The world’s favourite images?

Their shots are downloaded hundreds of times each day and used by designers and art directors the world over: so who are the kings and queens of microstock?

In May 2000, Canadian entrepreneur Bruce Livingstone founded iStockphoto and changed the way images were bought and sold forever. The figures today, for what has become known as microstock, are phenom­­enal.

Livingstone sold his business to Getty Images in 2006 for $50 million: Getty CEO Jonathan Klein claimed that iStockphoto did $850,000 of business in one day last year. Though microstock represents big business for the owners, the core of contributors are still hobbyists, using the system to provide a little extra money each month. Again, it is the sheer scale that is staggering: Shutterstock has 200,000 contributors to its site. Who are they? We asked Fotolia, iStockphoto and Shutterstock to reveal their most popular images over the past few months and the people who took them.

Konstantinos Protogeridis, aka Panorios, is based in Athens. He has been creating stock imagery since 2006 and now works with a team of four people. He exclusively sells his images through iStockphoto: his image, Tree In Palm of Hand is currently the site’s bestseller having been downloaded 3,411 times in the past six months and 12,000 times in all. On average, around 600 of his images are downloaded from the site each month. Apart from trees, he predicts that the next big seller will be pictures of penguins: “Penguins will definitely be the next big thing in stock libraries,” he confidently tells us. And who are we to argue?

Monkey Business
Operating from a 3,000 square foot studio in Oxfordshire, Monkey Business produces stock images on an almost industrial scale, releasing 1,000 a month.

Its smiley picture of a young couple and their family is currently the bestseller on Fotolia, having been down- loaded 1,393 times in the last six months. Monkey Business says it has an incredible 17,927 images available to download from Fotolia. The company is owned by Cathy Yeulet, who has been shooting stock over many years, from rights-managed, to royalty-free and, for the past two years, microstock. Monkey Business is now one of the biggest selling microstock contributors worldwide. All the images are shot by an in-house photographer and art directed by Yeulet. All post-production, from retouching to keywording, is also done in-house. So, what’s the secret to being a microstock chart-topper? “As with all stock photography, we find that a certain image from a shoot will be the defining image,” they say. “We have one image from a nursery shoot, which sold phen-omenally well at Fotolia from the day it appeared on their site. The reason was probably that the shot was taken during a real activity rather than being posed or set up. We work closely with Fotolia who constantly give us feedback about the type of images that they need or are being searched for.”

Although Monkey Business has shot everything from families and babies, to paramedics and hospital life, its people and family images have consistently proved the most popular with buyers.


Denis Vrublevski
Mixed Fruit, with 950 downloads in the past six months, is Shutterstock’s current bestseller. It was taken by Denis Vrublevski who lives and works in Minsk, Belarus, where he has his own studio.

Vrublevski has been working with Shutterstock since 2007 and now has over 13,000 images on the site. He started out as a professional photo-grapher 15 years ago, work-ing in advertising, as well as for various magazines and newspapers. “I enjoy working in stock because it allows me to work more creatively and in subjects that I previously did not have time to address,” he says. Mixed Fruit, he tells us, is “undoubtedly the most popular photo in my portfolio. [It] is pretty universal, allowing for multiple uses in various design projects. Photos with water and milk splashes also perform well”.,,

More from CR

Looking to the Future

In new book ‘This is Advertising’, CR’s Eliza Williams surveys the work that is changing the industry and talks to its leading innovators. In this extract, Williams discusses advertising’s future with Mother founder Robert Saville…

Visual culture on the iPad

With the recent launch of the Guardian’s Eyewitness app and Phaidon’s Design Classics digital edition, the iPad is already proving a tempting medium for design and photography projects

Protest Posters, Parisian Style

Left-wing protesters hijacked the illuminated billboards in a Paris Metro station recently, using them to advertise their own messages instead…

Senior Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency

Head of Digital Content

Red Sofa London