How Many Flickr Images Will Getty Add?

Posted on 7/14/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

For those currently selling images through Getty, the key question is: How many and how fast will Flickr images will be added to

At the recent Microsoft Pro Photo Summit Joseph Jean Rolland Dube, one of the people who worked on "Project Populace" (the code name for planning the Flickr deal) told the audience that plans called for launch in March 2009 with 2,500 images. Dube is currently vice president for content cevelopment at iStockphoto. When Thomas Hawk published this information on his blog, Bridget Russel of Getty public relations issued an immediate correction saying Getty's actual plans are to launch with "tens of thousands of images, with thousands more added to the collection each month."

We’re told the Getty editors are going to choose the photographers they want to deal with and invite them to sign a contract. The contract will authorize Getty to license the images as RM, RR or RF, but not microstock. In addition, will be a way for Flickr’s photographers to indicate that they would like to have their images reviewed for possible licensing by Getty. Thus, editors may not have to scan 2 billion images to find what they require.

The Editing Process

In the last year, Getty editors have been slow getting through the comparatively small number of images submitted by its existing contract photographers. Will Getty demand that its editors be more productive? Will the company hire more editors or impress iStock “inspectors” into service? (They’ve shown no inclination recently to hire additional staff as that costs money. In fact, the tendency has been to fire people, not hire them.)

Asking the existing staff to suddenly review more images seems an unlikely strategy for success. (We assume they have been working as fast as they can.) However, adjusting priorities and asking editors to spend more time reviewing Flickr images and

dramatically less on the review and acceptance of current photographer production would seem a workable option.

If iStock "reviewers" are used to initially cull the Flickr images, they would need additional training because iStock's acceptance standards differ greatly from Getty's.

The process of accepting and uploading Flickr images is much more complex than accepting images from existing Getty photographers. First, once the editor has chosen images they would like to represent, it will be necessary to get the photographer to sign a Getty contract. If there are people in the picture, the Flickr photographer will need to supply model releases, which most probably don't have.

In many cases, larger files will be needed. More personal contact with the amateurs may be necessary to help them understand Getty's professional requirements. Specific information about the subject may be needed for kewording. It may take more time to integrate 100 images from the Flickr community than is required to add the same number of images from Getty's regular contributors. Regular contributor images are required to meet certain standards.

Taking all these things into account, the number of Flickr images added to the Getty collection may turn out to be very small until Getty can train Flickr contributors.

Customers have been complaining they see the same images every time they go to the Getty site. They go to other sources is to find something different. Could the rejected Getty images be the "difference" customers want? Could Getty's recent file purging be counterproductive?

There one advantage to focusing on the production of Flickr photographers rather than current suppliers. These image makers have much lower expectations. They are not trying to make a living selling stock. For them, every sale, no matter how small or infrequent, is found money.

Copyright © 2008 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:  


  • Bill Brooks Posted Jul 15, 2008
    It may not be necessary to retrain istock editors to Getty standards, as Getty may be moving their standards more in line with istock. The RM industry policy of presenting clients with a carefully edited, select group of images, is dead. RM clients have voted by flicking over to Flickr and other large unedited libraries. Today success is all about pulling clients by offering variety in the content, and not pushing severely edited look alike images at clients.

  • Michelle Solomon Posted Jul 15, 2008
    Hey Jim,
    is it possible that maybe the deal is that Flickr staff have to do the editing, keywording, and checking releases in exchange for a percentage? I noticed this line in your last article about this, which made me think so:
    “They wanted us to do all the heavy lifting… editing, keywording, clearances… But the reason we turned them down was because [the resulting commissions] would not be fair to the photographers,” Murabayashi said
    Do we have any info on the actual deal?
    thanks for the reporting!

  • Gerard Fritz Posted Jul 15, 2008
    If Getty goes down the road of becoming more and more like it's microstock competitors, the last thing seperating it from the rest (best imagery and highest technical quality) will be destroyed.

    Chances are they will keep the current model, controlling the influx of Flckr photogaphers, and quality standards, through the spigot of "invitation only" membership.

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