Future Demand For Photography

Posted on 2/4/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (5)

A reader asked recently, “Is it true that Unsplash is now getting more downloads than Getty, Shutterstock and Alamy combined?”

According to Unsplash’s statistics page they currently have 70,263,886 downloads per month. Based on Shutterstock’s last quarterly report they have about 15.43 million downloads monthly. Their downloads per quarter haven’t changed much quarter-to-quarter over the last two years so I think this number is a pretty good average and not really growing.

Figuring the downloads of Getty and Alamy is more difficult because neither company reports these numbers. However, based on what we believe to be the gross-annual-revenue of each and the average-price per download, I estimate the average monthly downloads at about 833,333 for Getty and 166,666 for Alamy.

Getty’s downloads may be growing as they give more customers more images for one fixed price through Premium Access deals. But, in effect, all that is doing is lowering the average price per download, not generating more revenue for Getty or photographers.

So for the three agencies total downloads per month is probably in the neighborhood of 16,433,333, about 24% of Unsplash’s 70 million. Or another way to look at it is that it would take Shutterstock, Getty and Alamy combined more than 4 months to have as many downloads as Unsplash has in one month.

Photographers also need to consider that at least one-third, and maybe more, of the Shutterstock, Getty and Alamy downloads are of graphic illustration, not photos. The market for imagery is moving very rapidly away from photos and toward illustration.

We also need to consider the downloads of at least two other sites – Freepik and Canva – that are heavily orientated toward illustration, not photography.

Freepik says they have 18 million users (Shutterstock has only 1.9 million) and they have 100 million downloads per month.

There is very little in the way of statistical information about Canva, but they say they have 10 million users in 179 countries. They are aimed at servicing Graphic Designers. I would not be surprised if Canva actually has more downloads than Freepik.

Photographers need to keep in mind that the people who use pictures are mostly Graphic Designers. These people seem to be finding easier and better ways to fulfill the needs of their projects than using (or at least paying for) photography.

Copyright © 2020 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


  • Brad Crooks Posted Feb 8, 2020
    Great info Jim...

  • Peter Dazeley Posted Feb 10, 2020
    The business is really slipping through the fingers of the big three. What I would like to ask UnSplash photographers is how you can afford to do this?

  • Jagdish Agarwal Posted Feb 11, 2020
    Some photographers say that they get assignments.

  • Peter Dazeley Posted Feb 11, 2020
    Good luck with that !

  • Sabine Pallaske Posted Feb 15, 2020
    what photographers must not forget: Unsplash, Freepik, Canva and similar free platforms are not "picture agencies", but companies that use photographer uploads only for generating revenue in other areas. Photographers compete on these platforms with PR images from corporations that are hired en masse and with fake identities that upload other people's images. The promise of getting assignments is nothing more than a honey trap. These platforms reforce the trend of not paying for image usage, the result can be clearly seen in the fees paid by Getty images, Alamy and all the others...

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