Getty Images recently opened the door to its site to every photographer who can meet a certain quality standard. iStock has over 25,000 photographers; consider what will happen if a lot of iStockphoto photographers decide they want to put some of their images on the Getty site.
Most can meet the Getty qualifications. Some will have to buy a new higher resolution camera, but it isn’t going to take them long to see that such an expense might be justified. The average photographer is earning less than $2.00 per-image per-year on iStock. The average image on the Getty site earned $327.00 for Getty this year and 30% of that is $98.00. Thus, there is a big incentive for iStock photographers to try to move up the food chain.
Let’s assume that 15,000 iStock photographers decide to put 40 images (the maximum allowed) onto Getty Images next year. Fifteen thousand times 40 equals 600,000 images.
Will all these extra images generate more sales? I think not. Putting more images into the system will give customers more choice, but it is not going to make them want to buy more images at the higher price levels.
I think the increased number of images will lead to a dramatic lowering of the average annual return-per-image. If Getty doubles the number of images on its site I believe the average return-per-image may be only half of what it is now.
Yes, iStock has certainly demonstrated that there is growth in the number of users at the bottom end of the market and a good percentage of them will probably pay somewhat more for images than they are paying now. But there is no way Getty will ever be able to bring a significant number of the iStock customers up to paying anywhere near what the traditional market is currently asking for images.
[tags]photography, photo blog, jim pickerell, stock photography[/tags]