Getty Image Contributors

November 5th, 2013
There have been various discussions about this over the past couple of years, but I just wanted to refresh.

I was notified by Getty through Flickr for the first time today that they are interested in 19 of my images and I have been in the process of finalizing them for submittal.

If anyone is selling images through the Flickr Collection, please chime in with details concerning your sale rate and any thoughts you might have, positive and negative.

Thanks! :)
November 5th, 2013
November 5th, 2013

I've been selling images through Getty for a couple of years now. Here's a quick summary of what I like and don't like:


* By far the highest payout potential of any of the major stock sites. Earnings from a full-res RF image, if the client pays full price (see below!) is often around $100. Earnings for licensing of an RM image with a wide distribution can reach $2,000+ (sadly I've not yet hit that jackpot, but it does happen!).

* All keywording done for you -- once you submit the image and it's been accepted, that's it as far as you are concerned. This makes it very low-maintenance.

* Older images do continue to sell -- with many stock agencies, once an image is a few months old, it's buried so far in search results that nobody ever finds it.


* They demand exclusive licensing. This is particularly troublesome when you have a client contact you directly to license an image in your Getty collection, and you have to direct them to Getty (and their 80% commission).

* No ability to select whether an image is RF or RM. That's selected for you when your image is chosen, and if you don't like it, tough. Which brings us on to...

* You are not allowed to sell prints of RM licensed images in anything other than a numbered, limited edition. This means that you cannot sell an RM-licensed image through POD sites like FAA.

* They can (and do) sell some RF images through POD sites like FAA. Here's an image by me that's not listed by me. On a 30" wide print, my cut would be $10.

* They will make frankly ludicrous microstock deals with certain companies and 'partner portals', offering them discounts that work well for them in terms of bulk sales, but make the individual artist's cut be completely meaningless. This usage earned me $1.30, and if you are unlucky enough to sell an image through the Beijing Portal, expect to earn in the region of 6 cents.

* They can make deals that make your images available for download to anyone, with only terms and conditions preventing people from doing so (which nobody reads, of course). One such example was the widely-publicised Google Docs fiasco at the beginning of the year.

* They reserve the right (within certain bounds) to reclassify your images as they feel like it. Got an RM image that hasn't sold for a year? They can and will, without even notifying you, reclassify it to an RF image (usually Flickr Open, which pays the least).

* You're either in or you're out. Once you submit an image to them, that's it -- you cannot withdraw just that image, you can only withdraw entirely from Getty (and only then within the terms of the contract you signed).

* No enforcement of RF images. If you find a Getty RF image of yours used without licensing, Getty will not attempt to recover payment.

* Poor communications generally. Things like reclassification of images are badly communicated if at all, and if you have a question, expect to wait weeks for an answer.

As you can see, the negative list is far longer than the positive list, but I still contribute. While there are a lot of annoyances, they are probably the best of a bad bunch -- worse than companies like Stocksy for how you are treated, but with far larger client list resulting in, ultimately, more turnover. I also find that there is very little in the way of 'competition' with what I do outside of Getty -- with the exception of their POD submissions (which are, fortunately, so badly marketed that nobody ever seems to find them), I find it a complementary income stream.

Of course, you need to understand fully the implications of stock photography (someone could buy your RF image and start selling posters or prints of it, with you receiving just that one-off payment), especially when it comes to submitting photos with people in (you have no control over what context they will be placed in). Stock photography isn't right for a lot of people, and you need to be sure it's right for you.

I'd also advise being absolutely clear on the difference between Getty's different offerings of RM Select, RM, RF Flickr and RF Flickr Open before you submit any images to them, as you cannot choose which of these buckets your image has been put into, and it will determine what you can personally do with the image, as well as how much you may earn from it. You can see which bucket your image has been put into in the Contributor Portal.

Finally, you will have been invited to the private Getty Contributors forum on Flickr. I'd strongly advise doing lots of searching and reading there -- you get the 'inside scoop' from people like me (and much more experienced contributors) and can see lots of both the bad and good points. People also post their monthly sales, including who to and how much, so you can see some of the higher amounts you can earn, as well as some of the pitiful amounts some images are sold for.

A long post as usual, so I'll leave it there for now! Let me know if you have any questions!
November 6th, 2013
One other nice thing is that you get to see the company who bought your image (although you can't always figure out how it was used, which can be frustrating!)

Some of my cooler sales include:

Sold for use on the cover of an Italian travel agency's quarterly brochure. ($135 to me)

Sold to Canon, who needed to confirm before buying it that it was indeed shot on a Canon. Sadly I haven't been able to find out the exact use. ($85 to me)

Sold to Boeing Video Services (yes, that Boeing), again no idea as to the usage. ($113 to me)

Sold to the production company of an ABC TV show, so I was really excited to see how that would be used. TV show was cancelled after two episodes! (D'oh!)
November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Wow! Awesome detailed and informative reply, as usual.

I have a question. The new iStock logo has "getty images" underneath:

Does this mean that the negatives in your list apply to iStock contributors as well? If not, how are they connected? I can't seem to find a detailed answer in the iStock FAQs...
November 6th, 2013
@allegresse iStockPhoto was acquired by Getty Images in 2006, and is run as a microstock alternative to Getty's full-price stock image site, aiming for a larger quantity of sales at lower prices per image. iStockPhoto also used to run iStockPro, which was a full-price stock site, but that was merged into Getty's main site after the acquisition.

I am not sufficiently familiar with the contributor operations of iStockPhoto to be able to accurately say which of the negatives apply to both (I've never carefully read an iStockPhoto contributor contract, for instance).

I do know that iStockPhoto do not demand exclusivity, but that you get a higher commission if you choose to exclusively list through them, and that they were also involved in the Google fiasco:

(Note that in the early messages, Google are blamed for stealing the images, which is not the case -- they made a perfectly legitimate arrangement with Getty and iStockPhoto to purchase the images, but the terms that were agreed on behalf of the contributors were, for the individual artist, rather undesirable).
November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Thanks so much Alexis! I've been on the forums trying to soak in whatever info will stick.

Question: When I make a sale, will the format show up on my Sales and Stats list? I ask because I DO have a few images for sale on FAA, but I am hesitant to pull them until I see that Getty has sold one as RM. Once they do that, I plan to sell the image as a limited/numbered/signed edition off-the-wall from the place that kindly displays some of my images.

The fact that Getty can turn around and sell your image on FAA with only a nod to you as the originator is more than a little bit annoying :) Regardless, I'll stick with it and see what comes of it; I still have plenty of marketable images that will not be with Getty :)

Thanks again, superbly helpful as always!
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost Congrats! Your shots are pretty awesome.
Alexis...really like reading your explanations.

November 6th, 2013
@beatnikphoto Thanks Brian!
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost When you list the image, it's either listed as an RM or RF image, so it will sell as that type (assuming it's not been changed due to lack of historic sales). It's decided at submission time, not sale time, whether it's RM or RF.

The statement does confirm what it was sold as. Here's an example statement:

Once you list an RM image on Getty, you are not legally (by the terms of the contract) allowed to list it on a POD site. Statements are a minimum of a month delayed, and this month my statement tracked a sale (which in this case happened to be of an RM image) which occurred in early 2012. It's not feasible to ensure that it does not sell on a POD site after an RM sale has been made via Getty.

Obviously, you need to decide whether violating the contract is worth it to you, but for me, I personally do not consider it to be a wise move. (Getty do have an internal TinEye-type service for tracking unauthorized RM image usage). If an image has been invited to Getty as RM and I feel that I would earn more by selling it as a print, then I do not complete the submission process to Getty. (Bear in mind you can leave images unsubmitted in the Contributor Portal for as long as you like, so you can submit it in a year from now if you decide it's had no print sales and want to try it for stock instead)

Have you checked how many of your invited images have been invited as RM? I would guess that the majority have been selected for Flickr RF or Flickr Open. You can check in the contributor portal (I always always do this before even considering final submission of an image)

Edit: I should also point out that other limitations apply to RM images. Ever licensed your image directly prior to it being invited to Getty? If you licensed it for a fixed period of time, and it's been invited to Getty as an RM image, you cannot submit it until any previous license periods have expired. If you licensed it outright (i.e. a direct RF sale) and it's been invited to Getty as an RM image, you are not permitted to sell it through Getty (unless you can persuade them to change it to RF -- good luck).

Images invited as RM have very complex rights involved with them, and it's important to understand them before submitting them (or to not submit RM-invited images at all, if you don't want the hassle). On the plus side, RM images are the only ones that have a potential of earning thousands of dollars for a single sale.
November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Thanks for the info Alexis! There are only a few images that are both Getty and FAA, and I'm fairly certain they are RF. Since they are currently stuck in the "approval" phase I can't access their details. I do have two I'm still working on because I need to get releases signed, and they are both RF. I certainly don't want a conflict, so if Getty approves an image as RM, and it's on FAA, I will promptly remove it from FAA :)
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost No problem! Good luck, and here's hoping to lots of sales!

One thing I would say on model releases (as I'm guessing they are, rather than property releases) is a moral issue rather than a Getty Images issue.

A lot of photographers 'sugar-coat' a model release, which I personally feel is dishonest. Non-professional models do not understand the stock photography industry, and in my opinion need to be fully informed that you (the photographer) have no control over how the photo will be used, other than that it will not be defamatory or pornographic. They could appear on a billboard, on the front of a magazine, or anywhere else, and they could be appearing to support any product or concept (Preparation H, gay marriage, Christianity, Obama, etc.). If they are not happy with that, they shouldn't sign a release.

Also remember that if you do sell an image that features a non-professional model, and it is used widely (on the cover of a best-selling novel, for instance), that person will immediately assume that you have been paid a five figure sum (which you won't have been!). :)
November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Haha, funny about the five-figure; definitely a misconception! I had to submit a model release on one image and a property release on another. The model was me, and the property was my front yard! They need the release anyway, but these two were pretty easy! I will get an "adult" to sign as witness tomorrow since my son is not 18 yet :)

I will let you know how it goes!
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost Congratulations! Your work is amazing!

@abirkill Love reading your thorough explanations. Thank you for always taking the time.
November 6th, 2013
@nadaa Thanks Nada! :)
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost Good luck Aaron with your sales and endeavor into stock sales!

@abirkill Thank you for such detailed information Alexis! Always appreciated!
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost Having tried about ten micro-stock agencies over the last five or six years (submitting not very much I have to admit), I came to the conclusion to stay with two of them:

Shutterstock: Make the most sales, but at low prices (mostly $0.25)

Dreamstime: Making less sales than Shutterstock but at better pricing that goes up the more you sell of a picture (Earning now about $9.00 for a particular picture per sale).

I give neither of them exclusively (that's an option) to spread the sales.
November 6th, 2013
Congrat's Aaron.
November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Alexis, when I "click" on the icons for images "For Sale" (from the Contributors page) should I see something? When I do so, a generic Getty search page comes up. Do I just need to give it more time or is there another way I can check the details on my images that are for sale? Thanks again for your help; I'll get the hang of this soon! :)
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost I think the search engine takes a few hours to update. When you click on one of your photos in the Contributor Portal, it should take you to this page, which will show all of the photos you have for sale on Getty:

This currently doesn't show anything, but should soon. Here's the equivalent link for me:

While you wait for the search engine to update, you can still view the photos that have been reviewed and accepted for sale by going to the photo's Flickr page and clicking 'You may license this photo on Getty Images', under the Additional Info section, e.g. on this photo:

This will take you to the equivalent Getty Images page for that specific photo, e.g.:

Hopefully that makes sense, let me know if not!
November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Absolutely makes sense and (as always) is exactly what I was looking for, thanks!
November 6th, 2013
@debrac Thanks Debra! :)
November 6th, 2013
Finally, don't forget the best bit -- you get to use one of these now!

November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Haha, I'll put that on a t-shirt right away; and maybe some official-looking "pass" I can wear around my neck! LOL ;)
November 6th, 2013
@abirkill Am I able to add my own "keywords?" I didn't notice an option to do so.
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost Nope, keywording is done entirely by Getty staff, which can be a good thing (consistency, less work for us) or a bad thing (when they screw up).

Keywording takes a couple of weeks to show up usually -- you'll notice on the image of yours I linked to on the Getty site, it has only the most basic keywording (Horizontal, Panoramic, USA, Montana, Photography)

After a week or two, check back and you should see a much more complete set of keywords -- here's a fully-keyworded example:

It's always worth checking the keywording once it's been done, as the editors can make mistakes. I had an image that was of the Bay Bridge (San Francisco, CA) get keyworded as being the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (MD).

Obviously that both sucks in terms of getting my image found by people searching for the Californian bridge, and is unfortunate for clients who wanted a photo of a bridge in Maryland (which, although I've never been, doesn't have the Transamerica Pyramid visible in the background, to the best of my knowledge...)
November 6th, 2013
@archaeofrog Great memory you have!

Alexis summed it up better than I ever could. I have over 30 images on there, they seem to like pics of my cat nowadays. I try not to let it sway what sort of photo's I take. I take them for myself, not to sell. Anyways, their cut is steep 80% as mentioned, not really much else to add.
Good luck
November 6th, 2013
@dreamatrix Thanks Paul! I'm not in it for the money either really; just glad someone's interested in my simple snapshots! :)
November 6th, 2013
@grizzlysghost NP, glad they noticed you ;)
November 6th, 2013
@dreamatrix Yours was the first time I had ever heard of it, so it just stuck in my mind. :)
January 29th, 2014
@grizzlysghost @abirkill - Thanks very much guys for all the info. I thought about lic with Getty but refuse to give up the rights to my photos for what a few bucks! Their payout sucks! Potential reward to sell, get published lic on your own is far far greater.
January 29th, 2014
@michaelelliott I totally agree Michael! So far all of my images are just RF (Royalty Free) so I can still sell them on Fine Art America! And so far, zero sales through Getty.
January 29th, 2014
@grizzlysghost - Thats good. You're work is wonderful! Yeah all that fine print can be confusing. I make my living as a lawyer and do the photography for fun. So I've not had the time for advancing distribution of my work and thought Getty would be easy solution. I've been approached a few times for publishing a NYC book and doing art gallery shows, etc. But no time. My firm is even using my photos in redesigning its reception areas and conference rooms. So I'll do something more eventually, but If I had signed up with Getty I would have lost most of those rights.
January 29th, 2014
@michaelelliott And your images are much more iconic and "sellable" than many of mine, so it's probably a good call to keep them from Getty! You'll find time eventually! :)
February 12th, 2014
Just searched past discussions since I got an invite last night.

@grizzlysghost I was just going to ask how you are doing with Getty then saw your post above! It's kind of a dance with the 'devil' - tempting - but so many conditions. Will need to read up on it.

Thanks @abirkill for all the background info!
February 12th, 2014
@grizzlysghost congratulations! Hope you see alot of good sales
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