 56% since 2010. This story explains in detail how we arrived at this figure and provides specific trend information on 194 of iStock's leading contributors.
There is a continual drive in the stock photography world to produce more images. But more images don’t necessarily result in more revenue – particularly if prices are continually lowered in an effort to try to license those images.
I’ve been asked, “What’s the average price that stock images are being licensed for today?” Most RM and traditional RF image contributors would agree that on average fees have been steadily declining over the last few years. The question is how much. In the last few weeks I have gathered sales data from a few of Getty’s Image Partners and major individual contributors. While this survey is in no way scientific, I believe I can draw some reasonable conclusions about the degree of the decline.
As we near the end of 2012, I’ve just received a copy of Alamy’s financial statement for 2011 that was filed with Companies House
in the UK in August of this year. In 2011 Alamy’s gross turnover was £14,853,670 (about $22,913,400). This was up $1,042,600 (about 4.8%) from $21,870,800 in 2010. However, 2009 revenue was $22,864,000
so in 2011 they were barely able to climb back from 2010's lost sales.
has reported revenue of $42.3 million for the third quarter, a 36% increase over Q3 2011. The company expects to generate revenue of $44 to $45 million in the fourth quarter. Based on that projection revenue for 2012 will be between $164 and $168 million, up $44.7 million compared to the 2011 revenue of $120.3 million. This will be a 37% increase in revenue for the year.
More than 1,000 designers responded to Graphic Design USA
(GDUSA) annual survey designed to determine how stock imagery is being used. The survey indicates that use of stock imagery has grown nearly three times in 25 years since the first survey, starting at 39 percent in 1986 and reaching 98 percent in 2012. The survey also shows that 31 percent of designers are in a full-blown love affair, using stock images over 100 times a year, which is up 11 percent from last year.
The cost of producing images certainly hasn’t declined in the last 8 years. If anything it has increased. But, it is interesting to take a look at what’s been happening to the return-per-image on file based on Getty Images figures.
On the MicrostockGroup
blog there has been a debate as to whether it is better to try to license images through Alamy
rather than on microstock sites given that the license fees and royalty percentages are so much higher.
Will the stock photo market generate $5 billion annually in revenue by the end of 2012? Don't You Believe It
.In its recent S-1 filing Shutterstock quoted BBC Research as saying the "market for pre-shot commercial digital imagery is expected to exceed $5 billion in 2013." I think the market for stock still photos, illustration and footage will generate no more than $2 billion by the end of 2012.
In March it was reported by Moody’s and Standard & Poors that the
gross revenue for Getty Images in calendar 2011 was $945 million. This
figure, and how the various lines of business break out, provide some interesting insights into the state of the stock
The U.S. Copyright Office is proposing to increase the registration fee for filing an online application from $35 to $65, and the fee for using a paper application from $65 to $100. They are requesting a fee increase because in 2011 fee receipts only covered 59.5% of the cost of providing the service. The rest comes out of the taxpayers pockets.
BCC Research has released an extensive report on the global digital photography
market which is defined as the market for products that enable digital
photography. This market generated $65.6 billion in revenue in 2010 and
$68.4 billion in 2011. The market is expected to grow at a 3.8%
compounded annual rate and reach $82.5 billion by 2016.
I’m regularly asked for information about the size of the market. This
story contains a quick summary of some of the important industry
statistics as well as links to related stories where I expand on these
numbers. Included are Microstock colllection growth trends; iStock download and revenue trends since 2005; images licensed annually; royalty payouts; Getty return-per-image from 2003 through 2007; Asian market; customer buying behaviors and useful statistics for photographer business planning.
If your goal is to earn a full-time living from photography -- and
particularly stock photography -- you need to read this series of 14
articles. They were originally written in the summer of 2010. Since then
the general state of the photographic industry has continued to go
downhill. These articles discuss key aspects of the business and issues
that those who want to earn their living taking pictures must consider.
has published the preliminary results of its 2011 survey of microstock contributors. So far more that 700 people have responded, but there is still time for anyone involved in microstock to add additional information
before the final results are tallied.
One thing that has intrigued me about the microstock business is the
role designers and illustrators play as content creators and how their
participation on the seller side of the market influences imagery supply
and demand. Shutterstock recently reported that in 2011 32% of the
company’s total downloads were vector illustrations and that in the last
5 years customers have trended to move away from using photographs to
illustrate certain concepts and toward the use of very graphic