TOP 1000 Stock Photo Buyer’s Searches – THE List

I’m finally getting a decent dataset together to answer the burning question: What are stock photo buyers searching for? Here are THE top 1000 searches made by stock photography buyers over the last 6 months to 2 years.

This data, and whatever else I can gleam from the various datasets I have (around half a million or so searches) will be worked into the picWorkflow stats/analysis tools (they’re nearly ready to go). My first priority with ‘stats’ will be to help you identify the opportunities within your photography portfolio, then more will come to picWorkflow soon 🙂

The list

The font-size is an indicator of the search share, and if you mouse-over you’ll see the exact picNiche rating and the search-share for that phrase (proportional percentage to this specific dataset). I’ve also grabbed picNiche ratings from the picNiche database for a lot of these terms, and highlighted those which represent opportunities.

This topic has some room…This has more…This is crying out for new images.

The search phrases are mostly english-language though there are a few non-english in there, I think I caught all the spammy ones (people it seems, LOVE to search for pornography… not surprising, but a bit of a pain to filter). I’ll steer clear of analysis at this point, though please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

As far as I know, no stock photography agency (microstock or traditional) has put out anymore than their top 25 to top 50 searched terms (though AlamyMeasures is relatively interesting)… so here it is… THE list of stock photo buyer searches: 🙂

business flower car people Woman sexy dog house garden girl cat christmas computer rabbit tree apple passion girls office family wedding nature food wedding chef cats doctor cars wolf dentist money cow money heart vector dogs flowers water bikini water bottle women horse yoga fire dancer baby sky snow leopard massage beauty cup test building beach sun education mountain security skull background dance wine winnipeg road telephone spa truck lingerie truffles smile love nudist happy wood fish london child kids cake webdesign autumn technology network medicine japan winter wood bridge fish fossil lost puppy meghanath fitness financial planning landscape space shopping coffee china green pregnant mountains phoenix soccer halloween climbing brain dragon industry gay construction phone rose bike vulva royal family royalty man bussiness watersport pizza cafe flame builder youtube latex model nude girls student geisha babe clock communication teens ink home earth law grunge clouds worker book models man figure cutout study abroad splash dancing couple sixties tea music rainbow shipping iphone 4 orange painter lawyer lens city beer stocking heels icon banner stars bear nativity surf social media kerviel star under construction alligator snapping turtle madonna business people sailing solar penguin downlouse romantic feet anemone logo adams wall moon server solar energy teacher surprised university sociedade central de cervejas soft dandelions wein jesus panther heart chess motorcycle photolibrary business man black friday planet earth architecture elephant radio new york hands laptop gate help rain sachin tennis mojito seo wedding rehearsal dinner innovation salad architect reference exclusion vector images crowd lizard canadian flag planet abstract interior cruise babes wigs face iphone boxing ring spider freedom wedding dinner school temperatura free photo think prudencia egg calgary animals bird energy scenery hair birdhouse eggs bacon house of clouds legs pantyhose mouse street cruise ship bonsai birds houses umbrella puppies green dog glamour mustard cloud couple leap rope tb trailer mac frog angels drugs bowling shark wedding invitation fence develop business gothic jewish wedding crows nurse antiques furniture web tokyo dancing lenss banana maps football sunset tattoos happy girl health documents web design candy window gold basketball jungle wash your hands liptai claudia firefox eye fishing wedding parents party waiter animal gift epilepsy tasse handwrapped rings tire eiffel tower female face restaurant graffitti dinner party louisiana marl zombie apocalypse waterfall bible business building child walking couples hacker berlin wedding money scream snowboard mandarin career bananas time matteo brighi streetwear free image finder photographer cross chicken snow max havelaar leontopolis obama graph mediation bullet adult american flag 2011 new year galaxy woman face hat java santa life insurance grass nipples pineapple high heels nozzle business meeting worn out paper html code cavalier eagle mascot marriage proposal printer makeup turkey strategy explosions art sunrise stock exchange free guitar mobile phone wedding toast nude girl police badge hockey co workers travel mail sign subatomic particles repair men underwear globe vending machine home icon bow shooter person 3d wedding rehearsal diinner bathroom zxdax birthday furniture wheat highkey tools texas desert texture boxer wellness electrical fans ameba parking lot christmass stock market broker couple laptop ladri industral water tube money tree male models vampire nightlight headbanging puzzle mallorca justin bieber nudes paper biology bussines chinese dining textures medical environment gold user icon paisley hentai mexican food bride icons satisfactory alcohol abuse sand engineer cmu mobiles door jerry lee lewis little girl female table casino big tits hotel eco feather kid wood pellets ipad news india bubbles champagne fun hirsch fotos economics interior design snowflake happy family windmill angel public speaking lion flag japan kyoto smartphone team kid talent parsnip diamond arabian horses oil egypt prince turtle vs with black backgroung wedding fashion gay wedding indian ocean ali ice cream sad panda mandarine ekg snow scene tuxedo silhouette tile rent vintage desk lamp postman paint bucket holiday keyboard rente abbywinters sad girl tooth wedding guest diaper girl crazy penguin catapult edible bed request lake internet connect world card icecream interior finishing leather 1940 ford tin telephone biker cineralla confidence girl glasses palm tree renee olstead cockpit car view erotic paper nature pipe organ park corn tamales boy running taking tv beard floor gay couple laundry brochure manneken pis camera roos red run tot dressing austin mini hall competition casting director update buffet telemarketer japan waseda bob fox beer keg golf peacocks favorites alone policearoc stomping foot hats rockies consulting college tutanchamon sixties cracow tiger dinner parrot algarve happy new year pillows turtles retro background free running arrows kate playground wow ecommerce divorce clipart deer family breakfast devil room steampunk button plage insurance architectural drawings kym lardner ninja jeff gordon man with laptop peanut butter seahorse mysql multiple insert fireworks envelope hairdresser kiss running barge dubai bridge paper stripper marriage proposal anger contortionist lobster bar marie antoinette present gadis bugil bamilk paragraph leaf auto logonet artwork serwer napoli quotes furniture movers father of the bride denim jacket cute vinyl football helmet fakku t shirt girl photo album pedometer toilet bamboo running chart asphalt planets black and white etna modern house apple water bacteria olivier sester shanghai fabian hambuechen member spring amber hallet cosmetics statue of liberty viking irish dance new york street porsche 911 wallpaper electro pregnant sleep calender finance bagpipes chef information christmas party gmail agent books karaoke real estate breasts efl students blackberry liver dark evil terrace kitchen background sound header mm direct games mortgage crisis funny martine broken heart sugar eating stockings ambulance toy careerbuilder 2011 juggling celebrity crow secretary rabiits butler cakes san jose ca breakfast baum dirt road jolene blalock war korean education business woman pear texture wedding speech australia paraguay funny boy fortune cookie montre free stock photo cancer smoke frame penis start bicycle autumn call center coaching photoshop eagle flag burning piano transport images anus email zlatibor formal dinner angelina jolie welding typewriter learn mba salon simple wedding mini running assessment clean torn metal storm harmonica stage dive castle african elephant website buttons filipino family hair style wind turbine code drinking water peter hinwood now operamail honeymoon money motor balloons worship night aruba old dutch windmill toyota idea kittens sexy girl cosplay confetti disco binary code metal multiplex product jazz honig justice gas polish post stamps luxury car horror dolphins storehouse teamwork design ppe istock elephants vectors home appliances silhouette cheerleading bucket chamonix live honey emma watson explosion compass kate beckinsale frightened flamenco marilyn monroe ayurveda garden retro slip faucet sink napkin house interior window cheesy advertisment champagne hot scissors valentine hearts sun power snow ghosts casa 1984 michael radford buy kara men carrying tv watch dial industrial water jailbait meat backache bread forms sheep salsa brown hair paris beginning ladder alberta golf course watermelon cigarette fake nails bonzai tree piano images parking matrix cell phone scared poker sport faces miley the town acer bradley james broken window crime scene hand hanging cup country dance drug deal jewelry gears water industry golden retriever callcenter people beach egyptian pyramid couple love iss logistics indian interior style nativity icon church agency tracker native images ribbon psd vintage clip art modern shelf rocks parrot feather photoshop red eye eavestrough vines farm root domainnames future corn pie technical vine mixcraft forest backlit big butt hot girl recruit visa electron backgrounds notebook paper sightseeing tour dikmenjur horse riding helmet tattoos designs login show dogs curious hawaiian honey toy chest thanatos paznockie stevie nicks drilling rig book pile ancient mayan hieroglyphs hochet whiskey curtain opening white dove butts dental insurance indian girls pic codependency
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  1. Posted February 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    This is a great list, thanks for your effort!

    Did you use only data available for the public (i.e. from Shutterstock, Fotolia, etc.) or some disclosed search data as well? And do you consider the search data from the picniche-website as “buyer searches” as well or only from the “picniche buyer plugin” (if used at all)?

    Bye, Robert

    • bobbigmac
      Posted February 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Thanks 🙂
      All data is from actual image-buyer’s searches through the several search addons (firefox and chrome), plugins (wordpress and ajax) and websites (stockphotofeeds and a couple of other small ones) that I run.

  2. Posted February 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Such information can be very misleading when taken at face value. I would want to know where the data came from and how they get their traffic. I see a large number of terms that suggest the search audience is not geared towards finding stock photography but are average people looking for free, fun photos to look at and download.

    As someone who knows the stock photography business pretty well and also knows how to use search terms I find this dataset to be of very limited use. However, by using such data in conjunction with Google’s Keyword Tool and adding “stock photos” (EX: business stock photos vs 1984 michael radford stock photos) it is possible to ferret out some of the more useful terms found here…but hardly worth the time.

    • bobbigmac
      Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:38 am | Permalink

      Heya Fred

      The data comes from my search tools and sites (as mentioned in the comment above and in previous posts), and from several other site’s tools who use stockphotofeeds as an api to their own search tools. It is primarily sourced from image-buyers searching for microstock images (about 20% of my data comes from a free-image search toolbar) so primarily the bias of this data is towards the long-tail (ie. not corporations).

      I won’t go into detail about why the info in this list is primarily relevant to the readership of this blog, but in brief: the corporate market is NOT the be-all and end-all of stock photography. Whilst sites such as your own (limited library, traditional pricing) appeal primarily towards corporate-clients, the vast majority (by volume) of image-license sales today are at microstock-prices, to microstock customers. With microstock agencies developing their market and ‘pricing up’, there is likely to be a lot of cross-over in future between microstock markets/topics and traditional media-sales.

      I should also note that stock photo searches do not directly coincide with google search analysis (partly because the google-data ‘transparency floor’ is far too high for analysis in the long tail). The opportunites highlighted here are determined from real microstock image sales data, not merely vague search data.

      If you want to understand more about how this data can be relevant to your market, please read a little more around the blog (particularly the tips section or my interviews given to other sites on how to understand and use picNiche data to improve image-sales), I think you’ll find it has a lot more value than you initially thought 🙂

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂

    • bobbigmac
      Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

      On a related note. I invite you (and anybody else with a traditional image-licensing agency) to release their own search data, everyone who reads the picNiche blog would be interested in finding out what your buyers are searching for 🙂

  3. Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    As a picture-library website developer, I wonder if “Dog” is so high because EVERYONE I know uses “Dog” as their test search. I have no clue why that is — possibly because it’s so easy to type — but we see tons of “Dog” searches that are actually just testing of the sites. It is the word I myself use every time on every site. 🙂

    • bobbigmac
      Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      I use cheese or socks, and a friend of mine uses fish. It’s a funny world 😉

      • bobbigmac
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Out of context, his ‘use’ of fish could have been explained better 😉 hehe

      • Posted March 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Yep – funnily enough I tend to use “India”, “Japan”, “Colombia” etc!

  4. Posted February 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    A fascinating, and diverse, list. I wonder who in the world is searching for stock photos using some of these search terms? I’m tempted to put together a profile and write a short story …

  5. Posted February 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    It’s awesome that you’re getting this information out to people, so many thanks! I looked over the list and I was mystified by some of them. A few I didn’t even recognize as words and looked them up 🙂 One that caught my attention was “gadis bugil bamilk”. I didn’t find it in a dictionary so I did a search on google which only returned 4 entries total. I was wondering if you could explain the mechanics such that a term like this is in a list of top 1000 keywords? Is it possible that one user may have searched repeatedly for this term thus raising it on the frequency list?

    Thanks again for posting this – this information always raises the bar, which is a good thing.

    • bobbigmac
      Posted February 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Those are two seperate searches (‘gadis bugil’ and ‘bamilk’) I assumed they were either a direct foreign language word/phrase, or an anglicisation of one.
      All searches are filtered by the originating IP address (so searches by the same person won’t count unless performed repeatedly on new net connections (or intentionally through varying proxies)), or by the date/time of the search where IP is not available.
      It’s also possible it is regional slang or something related to a regional news event (it could be a place/name/etc). I thought it was an odd one, but it was searched quite a bit so I left it in (I just figured that ‘I’ didn’t know what it meant, but someone else may :))

      • bobbigmac
        Posted February 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        A little research… a “gadis bugil” is (i think) a hot indonesian girl. 🙂

  6. Posted February 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for publishing this information and the source from which it was derived. Quite helpful in providing insight to buyer behavior.

  7. Mikey
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    “Justin Bieber” beat “nudes”? HA!

  8. Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    great data. i love it when people share quality information like this.

    is there anyway to see or get some kind of “location” data on where the buyer performed the search from? that would help to know what buyers around the world were looking for in specific markets. if not no worries but as always very very nicely done.

    • bobbigmac
      Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink

      Thanks John 🙂

      I don’t have any specifics per search (I’d have to buy a reliable GeoIP source but might worth figuring something out in future when the dataset is more developed (and I’m not quite so skint :))), but as a very general idea (ballpark estimates based on what I know about the people who use my tools):

      40% North America
      30% Europe & Russia (pretty even east/west split, though mostly english in use)
      15% Middle East and Far East
      10% South America
      5% Random/Unknown

      I expect agency demographics to be more-or-less the same. Figures on US-source earnings from those agencies which share them with contributors are (at least for my own image-sales) about 30% US-source, which I guess when you factor in Canada would probably give about the same 40% I am seeing.

  9. Bodza
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    A lot of this is totally unbelievable! I shoot international travel, and it really seems to be unlikely that there’s more search for Winnipeg that any other city in the world – not to mention many other extremely marginal words and expressions. Don’t waist your time basing your shooting on this!

    • bobbigmac
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      Heya Joe
      Please see the comment above for why this seems to be unintuitive, I assure you, these searches are accurate, just not particularly corporate-focussed due to the fields in which my software/tools are most used.
      On your second point, I agree, whilst these are most-searched, only those marked as presenting an opportunity are ‘really’ worth shooting new images for, the rest are saturated markets (ie. supply currently outstrips demand). The search analytics tools can help determine the actual value of each of these terms.

  10. Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    As a photographer’s assistant, thank you very much for what you do to push this data to the people who utilize it!

  11. Posted March 3, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting the difference in BUSINESS, bussiness, and bussines


  12. Burt
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Fabulous list – thanks! Is this something you can now generate automatically, or does it require a lot of hand manipulation?

    If it can be generated automatically, I think this would be an excellent addition to your website — a page where this list is updated monthly perhaps.

    • bobbigmac
      Posted March 16, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Heya Burt

      It starts as a pretty complex database-query drawing from several sources, but I apply a lot of common-sense filters to the queries (mainly to remove spammy terms, adult stuff, or anything particularly time-relevant: news events or big releases (iphone, ipad, etc) tend to peak on searches for only a few weeks so would have little relevance in a list like this.

      The homepage lists recent top photo niches and is worth keeping an eye on, and the historical record for the picNiche twitter account has some interesting stuff there too (I will reactivate it when I have time to write the new oauth code).

  13. Posted March 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Right: Nude girls, vulvas, cheerleading and pillows… are we still talking microstock??

    • bobbigmac
      Posted March 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Some of the traffic for these searches will not be genuine buyers, but some will, with no way to know which are which, I left these in 🙂

  14. Posted January 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi Bob! The new list is the one you published on the beginning of this year? thanks!

  15. Posted January 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your efforts!

  16. chloe tatum
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Amazingly useful. Thank you for your efforts.

  17. Dee
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, just getting started in stock photography and learning the ropes.

  18. Linda
    Posted April 5, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. Grateful for this discussion.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Top 1000 Stock Buyers Search Terms | PhotoBizCoach on February 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

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  2. […] Первая тысяча слов пользовательских поисков. […]

  3. […] TOP 1000 Stock Photo Buyer's Searches – THE List […]

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