Stock Image Services: A Clearer Picture
Today, iStockphoto has some 22,000 photographers around the world submitting images to the site’s collection—which contains more than 750,000 images—meaning the company has no photography expenses. This keeps image downloads inexpensive. So inexpensive, in fact, that iStockphoto sells an image every three seconds—or about 10 million this year alone.
Art directors point to the site’s immense collection of images and inexpensive cost as its biggest draws. “I’ve been a member for a while, but only switched for good in the last few months,” says Anthony Gordon, creative director for Virsitil, a small, California-based graphic design company.
“There are finally really good images—at a good price—on iStock,” he says. “I used to look here first, then have to buy somewhere else. Now I can look here and stop searching at other places.”
Photographers apply for an account, are trained on a number of legal and technical issues, complete a quiz, and upload a few sample images in order to be eligible to earn between 20 and 45 percent on each of their images that are sold. “ ... It’s been very viral, very word-of-mouth,” Thompson says. “We have more photographers applying than you can believe.”
Another unique characteristic about iStockphoto is that the site allows for interaction between photographers and designers. “We created this [model] where the photographers see how their work is being used because the designers will actually upload it to show it off,” he says.
“I really like the interaction with other designers and the photographers,” says Gordon. “I have not seen that on the image sites I used to use.”
Thompson points to the site’s affordability as the key to its popularity, with a membership of more than 700,000 that is growing at a rate of about 30,000 per month. “I think most [designers] come and look at our site first, before they’ll spend a whole lot more money somewhere else.”