NYTimes Interview With Jonathan Klein

Posted on 8/29/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Be sure to read Getty Images CEO, Jonathan Klein’s comments in James Estrin’s interview that appeared in the New York Times August 27th.  Among the key takeaways are:

Klein said, “We’ve essentially moved from individual sales of picture rights for a period of time to many more all-you-can-eat subscription deals.” He also pointed out that Getty Images has “moved to a much lower price per picture,” but is delivering many more pictures to many more customers.

He added, “The prices have definitely gone down, but there’s still a part of the market on the commercial side that is spending so much money on what they’re doing that the price of the picture is irrelevant.”

    (Pickerell’s observation: It may be irrelevant for the distributor who makes it up in volume, but for the individual producer it still costs as much, if not more, to produce a single “accepted image.”)
Klein acknowledged, “It’s increasingly difficult to create great content. It’s easy to create content because anyone can take a picture, anybody can blog, but that’s not content that’s going to be monetized.”

The way Getty Images sources imagery has changed. “We have over 200,000 contributors, whereas in the old days it would be 15,000, of whom 4,000 were active. We built a huge business, iStock, built on the fact that everybody has a camera. That business has close to 200,000 individual contributors who are getting royalty checks every month. And those people were lawyers, doctors, garbage men, and now they’re getting a royalty check and they’re seeing their work published.”
    (Pickerell's observation: Klein failed to mention that in 2013 Getty Images total revenue was about the same (maybe a little less) as the company’s total revenue in 2007. However, now the royalties from that revenue are being divided among a huge number of additional contributors.)
On the Embed issue Klein says the only people using embedded images the are, “people who had never bought a photo and were most unlikely to buy a photo. If they want to use this (the photo) in any meaningful way it’s useless because they can’t resize it, they can’t put any copy on it, and they can’t remove the Getty Images name. So professionals aren’t going to use it.”  

“Start-up has been spectacular. We get about 5 million embed views a day. There are about 60,000 websites they’ve appeared on, and they tend to be ones I hadn’t even heard of. The No. 1 site is a British site,hereisthecity.com. Second is eurofootball.ru, and the third one is a magazine in South Africa, huisgenoot.com. Also, AnimalNewYork.com and theweek.com.”

Should photographers depend on stock?  Klein said, “I’ve always said photographers need to have multiple revenue streams. They have to have their assignments, ideally creative or commercial ones, editorial assignments, and they need to have somebody handle distribution or print sales.”

Copyright © 2014 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Aug 29, 2014
    Bottom line: "We don't care if we sell them cheap as long as we get a lot of sales. We don't care if photographers make any money as long as we do."


  • Ron Levy Posted Aug 30, 2014
    Good comment Bill. I would add "...and the shareholders".

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