500px and Getty Images

I recently received and email from 500px that stated “Your photos were selected by Getty Images”. I really didn’t know what this meant, so I looked into it. But first, a little background.

At one time, I posted many of my images to 500px.com. I was hoping that this would be a good forum to post images and have interaction with others about these images. There are discussion groups on 500px and a lot of image traffic. There is also the option to license your images for purchase, so I usually selected that as well. I checked out the discussion boards and found that there was very little activity from users. I also got several likes for photos, but seldom any comments or discussion. I eventually decided that Flickr is a better home for me.

500px was then purchased by a Chinese company called Visual China Group and it seemed that this company would then have the rights to distribute anything that I put on the website. When this happened, I basically stopped posting any images to 500px, but I didn’t bother to delete many of the images that I had already posted there and mostly forgot about the place as I didn’t find it all that useful.

Shortly after VCG purchased 500px, they closed the marketplace and now distribute the images through VCG and Getty Images. I remember reading this news and not really having much interest in this. That was about 8 months ago.

So, now I get a message telling me that my images have been selected by Getty Images, so I went to go check that out. I found that two of the images that I have on the site (out of a total of 21) now say Distributed by Getty. I don’t even think that these are my best images, but they’re OK.

The first one is a long exposure at Inks Lake state park that I had fun shooting during the summer. I like the way it turned out except it is a bit hazy. I have been thinking about this photo recently and maybe trying again from this location.

Long exposure HDR merge at Inks Lake State Park Texas
Nikon D750 +16-35mm f/4; 16mm, f/16, HDR 2.5-20s, ISO100

When I go to the Getty Images link I see this:


So, Getty can potentially make $499 for licensing my photo. From what I can find out, I would get 20% of that. I am not sure. Getty Images tries very hard not to provide any information on their website. I don’t know.

The other image selected is this one taken at Lost Maples State Natural Area after a night of camping and shooting the Milky Way. It’s OK. The low clouds never managed to catch much color from the rising sun. I have never thought much more about this particular photo.

Sun rise at Lost Maples State Natural Area from high cliff
Nikon D750 + 24-120mm, f/4; 30mm, f/8, Multiple, ISO100

One thing that I noticed is that Getty Images didn’t pick up on any of the keywords for the image from 500px. It just says that it is a “green valley”. So, this image is not very discoverable. Maybe someone will see it when searching for canned vegetables.

I have read several rants online in comments sections of stories about Getty Images. Mainly about the really low payout allowing Getty to sell your work and keep a giant share of the revenue. I have never been in photography to make money, so I am not very stressed about this.

I don’t like the idea of some other company somehow getting exclusive rights to my photos, so I stopped uploading to 500px and I don’t have plans to go back.

Do you have a different experience with 500px or Getty Images?


5 thoughts on “500px and Getty Images

  1. Wow Jason, from my perspective they basically stole your work and make money at your expense. I’ve seen 500px before but never joined. I’m an amateur photographer anyway but enjoy it so much.


    1. I put my stuff on 500px knowing that it would be part of a marketplace. This was before VCG bought them and started distributing through Getty Images. I am more curious about what happens than anything. I think that this is more geared for stock photos and I have never been someone who takes intentional stock photos.

      I have never made money from photography anyway, just a fun hobby.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I gave up on 500px partly because, as you say, there’s very little discussion on there and partly because it’s infested with people using scripts and bots to artificially bump up their follower numbers and their picture likes. ( To be fair the latter problem is not just restricted to 500px … )

    However if you’ve managed to get some interest from 500px/Getty without resorting to such chicanery then very well done 🙂

    ( One point is that Getty may not pay out any commission until your balance reaches a certain value so it may be a while before you see any income. )

    Liked by 1 person

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