Jump to content

Critique Wanted

Paul Swinney

Recommended Posts



I've been a long time contributor to Alamy, and while I've had some limited success through the live news option, I've sold very little through the more traditional route and my CTR is 0.3. 


I've pulled together a couple of sub portfolios to highlight what I think are my best photos. I'd really appreciate some advice.




Thank you!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Paul,

No need to provide a link to your portfolio, we can see your images by clicking on the blue number under your name. Glad you're having success with live news. As you can see for your portfolio, you have quite a low CTR compared to the Alamy average (I'm assuming you understand about CTR, there's a lot of posts explaining it).


I think the number one thing I would say is keep a look out in magazines, books, newspapers (if you have an online newspaper on your phone, or go on the newspaper website, every article has a photo at the head, normally a stock picture), websites etc. for stock photos. The image credits will say if the photo is from a stock agency. These are the ones that sell. Compare with the pictures that you are producing.


A lot of your pictures look underexposed and quite over-processed. Is this a look that clients are looking for??


I can't remember seeing photos with such hard edged vignettes published and you've got them on a lot of your pictures. A client can easily apply a vignette themselves; if they don't want a vignette, they can't easily remove it. I very occasionally use vignettes, but very subtly, it is a bit of a gimmick tbh.

A meander in the Arda River near the town of Ardino in the eastern Rhodope Mountains. - Stock Image


An example of an underexposed picture. Are you editing using software? If so, have a look at the histogram position - it will be peaking towards the left on a lot of your pictures.

A view over the old town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city. The city will be European Capital of Culture in 2019. - Stock Image


This almost looks like you've applied an Instagram filter. How often do you see stock photos published with this kind of editing? Again, you're blocking a client from using this picture if they want the subject, but not the editing that you've applied.

A sign pointing to platform one at a British railway station - Stock Image


Underexposed and the shadows need lifting, they're too dark.

Communist era blocks of apartments in northern Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city - Stock Image


The black and white images are very arty. This style looks like it might be more appropriate for a personal website - it's got very high contrast and it looks like you're doing long exposures so the sky is blurred. Again, not a style of picture that you often see published as a stock picture.

The Buzludzha Monument (also known as the Monument House of the Bulgarian Communist Party), built on Buzludzha Peak by the Bulgarian communist regime in central Bulgaria. The monument marks the secret formation of a socialist movement in te area by Dimitar Blagoev in 1891. This led to the creation of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, a forerunner of the Bulgarian Communist Party. - Stock Image

I hope this helps.
Edited by Steve F
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like a lot of the images but my feeling ( for what it is worth) is that you need to think about the balance between photography and stock photography.


There are images with everything at work creating drama when the subject matter probably doesn't call for it. I can only speak about my experiences but based on that most Alamy clients are looking for something that is essentially illustrative. Now, I am not saying that such images are simple or straightforward because they have to be well composed, properly exposed, and so on, because there is enormous competition - but on most occasions they are not award winning as photographs they just do their job as stock images. 


It may sound trite - if so forgive me but since you asked - I'd recommend less thought about photography and more thinking about stock. But that may not be what you want to do with your photography. 



Edited by geogphotos
Link to comment
Share on other sites

in addition to the above, your CTR being low, i wondered about  your caption and KW describe what the image illustrates.


One example:

  THenumber 19 painted on a house in a Village in southern Bulgaria Stock Photo


"THenumber 19 painted on a house in a Village in southern Bulgaria "


I doubt anyone looking for Bulgaria, or house or village would be looking at this image. Also with the type people won't find it searching for "number" (this would at least been alleviated had you used it as a KW)


To me this is a "Street address number 19 (nineteen) painted on a textured cement wall with cracks and peeling paint"


and most of these should be as KW, adding things like "numeral, texture, concrete, decay, old, rustic" etc.  



You also seem to have plenty of Live News which have Stock appeal, but with no update in caption nor KW.


  London, UK. 19th Jan, 2018. Cyclists make their way to work in London Bridge on another cold but clear day in the Stock Photo



This is at minimum "England, Sunrise, Morning, Winter, cycling, bicycle, cyclist, urban, city centre, commute, transport, sunburst"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
On 28/04/2021 at 10:19, geogphotos said:

It may sound trite - if so forgive me but since you asked - I'd recommend less thought about photography and more thinking about stock. But that may not be what you want to do with your photography. 




I agree here. And to take it a little further, I would say to think of stock photography as more "point and shoot", still composing the images - especially when it comes to travel - but not adding the drama. Most editorial stock is used for illustrations, to illustrate a story or a listicle. You can keep adding your dramatic images to your stock portfolio, but they may sell better from your own web site as prints. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.