Spending the Day With Getty Images, the Largest Stock Photography Company in the World

Getty Images CEO, Jonathan KleinGetty Images CEO, Jonathan Klein Hosted on Zooomr

Update: My photos of our Getty trip can be seen here.

Kristopher Tate and I are here up in Seattle today in all day meetings with Getty Images as part of a blogger junket put on by Edelman PR with help arranged by Steve Rubel.

Bloggers attending here today include, Mark Bixby, PodTech’s Robert Scoble, TechCrunch’s Marshall Kirpatrick, Buzz Bruggeman, and Lockergnome’s Latthanapon “Ponzi” Indharasophang.

Update: Robert Scoble has a post here as well.

This morning Jonathan Klein, Getty Images Co-Founder and CEO met with us to talk about Getty’s business, where it’s been, where it’s at today, and where it is going. Bruce Livingstone, Founder and CEO of iStockPhoto (which Getty bought earlier this year for $50 million) is also here meeting with us.

I’ll have lots more details later about things going on at Getty, but here are some basic comments from this morning’s meetings.

Getty indeed is a powerhouse. Getty was Co-founded in March of 1995 by Klein and Mark Getty. The company today is the largest stock photography company in the world and includes both stock images sold to marketers as well as editorial images sold from news events around the world.

According to Klein, Getty earns more money each year than their closest competitor, #2 Corbis earns in revenue. At present the site has over 10 million images to search and has 120 million searches per month.

One of Getty’s most popular type of photography comes from their entertainment division. They just earned the most money ever from a shoot with Brad Pitt and Angelina Joele and their new baby. All money raised by that shoot was donated by both Getty and Pitt/Joele to charity.

The average price for a Getty image is about $300, although they have images that have sold for more than $100,000. iStock photo, by contrast, sells their average images for much less, they even have a dollar bin that images get thrown into when they don’t get sales where people can buy photos for as little as $1.

iStockPhoto CEO, Bruce LivingstoneiStockPhoto CEO, Bruce Livingstone Hosted on Zooomr

Getty is focused on getting shots by the Pros up online while iStockPhoto is open to everybody. iStockPhoto adds about 25,000 new photos into their library each month. These photos are selected by a staff of about 45 editors who look for specific photos that they think can sell. According to Bruce, their business is expected to take off much more in the future and they anticipate “hockey stick” like growth as they add new editors and more user generated content.

According to Klein, Getty is increasingly looking to broaden their business internationally. They are actively localizing their web properties in various languages and have one of the largest editorial photographic staff in Iraq today. Klein said that one of the big ways that Getty increases local photography around the world is to send their staff overseas to actually train local photographers who can then shoot for Getty.

Robert Scoble asked Klein about the social user generated content that is appearing on the internet and where he saw this going, especially as it related to editorial useage.

Klein said that he did not see Getty getting into the user generated editorial imagery just quite yet. One of the issues with user generated news photos is that Getty feels that they need to maintain high editorial standards to ensure that photos are not doctored, etc. before they are sent out to publications all over the world. Because of this high scrutiny they only use their pros for these types of shots.

Klein did say though that they were interested in the user generated photography from a consumer perspective but said that this was a business that Getty was not super knowledgeable in and that they would more than likely partner with someone in the future vs. build this type of a business themselves.

According to Klein, Getty Images’ success is largely due to the fact that they were one of the first stock companies to understand that the digital world was coming. They were one of the first stock agencies to aggressively build out a digital library and to digitize their content for online delivery.

I asked Klein if he saw room between the $1.85 iStockPhoto image and the high end Getty images and he said that he thought that Getty would continue to close in on this gap area in the future.

The biggest change coming for the stock business according to Klein is the proliferation of great images that are increasingly being created due to lower barriers to entry for fine photography. As the digital cameras of the world get better and better and cheaper and cheaper, more and more people are able to create stunning images. This is something that Getty is hoping to capitalize on by opening up Getty Images themselves to many more Pros in the future through paid site exposure on Getty’s site as well as capitalizing on the amateur images being created through iStockPhoto.

4 Replies to “Spending the Day With Getty Images, the Largest Stock Photography Company in the World”

  1. Thomas:

    It is fascinating that you are meeting with Getty.

    It is interesting that Klein observes the rise of photo sharing sites and has even acquired iStockPhoto. It is also very telling when he says essentially that he will watch that market but that Getty needs to “maintain high editorial standards”

    Flickr and Zooomr are gaining ground in the low-end marginal customers, with increasing traction for serious professional applications. Also it is not surprise that Getty is trrying to enter into the disruptive business model by buying iStockphoto.

    The trend of disruption tends to follow a similar pattern across many industries, whether it is PCs vs large computer systems, iTunes vs CD sales or a free commuter newspapers vs established newspaper giants.

    Waiting and watching the new disruption is a common pitfall for companies. Cramming some aspect of the new disruptive thing into the current business model is a common response. (Newspapers did this with their online strategy for most of the past five years. Doesn’t work.)

    The very difficult challenge for Getty Images, or any other company in this position, is to balance these two conflicting corporate goals:
    * Support the current business and its customers;
    * Grow new business opportunities which potentially cannibalize the current business;

    There is a method to do this, but it is certainly not easy.

    Separate strategic business questions into three files
    1)Revitalizing the current business;
    2)Abandoning processes, products and services that customers no longer value or can’t earn their keep;
    3)Creating new opportunities for the future.

    Details on how this technique would apply in the newspaper industry are discussed in the link below. It would seem to apply to Getty’s business as well:


  2. “The average price for a Getty image is $300.00.”

    As long as Getty insists on charging those kind of prices, it is on its way to biting the dust.

    It’s not as if it is selling one photograph exclusively — once. The photo is not exclusive. Getty is selling it over and over again at an exclusive price.

    It has its stock photography section, you say? Most of the content on the cheaper stock photography sites, including Getty, is crap. I believe anyone can submit work for sale — amateurs and all. That’s why it’s crap.

    It will just take one photography company to realize the money-making potential of charging reasonable prices for professional, non-exclusive photography to knock Getty off its high chair.

    One photograph at $300.00 sold, say, five times = $1,500.
    Same photograph at $20.00 sold, say 100 times = $2,000.

    Getty’s content will languish in cyberspace, as does much of it already does, and Getty will die.

  3. Website? Not anymore. Getty threatened the little man into a paranoid frenzy of pulling down websites and hiding. Pictures on a website, heck thumbnails on a site, built for STUDENTS, the subject of possible copyright infringement action?!?! Really. Go justice!

    Yeah, yeah, I know what the law reads, very strict, but given it was written eons ago, are we so archaic of a society that we do not realize laws need to be updated with technology? Does that make it any better? These rich trying to get richer lot will eventually be walking around a wasteland attempting to eat one another. The rest of us will not be here to see it. They will have wiped of off this rock. Great world. Thanks for the memories.

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