Shutterstock, an online marketplace known for its high-quality stock photographs, vectors, illustrations and videos, revealed today that it has surpassed more 300 million downloads since it launched in 2003.

It follows what a company spokesperson has described as its “biggest quarter ever,” totalling 21.4 million downloads in the last three months.

Jon Oringer, CEO and Founder of Shutterstock, told TNW that the milestone proves the Internet is becoming more image and video-dependent than ever before.

“The world is getting more visual, not less,” he said. “All those tens of millions of small businesses around the world, and the millions of big ones, they all need to continue to purchase these images to refresh the way they communicate with the world.”

A library like no other

The growing demand for stock imagery means that the company’s library has risen to 25 million files, up from 19 million in April last year.

Contributors are also being paid more as a result. Shutterstock revealed today that to date, it has paid over $150 million to photographers, videographers, illustrators and designers that have uploaded their work to its global marketplace.

“We have photographers all over the world that were previously lawyers or accountants and didn’t like their jobs,” Oringer added. “They just had photography as a hobby, but now they can do this as a full-time job. That means we’re winning.”

“We will continue to get more local where we are global.”

The United States is Shutterstock’s largest market (no surprises there) but the United Kingdom sits firmly in second place. The company says it will continue to expand internationally in order to stay ahead of its rivals such as Getty Images and iStockphoto.

That doesn’t mean launching in brand new countries – the site is already available in 14 different languages – but talking to existing clients and understanding exactly what sort of content they need.

“We will continue to get more local where we are global,” Oringer said. “So as we start to dig into these different places and provide tools that are scalable for all of them, we believe that this growth will continue.”

Going public

Shutterstock filed for an IPO in May last year, with a proposed maximum offering price of $115 million. It debuted on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at $17 per share last October, but has since grown to $43.07 (accurate April 1).

Shutterstock believes that despite this change, it has retained much of the company culture that made it so successful almost a decade ago.

“We’re always encouraging entrepreneurship,” Oringer said. “We have small teams and a lot of people are working on new stuff or trying to push the envelope.”

“If you ask around the company there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference. In fact, some people will say it feels more like a startup because some of them are now thinking about all the great things we can do as a public company, and the opportunities that are open to us now that we have this structure.”

Starting afresh with Offset

Shutterstock isn’t relying on its initial success, by any means. The service is also developing a new platform, called Offset, which will offer clients a curated collection of extraordinary images. It’s curently in private beta, although a select batch of users will be given access in the next couple of months or so. Some of this material has never been made available through stock image libraries before, and should appeal to high-end editorial magazines and advertising agencies.

Shutterstock’s latest figures are impressive then, but check back in a year from now and they’re likely to be even higher.

Image Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages