© Thomas M Barwick INC

Imagine if you could increase the volume of your business by sixteen fold in 4 years, that is a phenomenal achievement and it is exactly what Getty did from 2005 to 2009.  In ‘05 they licensed 1.4 million images and in ‘09 they licensed 22 million, that is 100% growth year over year.  Jonathan Klein had talked about an explosive growth in the use of imagery as far back as early 2006.  That should mean that there is great potential in stock, or at least it is a place a photographer should consider, 22 million seems like there should be a share for everyone.  Here are some other numbers that may help with some perspective.

In 2005, Getty had 423,000 creative images available for licensing.  The average license was $418 with approximately $585 million in sales generated from creative stills.

In 2009, Getty had approximately 9,000,000 images available for licensing (iStock and Getty creative stills).  There are no longer required public disclosures about Getty’s revenue, so revenue for 2009 requires a bit of a guess.  In 2007 Getty had $857 million in revenue with approximately 80% coming from creative stills.  I am going to use a 10% decline in revenue form ‘07 to ’09, could be more, could be less.  Assuming creative stills still accounted for 80% of revenue, you are looking at about $600 million in revenue.  That means the average license was $27.27.

In ’05 the “average” image would have been licensed 3.3 times (1.4 million images licensed divided by 423,000 images available) for a total of $1379.40 in revenue per image.  At a 30% royalty split a photographer could expect $413 per “average” image that year.

In ’09 the “average” image would have been licensed 2.4 times (22 million divided by 9 million images available) for a total of  $65.45 in revenue per image.  At the same 30% split a photographer could expect $19.63 per “average” image in ’09.

While the number of images licensed has grown 16 fold, the number of images available has grown 21 times.

These are all just numbers.  In and of themselves they don’t really mean anything, my calculations could be off significantly (the trends are still the same though).  Each photographer and each image will see wildly different results depending on the collection and type of image.  I don’t really view this as “Good or “Bad”, it just is.  A photographer has very little control at the distribution end, so you need to control what you can, but it is very difficult to produce even the simplest of images for $20.