Category Archives: Cutcaster Stats

The numbers.

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Royalty free photos and vectors at Cutcaster

Cutcaster Celebrates 1 Million Images, Quality over Quantity

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Cutcaster, one of the internet’s premier sources of high quality, royalty-free stock images, announced a major milestone as its image collection surpassed 1,000,000 photographs, illustrations, and vector art.

“Everyone’s proud of the recent milestone,” says John Griffin, CEO of Cutcaster. “We weren’t the first or the fastest to a million but from the start we stressed quality over quantity and that guided our image growth strategy. Cutcaster is about providing world-class images to our customers and that will remain our top priority.”

The one-millionth image was submitted by Serbian photographer, iMarin, of a woman singing into a retro microphone. “I have been selling stock since 2006 and uploaded my photos to Cutcaster because of their high commission rates for sellers and their low $25 payout request for getting my earnings,” iMarin explained.

With a global customer base spanning many different industries including publishing, advertising, web design, blogging and product design, it’s crucial that Cutcaster provides images suited to a wide variety of applications as well as innovative solutions to meet their customers image needs. Image buyers have nearly limitless creative options when using Cutcaster images, which are provided under a royalty-free license with the option to purchase additional extended rights.

“Due to the smaller budgets, we are seeing an increased demand for affordable, premium royalty-free images,” Griffin noted. “As a result, Cutcaster is directly addressing the changing needs of the marketplace by providing an expansive selection of high-quality stock images via an affordable, user-friendly licensing model.”

The company attributes its tremendous growth to its innovative business model, which harnesses the power of talented photographers and illustrators worldwide, who regularly upload their work to Cutcaster’s website. Over the last 6 months, Cutcaster’s library has been adding 20,000 new images per week or nearly two images every minute. Cutcaster’s expert review team screens every image for quality and compliance, enforcing some of the strictest standards in the imagery business. “Two out of every three images submitted by approved artists are now accepted at Cutcaster,” Cora Reed, the companies creative director noted.

“The photos I find at Cutcaster feel authentic and work perfectly within my layouts and budget,” says Mike Armenta of Taylor Stitch in San Francisco, who uses Cutcaster’s affordable images to make the newsletters he creates more appealing. “The website is simple to use, has fast search and great customer service.”

Earlier this year, the company introduced the commercially available search engine, SpiralSearch that was custom built using a unique controlled vocabulary and faceted search. SpiralSearch is just one of the many features of “Spiral” which is their custom framework used to build Cutcaster. Today, customers can find great stock images faster, more easily and with precision using the Spiral framework.

Cutcaster was founded in 2007 and has grown into one of the internet’s largest pay-as-you-go and credit-based stock image agencies. The company crowdsources the talent of more than 30,000 digital photographers and illustrators from around the globe who collect earnings each time a customer downloads their images.

1,000,000 Images…Here we come.

Glorious Aerial Sunset

Cutcaster is almost to 1,000,000 new photos and vectors.

We want to celebrate this huge milestone by giving you up to 49% off any image download when you use Cutcaster credits but you have to act quickly. This offer is only valid now until we hit 1 million images so lock in the savings by purchasing a credit package at Cutcaster. See the savings.

Jim Pickerell, Stock Photo Guru, Analyzes Cutcaster’s Picture Buyer Survey

A few weeks back, we posted the first part of our stock picture buying survey. T

he response to the release of information on photo buying habits in the stock industry was great to hear. Many people sent us emails or posted on forums saying how much they appreciated a stock agency sharing information and shedding light on an industry that doesn’t have a lot of publicly available information. One email we got was especially helpful and raised questions we felt could be clarified so readers could do more with the results.

Jim Pickerell, stock photo analyst

"Stock Photo" Living Legend

Jim Pickerell is a stock photo “guru,” whose savvy analysis of industry data and experience in the stock photo business stand up to just about anyone’s around the globe. From the information we shared with Jim, he dug through and analyzed our survey results. Jims’ insights helped our team re-sort the way we arranged the data we had collected and better understand what the data was actually telling us.

