Most Photographed Cities

Posted on 9/4/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

I saw a story recently that said Dreamstime had identified Kiev as the 15th most photographed city in the world. That surprised me. as I had expected a lot of other cities to be much higher in terms of tourist destinations than Kiev.

I couldn’t find the original Dreamstime story in order to see who they had as number 1, but I found a lot of other lists of top cities and top travel destinations. They were all differed depending on who put together the list. I found one list of “25 Most Photographed Cities in Europe” and Kiev wasn’t on it.

I decided to search Shutterstock’s collection of 216,094,727 images to see which were the top cities with the most photos. See the list of the 64 cities I chose below. Los Angeles, not New York as I had expected, is at the top of the list.

New York was second, but that could include pictures of New York state. When I searched for “New York City” there were only 573,177 images with all three keywords. That put both Bangkok and Moscow ahead of New York City in terms of most photographed.

That seemed surprising until I remembered that there are more photographers from Thailand contributing images to Shutterstock than photographers from any other country in the world according to a survey I reported on a couple years ago. In terms of the number of images in the collection the top producing countries were the Ukraine, Russian Federation and Thailand in that order. The United States was a distant 4th.

Thus, one of things we need to conclude from this list is that the number of images available doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with demand for images of a given location. Rather, it is determined by the number of photographers trying to license the images they produce of the location. It would be very interesting to know how many images of a given city have actually been licensed in a given year, or in the last several years, but no one wants to tell photographers that. So the photographers just keep shooting and producing more great images that no one wants.

Photographers ought to look at the number and quality of the images already available and ask themselves if what they are about to post is really any better than the images already there.

Also, if your images are added to a collection of this size is there really much chance anyone will ever look at them? How long before they are buried so low in the search return that no one will find them? Sure, if they are new to the collection they may stay near the top for a little while. But, how long? A week, a day, an hour?

The image may be of a specific location or monument within the city that can be identified with additional keywords, if the specific subject is what the customer is searching for, but how many images are there of that unique subject?

If a photographer’s purpose in uploading images to a site where potential buyers might see them, is to try to earn money from the images, then it might useful to spend a little time checking out the competition before expending all that energy.

Number City Images
1 Los Angeles 1,015,943
2 New York 851,954
3 Bangkok 783,894
4 Moscow 620,791
5 London 512,749
6 Paris 434,374
7 Rome 289,021
8 Tokyo 277,506
9 Venice 275,528
10 Istanbul 270,181
11 Hong Kong 249,338
12 Singapore 239,290
13 Barcelona 222,998
14 Kiev 209,238
15 Prague 198,816
16 Berlin 180,896
17 St Petersburg 164,495
18 Dubai 158,712
19 Amsterdam 147,465
20 Beijing 135,350
21 Shanghai 129,389
22 Budapest 126,044
23 Madrid 122,337
24 Seoul 112,101
25 Lisbon 111,176
26 San Franciso 106,734
27 Florence 100,978
28 Rio de Janerio 99,663
29 Athens 94,481
30 Jerusalem 93,976
31 Vienna 93,845
32 Brussels 89,851
33 Porto 89,259
34 Warsaw 82,715
35 Sydney 82,408
36 Munich 77,003
37 Stockholm 71,013
38 Valencia 68,484
39 Cape Town 62,352
40 Chicago 62,224
41 Melbourne 61,635
42 Krakow 58,258
43 Sao Paulo 44,268
44 Montrael 44,106
45 Bucharest 40,234
46 Mumbai 39,905
47 Copenhagen 39,013
48 Salzburg 38,802
49 Seattle 35,467
50 Granada 34,047
51 Verona 30,171
52 Dublin 29,947
53 Monaco 28,922
54 Cairo 28,412
55 Buenos Aires 23,807
56 Jakarta 23,704
57 New Delhi 22,484
58 Honolulu 22,228
59 Monte Carlo 17,046
60 Fira 16,255
61 San Sebastian 11,452
62 Nairobi 7,975
63 Brasilia 6,471
64 Bogota 6,184

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:  


  • Ray Laskowitz Posted Sep 8, 2018
    Jim, this can't be current. New Orleans isn't represented. I live in New Orleans, every damn photographer passes through and takes the same ten pictures because my city is the top rated tourist destination in the country and very high in world rankings. Best, Ray

  • Jim Pickerell Posted Sep 14, 2018
    Hi Ray:
    I didn't intend for this to be a comprehensive list of all cities in the world, on selected cities that I happened to search.

    If I had included New Orleans in my search it would be 59th on my list ahead of Monte Carlo with 18,839 photos in the Shutterstock collection.

    I'm sure there may be other cities that I have missed with more images.

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