Statistics: Available Images, 2016 Licenses

Posted on 2/16/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

I was recently asked if I had any statistics on the number of unique RM/RF images available for commercial licensing.

Last September Justin Brinson said he had more than 500,000,000 unique RM and traditional RF images (no microstock) on his PicturEngine platform. These images were provided by 64 different agencies and a number of individual photographers. Brinson has combined these collections into one database and eliminated duplicates. He has continued to add images and has a somewhat higher number now.

In the chart below I have recorded the numbers of images that some major distributors say they have. When no total number was reported on their web site, I estimated the total based on the number of people images I found in the collections. Not counting Getty’s Editorial division this comes to 435,057,182 many of these images are in multiple collections. I estimate that there may be another 200,000,000 images in all the other smaller collections around the world making a total in the neighborhood of 635,057,182 Creative images. This does not account for all the purely editorial images.


I have divided sales into 4 different types – Subscription, Microstock Single Images, Traditional RF and Rights Managed. I think the total images licensed during 2016 was about 317 million with 76% of them licensed via subscriptions. A little over half of 1% of them were RM and many of those images were licensed at very low prices - in some cases less than Microstock single image prices.

I estimate the gross revenue generated from these sales, worldwide, was about 1.36 Billion. This includes Creative photos and illustration, but does not include Editorial or Video sales. If we add in the Editorial and Video revenue, I think gross sales for the industry was about $2.3 Billion.

It is interesting to consider that if there were 635,057,182 Creative Images available, and they generated $1.36 billion in 2016, the average image generated about $2.14 in gross revenue.

  Images In   People
  Collection Estimate Images
Shutterstock 119,000,000   19,750,154
Getty Creative 17,736,844   4,942,200
Getty editorial 88,635,146   27,076,843
iStock 60,000,000 Estimate 12,807,872
Alamy 96,378,179   13,419,173
AdobeStock/Fotolia 71,942,159   9,681,973
Dreamstime 50,000,000 Estimate 7,252,861
Masterfile 20,000,000 Estimate 3,211,920
Other 200,000,000    
  723,692,328   98,142,996
Rough Images Licensed Average Gross Revenue
Sales Breakout In 2016 Price Generated
Subscription 240,000,000 $1.25 $275,000,000
Microstock Single Image 70,000,000 $8.00 $560,000,000
Traditional RF 5,000,000 $45.00 $225,000,000
Rights Managed 2,000,000 $150.00 $300,000,000
  317,000,000   1,360,000,000

Copyright © 2017 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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