Below are portions from an email, we received from Jim, along with additional information, we are releasing today to help others make their assessment of the numbers and data. We didn’t want to add too much opinion below but wanted to share Jim’s thoughts (with his permission of course) and add some more background on the data and panelists. This market information on picture buyers and their habits is even more useful now to those studying the size of the stock photo market and the people who work in it.

Jim Pickerell (Jim):
I presume the respondents to this survey are all from your customer base, and not necessarily a good cross section of microstock customers as a whole (I’m not sure how anyone other than iStock or Shutterstock would ever get such a cross section.)

Cutcaster Response (CC):
We wish they were all current Cutcaster customers but that is not entirely accurate. While we did send the survey to a list of our buyers at Cutcaster, the list encompasses a cross section of buyers who have signed up at Cutcaster, contacts from Adbase (Adbase is a email service provider that has lists of creatives across multiple industries in North America who use creative imagery), image users on 3rd party sites, picture buying forums and individually emailing buyers we know to ask them to participate. Their professional backgrounds covered most industries. Almost all responses came from image buyers in North American with the next largest group being South America and the UK.

It is interesting to me that such a high percentage of the respondents (25.3%) are involved in book, magazine or newspaper publishing. I would think that for the microstock industry as a whole that percentage might be somewhat less, although these people may use a large quantity of images.

We made the same assumption but your observation might be changed by our response to the answers we gave above regarding our survey pool. In addition, the percentage could change as we add people who answered the question with “Other” into industry categories that their job would place them in even if they didn’t click off that industry. Some photo researchers who would work with multiple industries might have thrown this off slightly. We didn’t poll the respondents regarding their use of royalty free vs rights managed but we assume they are using a mixture of both of just RF. Also we think some of the higher end buyers who didn’t know about microstock and the more affordable microstock imagery are starting to find these new agencies and pricing models and moving their licensing dollars to those companies.

Here is a cross section of some of the resources that users who answered that they were invovled in the used these agencies when sourcing information. You can see how much Getty and Corbis dominate and that’s to be expected. The question asked, “What are your top three resources for finding stock photos?” and each row shows one responders’ answers.

Getty Images iStockphoto Alamy Images
Getty Images Shutterstock Alamy Images
Getty Images Corbis Veer Alamy
Corbis iStockphoto Cutcaster
Getty Images Corbis Alamy Images
Getty Images Masterfile
Getty Images Corbis Alamy Images
Alamy Images Corbis Shutterstock
Getty Images Corbis Cutcaster we use many
Getty Images Corbis Google Image
Getty Images Corbis Google Image iStockphoto Alamy
Getty Images Corbis iStockphoto Alamy
Alamy Images Shutterstock Granger

It would be interesting to come up with a total number of times a year these people purchase images compared with the number of times for “graphic design firms” and “Freelancer Ad/Graphic”.

We like your thinking here and will re-sort the data into that view you asked about. Scouring over the responses, it appears the publishing industry is buying a larger amount of images at varying prices but more infrequently versus the “graphic design firms” and “Freelancer Ad/Graphic” companies who download a lot images in smaller numbers and at lower prices throughout the year.

One of the big questions is how much small graphic design firms and freelance graphic artists are driving the business. My guess is that the combined total of the 26.6% of respondents are mostly 1 to 4 person shops and that they purchase imagery a very high number of times per year. (It would be great if you have some type of breakdown of how many images these people used annually.)

From what we can see it appears you are correct. We can re-filter the data to see what we can come up with regarding smaller businesses driving the market changes.

Getting back to the publishers if there is any way to determine how much imagery they are using it would be great. Are they all using more than 50 images per year, or are they only going to microstock sites 2 or 3 times a year. If there is good reason to believe that this group of customers is representative of the industry as a whole, and that they are using a lot of images it says a lot about what the future holds for the traditional licensingmodel.

Here is a sampling of the first 15 results based on pulling some of the information out of our excel sheets. It first shows how many times a year they are buying an image and then how much on average do they spend per image. This appears to be representative of the entire panelist group who responded that they worked in publishing.

1. More than 50 times per year > $101 to $250
2. More than 50 times per year > $101 to $250
3. More than 50 times per year > $101 to $250
4. More than 50 times per year > Over $250
5. 3-10 times per year > $101 to $250
6. More than 50 times per year > $101 to $250
7. More than 10 times per year > $51 to $10
8. More than 10 times per year > $101 to $250
9. More than 50 times per year > $101 to $250
10. More than 50 times per year > $51 to $100
11. More than 50 times per year > $101 to $250
12. More than 50 times per year > Over $250
13. More than 50 times per year > $101 to $250
14. More than 50 times per year >$101 to $250
15. More than 10 times per year >$101 to $250

Another thing that is very interesting is who the 21.3% of “other” buyers are. I would have thought you would have covered virtually everyone in all your other categories of use. More of an explanation of who is in this category would be helpful.

Here is a list of just a few of the job titles that survey respondents used to describe their work. When we dug back over the results from other we realized that some of the respondents could have been grouped in some of the other industry categories and some photo researchers could be lumped into other groups. Below is a short list of some of their responses for other to give you an idea:

1. Occasional buyer small projects
2. Writer/blogger
3. Building my own, small niche web sites
4. Gift Giver
5. Broker buying and sellings businesses
6. Freelance Photo Researcher for book publishers
7. Home entertainment – make DVDs
8. Marketing firm
9. Law Firm
10. TV/broadcast
11. Corporate in-house design unit
12. Record Label
13. Interior design and graphic design
14. Self-employed
15. Wholesale Beverage Distributor

I am surprised that the “government, etc.” category only had 4% of the respondents. I would have thought this group would have been much larger.


53.3% of respondents say they typically spend more than $51 per image. This may be true of your customer base, but it is certainly not true of all microstock customers. Maybe you are only attracting the high end customers. If that is true then it is certainly something that needs to be taken into account when considering the overall survey results.

We don’t only cater to microstock customers because photographers and designers can set their prices at Cutcaster so that is why we believe you will see a broader cross section of industries and spend rates across the board.

Thank you to Jim for providing his insight and letting us respond on our blog. We hope this helps those who want to learn more about he stock photography marketplace in general.

16 Things Picture Buyers dislike about their Stock Agencies

In a continuing effort to release as much information as we can concerning picture buyers and their habits in today’s stock industry, we will look at what things image buyers disliked that their image agency did or wasn’t doing. This question was one part of a two part question relating to what picture buyers liked and didn’t like about the stock agencies they work with. Below is a collection of their responses in no order of importance but cover the range of dislikes that image buyers had.

1. Prefer stock sites that have a current selection images of people using media (my firm sells advertising in magazines, online and mobile devices.) The laptops, computer screens, and mobile devices should be current. People using the devices need to look realistic. They should look somewhat affluent or have some purchasing power.

2. Few images of “ordinary” people of many backgrounds, skin colors or multi-national origins. Few images of disabled individuals or groups doing ordinary (non-medical) activities, bland generic office pictures.

3. Keywords need to be accurately curated, correct caption information, no time to sift through keywording spam. Keyword spam makes me not want to visit a site.

4. Same images on every site and smaller agencies that are different get subsumed by the larger ones

5. Dropping or losing photographer/images and then being unable to re-license them for p/up imagery

6. Caps to RF imagery or microstock imagery

7. Everyone uses the same great images. Should be a system for professional level and entry level buyers so everyone isn’t using the same images/vector files…

8. It’s difficult to find great deals or new imagery since they are all concentrated under Getty and Corbis again…There is very little good, new material.

9. Discontinuing of RF CDs

10. Photos that SCREAM “I’m a stock photo.” More quality stock illustration at lower costs – less computer generated in feel.

11. It’s not very fun and takes a ling time to search for images.

12. Credits packages that do not expire.

13. Sites that don’t allow for repeat download of photos purchased.

14. Overly complex search engines

15. The search engines for iStock and Corbis aren’t very intuitive, or aren’t as intuitive as they could be. Getty has better search filters. The quality of the photos are sometimes hit and miss. I understand that to be acceptable for lower priced images like iStock but some of the other larger ones still have that same issue.

