Stock Photos In Demand

Posted on 9/27/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Yuri Arcurs, probably the world’s most prolific stock photographer, has written a blog post outlining how the demand for stock imagery has changed. He has also identified a few subjects to shoot and ones it is probably best to avoid given declining demand.

Recently, Yuri launched with more than 70,000 images. He has a production staff of over 100 working for him; is the top seller on iStockphoto with more than 1.4 million downloads; as well as the top seller on virtually every other microstock site.

He says, “we have seen a constant decrease in sales in terms of our return per images over the last few years…. Concepts and image types that used to sell better than anything are becoming less and less interesting for buyers because the market is now saturated with them.”

He finds that “’lifestyle’ (imagery) has become such an overly crowded area that only a few images within this category will sell. Many images are lost in the vast sea of millions of similar-looking lifestyle images….In order to excel, your images will really need to have something very, very unique about them to make them stand out from what else is out there.”
Yuri’s team does extensive analysis of the market and has the advantage for being able to track sales of each of Yuri’s images across the entire microstock market. (His images are in virtually all the microstock collections).

He says, “Right now, we’re seeing a very popular market for instagram-looking images. This kind of lifestyle photography has been commercialized to such an extent that now everyone can take fashionista images with their smart phones using one of the 100+ apps readily available to them.” But he predicts the current trend will be short lived as buyers keep looking for the next new manipulation technique that can be applied with a new app.

When it comes to business images he says, “While the classic business concepts are dropping in sales, we see an increase in sales depicting business in crisis….People are less occupied with the fun and happiness of business, and are more focused on serious issues such as long working hours, stressful working environments, (and) back pains from sitting in the office chairs for too long.”

Images of spas used to be in big demand and models are always ready to do a spa shoot, but Yuri says such images have a "seriously unhealthy profit margin right now. There are about 15 high-selling spa images, and each of them has been shot about a gazillion times. The chances that you will hit the jackpot in the area of spa and wellness are very slim,” he adds.

In the medical area there is an oversupply of people in scrubs. Yuri recommends that photographers focus on shooting healthy foods such as “low GI foods, Paleo, raw, low carb, gluten free, lactose intolerance, vegan, dietary supplements and other similarly specific food concepts.”

I talked to Martin Skultety, General Managing Director of the Stockfood agency about this recommendation. He agrees that there is increased demand for images of healthy gluten free foods. But he points out that food photography as a whole only represents about 2%, of the stock photo market. The demand for gluten free food may be increasing, but it is still a very small portion of the total market for food images. 

Copyright © 2012 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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