Getty Unification: Image Ingestion

Posted on 11/23/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Once Getty’s Unification Project is fully implemented one of the issues Getty and iStock photographers will need to consider is where to upload new images in order to minimize effort and maximize sales and revenue.

It is assumed that there will be a lot of cross-pollination with images uploaded to also being licensed through iStock and images uploaded to iStock also licensed through the Getty site. Currently, there are huge differences in the way image ingestion is handled on the two sites.
    1 – When contributors upload images to the images are picked up by an experienced editor who hand picks and chooses which images to keep based on a variety of creative choices. It is believed this editor is paid a salary to be selective using their experience and is not judged by performance outcomes for how the image sells later on. It’s an unpredictable system prone to personalities of the photographer and the editor. It’s also slow and requires time for an editor to make a review based upon some factors of what is already in the collection or is simultaneously being submitted. 

    Getty then outsources the keywording to third-parties with unknown quality controls in place.  Keywords that may be trending and important to have are unknown if to be included later. The process can take from weeks to months before it is completed and selected images are available for licensing by a client. This process must be completed before the photographer can move and rejected images somewhere else. Because the Getty photographer base has grown dramatically in recent years, it might be assumed that mistakes can happen along the way due to how the system works.  

    2 – When photographers upload images to iStock they tend to be accepted or rejected within hours to days and it is uncommon that it takes longer than that.  Images are either in or out based upon technical parameters and are rarely commented on for creative subjectivity.  The photographer must do their own keywording and if he/she does it well it can be a big advantage for time to market and for making sure that proper words are included. The photographer can add and subtract imagery at will and track sales practically live. Images that are rejected can be re-worked in order to be accepted.
In theory images uploaded to Getty are licensed for higher prices, but iStock Signature single image prices range from about $25 to $33. If the customer gets an iStock subscription the price per image can get pretty low. On the other hand, back in 2014 I was able to analyze 2013 RF sales of some major Getty contributors. Between 60% and 70% of their sales were for gross fees of less than $25 and the average of those sales was between $4 and $8. Royalties were a percentage of these gross fees. (See here.) Prices have continued to drop since that time.

Getty is also pushing very hard to get RM contributors to move most of their RM images to RF. With Getty’s default search pushing RF fewer and fewer customers even look at RM. So the choice for most contributors is RF images on Getty or RF images on iStock. Where is it easiest to get most of your production accepted and seen and which upload process will require the least effort.

Of course Getty may really unify the entire upload and acceptance process on both sites making it harder on iStock to get images accepted and available for actual review by customers or easier on Uploading itself is only part of the problem.

Copyright © 2016 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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