16. I think just having better search and/or search and filtering methods, would save us tremendous amounts of time and get better results. Perhaps better tagging, or more accurate tagging of the images. Many times I will get provocative images when I’m not searching for them.

What do you dislike about the stock agency you choose to work with? Is there anything you hate which they do? What would you change?

Picture Buyer Stats Released – Market Information for Online Image Users

When we decided to re-design and re-write the code for the new Cutcaster site last year, we knew we needed first to get a better idea of who was using Cutcaster, what was their process for using royalty free image libraries and how we could better serve them once we released the new site. Listening to what they told us led how we built Cutcaster and was a valuable undertaking not only for us but we felt that it would be really helpful for our Cutcaster members and the industry in general. Over the past year, we surveyed some of the largest and smallest image buyers using Cutcaster or in the stock photo and clipart industry to learn more about their image buying habits, demographics and photo needs in general. In an effort to provide our users and readers with details that can help educate and improve their sales, we are releasing what we have learned from the buyer surveys to the community at large.

Over the next two weeks, Cutcaster will be releasing a large amount of data from our picture buyer survey to help those interested in the stock photography market or using Cutcaster. If you use this information please link back to Cutcaster ( or this blog post). The survey was completed by 344 image users mostly in the US and Canada who use royalty free or rights managed images. The following results were collected from their responses. Note: Click on the thumbnail images to see the survey results in a larger window.

Chart for What category best describes the type of company or organization for which you work

What category best describes the type of company or organization for which you work

The above shows what type of individuals, companies or industries are buying images at Cutcaster.

Image buyers role at company

When purchasing digital images and illustrations, which of the following activities do you perform?

The above chart shows what role the image buyer plays in their organization’s decision making process for searching, obtaining pricing, purchasing and approval process for using Cutcaster. It will give you an idea for what type of decision makers are coming to Cutcaster to find images and download them on behalf of themselves or their firm.

How many people work at your company?

How many people work at your company?

The above chart shows the average size of the firm that a buyer works for.

How frequently do you purchase stock photography in a typical year?

How frequently do you purchase stock photography in a typical year?

How frequently are image researchers or buyers downloading royalty free images or clipart per year. We can see that a very large percentage of responders said they license more than 50 images a year.

Image buyers annual budget

Image buyers annual budget

Check out how much a typical picture buyer spends on a single image or clipart download from a stock agency. The above chart shows image buyers spend per single image. Remember that this includes both royalty free and rights managed licensing (as well as free).

Next week, Cutcaster will release more information regarding what decisions go into choosing an agency / image library, what picture buyers like most and least about their stock agencies they work with currently and what things image buyers want to see an agency do but aren’t at the moment.

Cutcaster 2009 in Review

Cutcaster had an amazing second year!!!  Here is a quick recap:


  • Hired two more software developers to improve site performance.
  • Cutcaster goes bi-coastal with offices in New York and San Francisco.


  • Started major changes in the way our search engine works.
  • Added 800 photographers and over 45,000 photos and vectors.





  • Increased site speed.
  • Sales grew over 60% from May.


  • Hired a new Creative Director.
  • Started editing and refining the entire collection.


  • Introduced our premium Crescendo Collection.
  • Made further improvements to the search engine and site speed.


  • Hired another software engineer to re-structure our database.
  • Sales increased 30% AGAIN this month!
  • Spoke at an ASPP event in Boston in front of many buyers on stock licensing.
  • Made huge changes to the photo search engine.
  • John got married ;-)


  • Focused on featuring our photographers in specialized clipfolders.
  • Attended PictureHouse, introducing Cutcaster to hundreds of new photo buyers.
  • Halloween sales were way, way up!


  • Spoke at the 6Sight conference about photographers making money off their photos.
  • Grew to 400,000 images strong
  • Added 600 corporate accounts


  • Celebrated a year of growth and success on our second year!
  • Made big plans for 2010!
  • Had a few big orders at the end of the year. Best month ever at Cutcaster. Looking forward to keeping the momentum going into 2010

Cutcaster October Stats and Reviews

Thank you for your support of!

