As posted in the Alamy Contributor Blog, Alamy has made the decision to create a US presence for themselves. They will hopefully have an office in New York by early 2009 in an effort to market their images to a US audience.
Other changes include a decrease of 5% for contributors giving us photographers 60% of direct sales (instead of 65%) and 40% of sales through distributors (down from 45%). This commission change shouldn’t occur till early 2009 as well from what I can tell.
What this means for me
Frankly, I see this as a good thing. While the 60% commission is lower than it was, it’s still higher than many other agencies. (Many seem to split 50/50) Also, as a US based photographer, it means that my images will be marketed heavily in their home country — hopefully allowing them to sell better.
Alamy has always been a European agency selling mainly to that area of the world. Prior to this announcement, the percentage of sales to the US was apparently around 30%. They project that this number will rise with the dedicated US office.
Well, after the current uproar in the stock community with the demise of the Photoshelter Collection, I have done what I perhaps should have done in the first place and renewed my focus on Alamy. Since the Photoshelter closure last week, I’ve submitted two batches of photos to Alamy and they have both been approved. So I’ve just completed keywording all 29 images bringing my total to a few above 80 on sale. By no means a large collection, but I believe I’m at least on track to get to 150 by the end of the month.
I’ll post a few of my current favorites in my collection in no particular order.
The following photo was taken while in Alaska. We took a raft trip down the Chilkat Bald Eagle preserve outside of Haines. I clearly remember trying to catch these speedy birds as they flew past.
This next photo was taken on the same trip. This gives some perspective to the scenery. Nothing makes a person feel so small as to spend some time in the Alaskan wilderness.
The views were absolutely breathtaking as we were on the Chilkat river surrounded by the Chilkat Mountains on both sides.
For those questioning, the above photos were all taken with a Nikon D50 with a Nikon 70-300mm VR lens.
The most amazing thing I found on the Photoshelter Collection during my brief time there was the friendly user forums. With the demise of PSC, the forums were discontinued. Thankfully, Digital Darrell has taken it upon himself to create the Stock Imaging Forum. He’s opened it up to the public and would love for any stock photographers or those interested in the industry to jump over there and check it out. It’s still new, but growing rapidly!
As much as I wish I could give an absolute answer, I’m finding that despite all of the research I did prior to joining Alamy, I’m still learning. While I really didn’t expect to start making sales immediately at Alamy, I’m a little disappointed that I don’t have more views — one of the measures Alamy shows the contributors.
I’m starting to come to the understanding that images need more than just proper exposure and good subjects. Good stock photography must either evoke an emotion, or attempt to sell a product or idea.
I know that this isn’t perhaps a perfect image. But I feel that this one has potential to do well in the Stock world. Not only is it properly exposed and in focus, but it has potential to be used for a variety of advetising uses. Also, I think it’s a bit catchy but then again, I think I’m a bit biased.
While this image may not have as much advertising potential, I find it alluring. Then again, I took it. However, I really think it tells a story. The worn building and the loading dock amist the signs of industry allows the imagination to wander. The whole “if those walls could talk” mentality. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly what it could be used for.
This is another image I really hope does well. I wish the colors were a bit more punchy, but the lion just looks so peaceful — relaxed yet dangerous. Hopefully, emotions may allow this image to sell. We’ll see!
I try really hard not to let my emotions get in the way of my objectiveness, but it is hard at times! Check out my Alamy Portfolio and let me know what you think! Constructive criticism welcome!
I feel it would be remiss if I did no apologize for the long time between this and my last entry. However, with my acceptance to Alamy and my testing of SmugMug, I’ve been somewhat preoccupied. In fact, I’m somewhat amazed at just how much time stock photography takes!
While Alamy doesn’t have overly difficult requirements to meet as far as image uploading goes, they do ask for a few simple things (once you understand them). They require at least 48 megabyte uncompressed files saved in a high quality JPEG format. They also ask that the files have no sharpening applied to them. In my opinion, the hard part is finding technically perfect images which Alamy won’t reject due to image softness.
As an Adobe Lightroom user who shoots in the Nikon RAW format of either my D50 or my D200, I find this rather easy to accomplish. Both of these cameras have an approximate 2/3 ratio of short edge to long edge. For example, my D200 takes photos of 3,872 pixels by 2,592 pixels. The D50 has a similar ratio. Knowing this, if I resize the photos for the longest edge to a length of 5,128 pixels, my photos will be approximately 5,128 by 3,418 pixels or 17,527 pixels. Given that a JPEG format has 8-bits of data per channel per pixel, that brings the file to around 50 MB.
Under the Lightroom export settings, I simply tell it to resize so that the longest side is 5,128 px and to export using the highest quality JPEG compression. I’ve never had a Quality Control rejection using these settings.
It is important to note a few things. First of all, the resulting JPEG will be around 6 – 10 MB. This is because JPEG format uses compression. That is just fine. This is where a lot of people get hung up. Second, if I’ve cropped the photo at all, the size may not be correct. In these instances, it’s important to verify the actual uncompressed size of the final image.
After hearing a lot of people have problems with this process, it occurred to me that I hold very high standards when it comes to my Alamy workflow. I won’t use any original files which need drastic cropping. Even taking just a little off the side of an image will result in a drastic loss of pixels. Also, I ensure that the photos are perfectly in focus and sharp. So far, I’ve not had any problems so I guess it’s working!
I haven’t forgotten my SmugMug vs. Zenfolio debate either. I’m currently in the process of evaluating them and will definitely be posting more information in the next day or so as to how it’s shaping up!
As of this morning, I’ve officially passed the Alamy guidelines and quality control checks and I’m officially represented by Alamy!
I suppose I should back up a little. I’ve been getting more and more into shooting “stock” photography. What this means is that I submit photos I’ve taken that may be of commercial interest to stock agencies. They market the images and sell them and the photographer is paid a commission. There are two major approaches to stock photography — microstock and macrostock. Essentially, microstock groups images quite cheap, generally on a subscription basis. Graphic designers, PR firms and other parties purchase the rights to these images and use them in however they want (or as stipulated by the license agreement). Money can be made by selling large quantities of images.
Macrostock, on the other hand, deals with generally very high quality images which can have tighter restrictions. Images rights are purchased for a specific project. Information such as size of image and production run are all factored in and the buyer is allowed to use the image for the specified time frame. Alamy is one of the major players in the macrostock marketplace.
In order to get accepted by Alamy as a contributor, one must submit four photos for quality inspection. If any of the four aren’t perfect, they reject the whole batch and you have to start over again. Judging by some of the forums I’ve read, this can be a somewhat troublesome task. Thankfully, I didn’t have any trouble so I either got lucky, or my photos are better than I thought. Now that I’ve been accepted, I can submit larger batches of photos (which still have to pass random spot checks for quality) and I can begin hopefully, selling images. Time will tell how well this plays out!
As I write this, my images are in the queue to become publicly viewable within 24 hours. With that said, the logo below is a link to my Alamy home page and should begin to have pictures listed very soon!
Since this is a numbers game (the more photos I have for sale the more I’ll sell), I will continue to upload so this page should have more and more photos as the weeks go by!
I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted if I make a sale!