Thursday, March 31, 2011

John Lund Stock Photo Sales Statistics For 2010

Picture of a businesswoman connecting the dots on a dollar sign.
Interesting Statistical Observation: The above image of a woman connecting the dots on a dollar sign has been licensed numerous times, but never earning me more than $1.50 per sale! Huh?

Statistics on my stock photo sales for 2010.

I just spent some time looking at my stock photo sales for the year 2010. These images are distributed through (in alphabetical order) Blend Images, Corbis, Getty and SuperStock. My Animal Antics Funny Animal Pictures are not distributed through these agencies and are not included in these statistics. During 2010 I had approximately 7,000 images online (about half of which were shot by others and submitted through me.) Approximately 1000 of these images are Rights Managed, and the rest are Royalty Free. I have no images in microstock. A caution here…it can be misleading to compare top earning RM images with top earning RF images. Comparing RF shoots with RM shoots would be a better indication of which licensing model can earn more money. Unfortunately I cannot easily track by shoots because of my less-than-thorough data entry habits.
  • 2593 of those approximately 7,000 images actually were licensed during 2010.
  • 1379 stock photos earned me a gross of more than $50.00 each.
  • 844 of those images earned over $100.00 each.
  • Of those, 46 pictures or clips earned me $1,000.00 or more each.
  • 21 stock photos brought in over $2,000.00 each.
  • 9 images brought in over $3,000.00 each.
  • My top earning image brought in $9,301.00.
  • My top top-selling RF image brought in $2,764.00 and was the 14th best selling picture. It sold 115 times (through Blend Images).
  • Of my top selling 100 stock images, 9 were clips and 21 were Royalty Free images.
  • Of my best selling 100 stock photos (including clips), 48 had people in them, 14 had animals, and 4 were still life images.  23 of my 100 top selling stock photos (and clips) had neither people nor animals in them.
  • 16 of my best selling 100 stock photos from 2010 are over a decade old!
I few observations of my own:
  • RF shoots can earn as much as RM, and tend to have more consistent earnings.
  • The right image can have a very long lifespan.
  • The subject matter of the image is less important than the concept.
  • Everything sells…some a lot better than others.
  • There is still money to be made in stock imagery.
Summation: Let me repeat that last bullet point…there is still money to be made in stock photography. Some of those 100 best selling images are lifestyle, most are concept stock images, some include animals, some, but not many, are landscapes. I still can’t figure out whether Rights Managed or Royalty Free will bring in more money, so I do my best to guess which image should go where. But I don’t sweat that too much, because when I take everything into consideration it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference…a great image will sell no matter which licensing model is used.  One thing I can say, an image unmade, or unseen, will not sell. Now I am off to create an image...and upload it!


Flavio Coelho said...

Very nice numbers, John - congrats and thanks for sharing. I think it's important to note that you had those great earnings because you create conceptual images targeted specifically to the stock photos market, right?

Anonymous said...

"•1379 stock photos earned me a gross of more than $50.00 each."

Not clear whether all that follows the above is also gross & therefore before agency cuts.

John Lund said...


All the amounts are those that come to me....


Marco Venturini-Autieri said...

Hi John,
I am not sure I understand: you say that THAT picture never gave you more than $1.50, but you also say you have no picture in microstock. Isn't 1.50 microstock indeed?

Terry Smith said...

John, thank you for sharing. This is great information and very inspirational to all of us shooting stock.

John Lund said...


That $1.50 is my share of a royalty free sale...not on microstock. Heck, I have had many Rights Managed sales less than that! I have had sales (my share) from a single image that ranges from 15 cents to over $1,000.00!


Jaak NIlson said...


Do you sell and distribute your photos mostly as non exclusive or exclusive.


Terry Smith said...

Hi John,

I'm tempted to ask you what the split is between Blend Images, Corbis, Getty, SuperStock, and your own website, but I know for those numbers to be meaningful we would need to know your total images with each. Even then, there's likely a bias for whichever one has more of your most recent material.

So... can I ask it this way? Let's say you had a batch 100 new images ready to go and those 100 represent a cross-section of your work from lifestyle to concepts, etc. Which agency would you send them to based on your sales stats of last year? I know you're a co-founder of Blend, so if you can answer please be unbiased if possible! :)

Thank you,

John Lund said...


Most of my RM is with Getty, almost all of my RF with Blend. As a Blend owner I am biased towards them.

I do believe that stock shooters should diversify. For me, my ethnic content and lifestyle pretty much all goes to does virtually all of my RF. I split my RM between the other three agencies.

I have noticed that my RM on Blend is doing quite well, but it is a fairly small sample which can be an unreliable read....

Hope that helps!


John Lund said...


All my Blend material is non-exclusive, the material at Getty, SuperStock and Corbis is exclusive....


donfarrall said...


Your report reads like an algebraic story problem. I'm thinking that there are enough clues there to plug into an equation and calculate your total earnings. Just kidding, but thanks for the insight.

I used to keep a running tally, not by year, but by total image sales, and was surprised to see how many images earned in excess of $5000, 10,000, 20,000 etc. Your analysis, based on the previous year seems to be more valid.

Keep it up.

Don Farrall

John Lund said...


I think the true value of a stock image isn't revealed for at least five years.... It is amazing how some images can sneak up on you and earn impressive amounts!


Marco Venturini-Autieri said...

Hi John,
Thanks for the answer!
Perhaps it is a matter of definition. You say that $1.50 is not microstock, but I say that if it isn't, then what is microstock? I would think "micro" refers to the payments!
I am on microstock BTW ;-)

John Lund said...


I have long maintained that RM can undersell anything...even micro! You have an interesting point...but my images, despite the "micro" prices, are on macro sites....


Jaak Nilson said...

It is very important how photo agency or portal will display your photos. There is a big difference if your photos are on top or on last page. A photo buyer can not check all photos.


G√ľnther Bader said...

Could you be so kind and explain what does it mean that half of your content is shot by other photographers but submitted by you?

John Lund said...


I used to finance stock shoots by other photographers. We would then submit the images under my name and split the royalties....


Eugene Cheng said...

Hi John

I'm presuming the sales trend will differ much for stock images pertaining to landscape / travel and I'm not sure if you have an analysis on your images sold as photo prints if you are doing so now.


John Lund said...


I imagine your right...landscapes probably would have lower numbers. As for print sales...for me they are virtually non-existent.



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Vin Weathermon said...

Hi John,

Wonder what your take is on this today? Have things wound down or ?

John Lund said...


I haven't seen any significant changes since I wrote the article...same old, same old!


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