Somebody pinch us.  Is summer over and are we really into Fall?  It’s amazing how fast the days fly by and what has been accomplished in that short period of time at Cutcaster with your help.  We quickly passed 300k uploads to Cutcaster in August but are in need of specific content that our buyers have requested. To see an updated list of images and illustrations that we still need and will be showcased to buyers, view the Photos and Vectors we need page here. We are attending the PictureHouse tradeshow in New York on October 14th and need your shots to show to the hundreds of buyers who will attend this event!  We are at table G4, right next to Getty, so stop by to say hello and enter to win an Amazon Kindle.

Here are a few releases you may not have noticed.
1. Our first premium photography and vector collection was released called Crescendo. I am sure a couple of you noticed the creative firestorm it caused ;-)
2. Scaled pricing for different resolutions was introduced.
3. Expanded the scope of our rights offering with new Extended Licenses.
4. We increased the speed of the site and speed of search. Test it out from your last visit.

We hired a new Creative Director to help with the growing collection. Along with the review team, she will be aggressively editing the collection, building “feature lightboxes,” and communicating with and recruiting new photographers.  She is also helping to improve our upload method and review process in general. You can reach her at

Don’t forget our Affiliate Program!

If you have a personal website, you can use our links and logos here to earn 10% from buyers and 5% from sellers who you refer!

Fresh, New, and Exclusive!
From June to September, we demo’ed the site for and talked with hundreds of new buyers to introduce them to the new Corporate Buyer Accounts.  We have forged personal relationships with our buyers and are responding to their suggestions on content and site mechanics. WE KNOW ATTRACTING  BUYERS IS PRIORITY NUMBER ONE FOR EVERYONE AND WE ARE WORKING HARD TO PROMOTE THE SITE EVERYWHERE.

We know many of you mass market your photos.  Our buyers are also looking for exclusive content and want to find more of it at Cutcaster.  Don’t forget you earn 50% on exclusive content and you can set the price.

Thanks again for submitting to Cutcaster, it is your great work that makes us grow!  Keep an eye out for more improvements to site speed and search in the coming weeks!

Warm Regards,
The Cutcaster team

July Update and Newsletter

With summertime in full swing and the Fourth of July fireworks now just a distant memory or your most recent photo-shoot, we wanted to share our Cutcaster plans that are in full swing for expanding the amount of unique content buyers are asking and searching for at Cutcaster as well as improving the customer experience so more buyers learn about how simple and time saving Cutcaster is to use.

saving time

A few updates:

More and more creatives are discovering how easy to use and organized our Cutcaster Buyer Accounts can make their work lives. They offer the most flexible ways to pay and save buyers both money and time. The buyers accounts have been refined based on feedback we have gotten with regards to streamlining/customizing the invoicing process, creating sub-accounts and downloading comp’ed images.


The ability to buy different photo sizes at different prices is just around the corner. We have been beta testing the functionality so we can offer up to 5 different image sizes for buyers and things are on track for a release by the end of this month.

We began testing out three new Google Adwords campaigns that will be put into full swing by end of August once we get all our tracking and most appropriate keywords in place. In addition, we have continued to optimize the site and your studio pages with search engines so they come up higher in organic search results. A great way you can help us is by linking to the site and your studio from your website with a referral link or through a link exchange. You can also use the “share” button to get more views and sales. If you have a site you want to add to our list of resources, please let us know.


We have started to sell our first few Extended Licenses and are excited to offer the additional rights to our buyers to meet their needs and see the extra money that brings into the contributors. It is a real win-win. If you want to learn more about the additional rights you can purchase, check out the Extended License section of the site.

Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Please double check your keywords so we have clean search results. Here is more info on keywording to help you. You can also flag files that show up in keyword search results where they shouldn’t belong by clicking on the red “x” underneath the thumbnails in the search window. This really helps us.


Thanks again and please be in touch with any feedback or questions you may have. We look forward to a productive summer and busy Fall with all of you.

Your Cutcaster Team