Increased Use Of Certain Keywords

Posted on 4/10/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Over a billion searches are conducted annually on Getty often provides information on a few search terms that are being used more frequently this year than in the previous year. Recently, they provided the following list and the percentage increase in 2017 compared to 2016.
Search Term Percent Images Currently
  Increase Use in Getty Collection
LGBTQ 809% 20,857
Female empowerment 722% 446,469
Women in STEM 526% 12,910
Mental health awareness 258% 398
Real bodies 147% 6,298
Disability 130% 25,772
Man mediation 126% 11,375
Women in technology 111% 561,710
Grungy woman 105% 7,331
Authenticity 104% 906,220
Diversity 104% 635,011
Gritty woman 90% 10,281
Single father 60% 103,193
Transgender 57% 1,684
Gay dads 53% 735

If you’re trying to decide what to shoot, these indications of demand may provide some insights, but keep in mind that there are a lot of other things that would be very helpful to know which Getty doesn’t provide.

I used these search terms to determine how many images Getty currently has in its “Creative” collection for each search. In some cases, there are already a huge number of images buried so deep in the collection that no searcher will ever see them. Are more really needed of that subject matter?

One of the most important things we don’t know is whether there were 50 search in 2016 for a term like “mental health awareness,” or 500, or 5,000. It makes a lot of difference when you think about a 258% increase.

Probably the biggest things stock photographers shooting on speculation need to know is the total searches for these keywords and the percentage of such searches that resulted in a sale.

Even if there is a large increase in demand for a particular subject it may not make a lot of sense to shoot more if there is already a huge oversupply of such images, and when customers use the search term they always find something they can use. At the very least what you produce has to be much more relevant and much better technically than anything already there.

When you look at the 398 “mental health awareness” images a lot of them are of group counseling sessions. If the searcher had replaced “awareness” with “counseling” they would have found 1,961 images. In almost all cases the same images they found using “awareness” were included in a “counseling” search. If the searcher had used the term “mental health group counseling” they would have found 855 images.

If you’re shooting t a group counseling session it might be a good idea to also include “awareness” as a keyword, but it is hard to imagine that people looking for that type of picture wouldn’t be more likely to use “counseling” or “group counseling” as a keyword instead of “awareness.”

Another very important thing to know is how many times a customer using one of the search terms on the list actually found an image they could use and purchased the image. Maybe, everyone who used the search term found what they needed. If so, and depending on the total images licensed, here may be plenty in the collection already.

It is interesting that there was a 526% increase in “women in STEM,” but only 12,910 images available. Meanwhile there are “561,710” images keyworded “women in technology.” It may be possible that some of those 561,710 are women in STEM, but the keyword STEM wasn’t added.

In some cases, it may just be a matter of adding a word to images already shot. Take “single father” for example. You’ve got a picture of a man with two kids (519676722). Does this man not have a wife, or is she behind the camera taking the picture? If this image is used in a story or brochure about “single fathers” is it misrepresenting the reality of the situation? Since this is a stock photo and many generic stock photos are not designed to represent the actual reality of the people in the picture, does it make a difference?

Take a look at the images keyworded “grungy” woman and try to tell me what “grungy” means.
How many of these images were ever licensed for use because the searcher was looking for something grungy?

Copyright © 2018 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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