What Is Getty Images?


Photo of a Getty Images logo

The invention of the World Wide Web is undoubtedly one of, if not the most important and revolutionizing point of human history.

One thing that the internet has allowed in today’s modern world is the creation of businesses that provide all different kinds of products, information and services online. Take the online stock photo industry as an example, did you know that stock photos are a multi-billion dollar industry? And that most of that industry is completely dominated by one massive stock photo titan known as Getty Images?

I didn’t.

At least not until the last few years or so. Over the last few years I have heard many complaints revolving around this company and its business practices,  from website owners trying to make a living to photographers/contributors who work with Getty alike. This is just a short post trying to answer the question, what is Getty Images? I know some of you might be considering Getty Images as a way to market and sell your work, and if that is you then I am truly glad you are here as you most certainly need to read this.

Down at the end I plan to talk real quick about a perfect alternative for marketing and selling your photography online to make money, although this alternative is not limited to just those who are photographers, it’s for anyone that has an interest in making a living on the internet. If I have caught your interest then I invite you to read onward.

What Is Getty Images?

Getty Images is a stock photo agency that has been around since 1995, and as I suggested, it did nothing but grow and grow since then, acquiring many different stock photo companies whether it’s a microstock, midstock, or a macrostock.

Just to elaborate real quick on the differences, microstock is a stock photo company that sells their photos or licenses them for cheap in comparison to midstock and macrostock with prices anywhere from $.25 to $10 for a photo, a midstock photo company will sell theirs anywhere roughly from $10 to $50 dollars, and a macrostock company will sell theirs for anything from $50 to $1000 or more dollars.

It’s pretty crazy for me to imagine paying $1000 to license a single photo, but I do know there is a market for things like that. Getty Images themselves really only sell premier photos, which obviously comes with a premier price, many of which are in the hundreds easy.

Ok there are some key points that need to be covered so let me give you the rundown of what you need to know as a user/website blogger and as a photographer/contributor.

What the Photographer Needs To Know

Photo showing the front page of Getty Images

If you are an aspiring young photographer looking to make a living selling your fantastic work to Getty Images then the first thing you need to know is that Getty is very selective about what photos they allow into their website.

As I mentioned earlier, Getty has acquired many different competing stock photo companies over the last couple decades, some of which are still operational today on the web, and a lot of times that is the way you make it into Getty Images.

As an example, a couple years back Getty bought up a photography website called Flickr, and then Flickr added a licensing feature to certain photos on their website that linked up to Getty’s licensing, so when somebody licenses a photo, the photographer gets compensated roughly 51% of what Flickr makes, but keep in mind that Getty gets a large portion of the profit as well, so when its all set and done the photographer in reality only makes around 30% or even less, really. The other way you can become a contributor other than going through one of Getty’s smaller child sites, is to just apply directly.

Just go to the website and follow the instructions to apply for becoming a contributor and hope they like your work, if they don’t take you then you can wait a month or so and try again if you really wanted to. You need to know though, the normal payout for most contributors is around 20%,  some contributors do have special deals with Getty that get them up to around 30% per sale, but like I said that’s not most situations.

On top of all that just know that recently within the last few years, Getty has released millions of their photo stock for free for people to use, all people need to do is agree to have a footer at the bottom of the photo crediting both Getty Images and the original photographer along with with an embedded link back to Getty and they are free to use many of the photos Getty has to offer, also there are some that are not included in that offer.

This has angered many contributors affiliated with Getty Images over the last few years, feeling devalued by Getty’s business decision. Honestly if you truly are a talented photographer with goals to make it into Getty’s gallery, your time and effort might be better spent working towards a situation that is far more beneficial to you as an individual, a situation that gives you far more control over the way your material is marketed, and the money you make. Like I mentioned, if you want to see what I am talking about then make sure to stick around till the end.

What Users Need To Know

Photo showing a information page on Getty Images

I know I already mentioned how Getty has released a large portion of their photo stock for people to essentially use for free, but to be completely honest, I don’t know if associating with these guys is the best idea, considering how greedy and shady they seem.

Seriously, most of you are not interested in paying large amounts of money to basically rent a digital photo, and even if you had the money and were interested I would still advise some caution. Getty Images is mind blowingly notorious for harassing small websites/blogs by accusing  them of stealing their property and using it unlicensed. Of course, those people didn’t steal anything most of the time, they simply google image searched and found free photos without watermarks that just so happened to be claimed by Getty as their property.

Getty has sent out thousands upon thousands of threatening letters to thousands of small online businesses demanding payment for using their copyrighted material, doesn’t matter that it was unknowing  or not. The amounts they demand are always obnoxiously high amounts in the hundreds that nobody in their right mind would pay for copying a photo off google image, and if you don’t pay they promise legal action towards you.

Getty Images literally has a whole department dedicated to hunting down websites that use their images without paying and serving them letters demanding payment and threatening legal action, not a company I think I would be all that interested in buying from, although I would never pay the amounts they ask for their photos anyways.

They still send these demand letters out even today, and its a bullying tactic, some even think they purposefully allow their photos to be taken off google easily just so they can try and extort you out of money, as to whether or not there is any truth to that I really can’t say, but it wouldn’t surprise me either.

Long story short, if you are a photographer, you can try to get accepted to submit content to Getty, but you will get paid no more than 30%, if you get sales, and you are locked into exclusivity with them on whatever photo you submit to them and they accept. If you are a user looking for photos to use for your website, absolutely do not waste your time with these people, here is a nice resource on finding free, high quality images for your website if you are interested, my gift to you.

If you were interested in selling your talent to Getty but perhaps changed your mind, may I suggest learning to create your own website/blog as a fantastic alternative? It truly is the ideal way to create a second source of income, but one that is more passive than what you are used to, as in you will eventually make money without doing anything if you put in the work to begin with.

You can build a website/blog all about photography and your own work, and I promise it would be a bigger opportunity for you than Getty more than likely ever would be for you. If learning how to build your own website and learning different methods to make money off of that website(including promoting your photography or art) interests you then I invite you to check out my overview of the online school, Wealthy Affiliate. WA is the school that got me started building websites and making a living online, and I promise they can do the same for you if you put in the work to learn. This is not some kind of online get rich quick scheme, its a legitimate school/community that actually teaches you how to build a website the proper way from start to finish, and how to make an income from it. Its free to sign up and begin the courses so if that interests you and you want to read more then click here.

Hopefully this page will help answer the question, what is Getty Images? Are you a contributor to the Getty community? Perhaps you are a blogger who has purchased licensing from Getty, or maybe you have a better suggestion for getting your stock photo images for web content? Doesn’t matter what, I want to hear from you! Make sure to leave your thoughts down below so I can see.

Thank you for reading,




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