Recently, a lot of chatter spread over the photo-related  internet regarding a cover of TIME magazine whose image was sold for $30. It is not the first time that this magazine used a microstock image for its cover, and certainly not the last.

The tea cup storm was  a bit unfair to the magazine as a microstock site was probably the only place that they could find such an image ( a glass jar full of pennies) . Hopefully, not many pro stock shooter take that kind of image and probably less stock agency have such an image to offer.

But that is nothing compared to this: On a recent sales report ( last month) , an editorial contributing photographer of Getty Images had the nice surprise to see that they had licensed around 80 of his images for less than  : $2000.00

( We are not at liberty to publish exact numbers to protect the photographers’ anonymity )

For those who are paying attention, that is about $11 per image !!! or $25 before commission.

Again, this is a pro, editorial photographer shooting exclusive to semi exclusive content.

The  cover of Time magazine sold for more than that.

The truth needs to be told that Getty Images is ruining the market for pro photographers with prices like these.  They license editorial images as low as $3.63  to major outlets  like Yahoo.

This is even lower than the $5 pricing that was just announced today. What is the point of getting up in the morning if your images will be sold for less than $10? what is the point of having worked so hard, for so many years to have a respected career in photography and see your agency sell you images at these prices?

It is sad to see pro and talented photographers accept such treatment of their work, as if Getty was the last and only place to license images. because keeping your images in a company that license them for these prices is not only painful but criminal. It makes a statement that this is ok and that is all you expect for yours, and other photographers, work.

Sure, you see the Getty credit everywhere, but what you do see, or hear enough, is how it got there. There is on certitude in this industry : Getty Imageshas no respect for the contributors it represents.

More often then not, you hear photo editors who call Getty in order to get a specific photographer  denied their request. Not because the photographer is not available, but because he/she is not staff. They want only their  staff photographers on assignment, not contributors. They also do not want photographers to create a relationship with a client so they also make sure that the same staff photographer is not too often available to the same client

Trade associations should be at shame for not reporting this. Workshops, around the country, should warn their members, who paid a lot of money to attend, of these practices. Getty would be nothing without its contributors yet crushes them under its monstrous weight.

Shake off the 800 pounds Gorilla .

On another Getty note, its experiment into community- B2C-photo for all has quietly shut down. Brainchild of Microstock inventor, Bruce Livingstone,, is no longer:

Dead Jamd

Author: pmelcher


  1. well now i understand why the judge in Chris’ case only awarded him $7 an image… Corbis and Getty and the federal courts agree: photos are worth pennies. Ugh. Thanks for the update, Paul.

  2. Author


    Actually, compared to getty’s pricing, Chris Usher made a good deal. Reminds me of selling stocks just before they collapse.


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