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Robert Brook: "It has also been pointed out that many photographers are now choosing not to go down the hack route, but try to get their work placed in premium collections, where the returns per image are vastly greater than what anyone could hope to make here."

 

Sure, but how many get a foot in the door?

 

 

Anyway, I'm not forcing anyone to do it my way. I only know it works for me and notice that the "normal" procedure for entering stock doesn't work for many.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

People can get a foot in the door but they have to be producing work that is wanted both by commercial/edited agencies and more importantly by clients served by those agencies.

 

What doesn't work is shooting basic editorial stock and thinking that somehow that's going to be wanted by commercial agencies. If you shoot lifestyle, business, concept and can style/add value to some extent..... the agencies are ready and willing to take contribs on board. They tend to look to commercial/assignment photographers for most new intake, after all if you are already shooting for clients.....you understand what's required to furnish similar clients via stock.

 

Also numbers is simply not that much of a factor in commercial. You can join an agency with a handfull of images, I've done it and am not alone. You simply won't find any good commercial shooters with 1000s of images waiting for representation on a HD. 

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Robert Brook: "It has been pointed out, that in commercial/creative photography this is nonsense. Buyers generally don't want pictures taken ten years ago, they wan't them done this year if possible. Even a lot of editorial photography dates quite quickly. Even researchers sourcing textbook material would rather have people kitted out for 2014 rather than 1990, if they appear in photos."

 

I agree if there are people and cars in the pictures, but not for nature, buildings, etc. If I look at my sales this month, there are even quite a few scanned slides among them. I do understand that some fields of photography have it harder than others. Street photography will much sooner be outdated than nature.

 

 

I used to believe that there were such things as 'timeless' images.  There aren't.  Even our view of nature changes.  Also bear in mind that buildings and nature are pretty well covered at Shutterstock et al, not to mention hundreds of tourists making a bit of spare cash at Alamy. 

 

 

Robert Brook: "It has also been pointed out that many photographers are now choosing not to go down the hack route, but try to get their work placed in premium collections, where the returns per image are vastly greater than what anyone could hope to make here."

 

Sure, but how many get a foot in the door? For many, Alamy is the only option if they refuse microstock.

 

Start by looking at a lot of contemporary photography in books, galleries etc.  Look at work at high-end collections: Getty/Corbis premium, commercial collections such as Cultura, Blend, specialists such as SPL, creative/art such as Plainpicture, Gallery Stock, Corbis Fine Art and documentary such as VII, Magnum, Getty Reportage.  If any of this inspires you, then that's a start.  Work on a small portfolio.  When you are happy with it, put it online.  Make the images big (don't get neurotic about image theft).  Find out where the submission pages are.  Apply.  

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You can join an agency with a handfull of images, I've done it and am not alone.

 

 

Very true ........ for edited agencies which don't offer 12,783 images of the Taj Mahal or 25,843 Eiffel Towers ;)

But, the OP is talking about Alamy which offers 44.51 million pictures. That requires another strategy.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

 

Eiffel Tower couple taking photo - model released...... 18 results.

 

If people can't shoot the higher value imagery and need to compete with nearly 26k images, they deserve the results they get. Lots of examples where the easy images are piled high but lots of potential at the same location.

Edited by Guest

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"..... and there's more. In total 10 scanned slides sold so far in January 2014 (subjects of the eighties and nineties). Not at all an exception, sell several scanned slides every month."

 

Phillipe, nearly half the pictures I have on Alamy are between 10 and 24 years old and sell regularly, ditto Getty/UIG, SPL.  However, all the older ones sold much better in the years after I took them.  The only reason they sell as they do is because it is subject matter that is still relevant, but hard to find nowadays in the UK.  But they are not 'timeless', they look dated, and any visually trained buyer would spot that.  But occasionally buyers don't mind, or want a dated look or don't care.

 

Robert

Edited by Robert Brook

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You can join an agency with a handfull of images, I've done it and am not alone.

 

 

Very true ........ for edited agencies which don't offer 12,783 images of the Taj Mahal or 25,843 Eiffel Towers ;)

But, the OP is talking about Alamy which offers 44.51 million pictures. That requires another strategy.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

 

Eiffel Tower couple taking photo - model released...... 18 results.

 

If people can't shoot the higher value imagery and need to compete with nearly 26k images, they deserve the results they get. Lots of examples where the easy images are piled high but lots of potential at the same location.

 

 

This is so very true.

 

One of my biggest earners at Getty is a very different (but not "hard" to achieve) view of one of Singapore's most visited and photographed attractions--it has sold several times for commercial use, at very nice commercial rates. The fact there are thousands of images of this iconic subject forced me to look for a view that no one else had yet seen . . . and it paid off, handsomely. I did add to its commercial viability by shooting vertical and leaving clear copyspace top and right too, but I think that's incidental to the image's success.

 

On Alamy, the same attraction has over 1,000 images. I strolled through them to see if there were any similar to mine--not one, yet :-). But what I did notice was that, when sorting them under the "new" tab, images submitted in the past month or so are pretty well exactly the same as images submitted several years ago . . . if this is repeated for lots of subjects, I can see the ranks of those complaining about decreasing and/or lack of sales swelling exponentially in a very short while.

 

dd

Edited by dustydingo
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Jeff, that has crossed my mind; I asked sometime ago about new pseudonym v new account. The consensus seemed to be that a new pseudonym was enough - I remain to be convinced and I may yet test the the idea of a fresh start.

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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There are three stages to building a successful stock library. They have to be done in order.

 

Stage (1) Achieve better technical than your competition. Alamy will help you here.

 

Stage (2) Achieve a better photographic eye than your competition. You have to do this on your own. Alamy does not edit for content or style.

 

Stage (3) Using your better photographic eye, that you achieved in stage (2), build a bigger collection of photographs of more subject matter than your competition.

 

Some stock photographers skip stage (2). This means that all the considerable effort they put into Stage (3) is a waste.

 

Jeff Greenberg is often pointed to as a successful high volume shooter. When I look at his work I can see his thought processes. He shoots high volume, but there is also a method to his madness. He is thinking. He did not skip stage (2). Check out his Hong Kong shoot that starts on his page 4 and goes to the middle of page 11. He never misses an opportunity. He has researched his subject, so he covers all of the Hong Kong ikons. I see a reason for every shot. He is not doing point and shoot. If you are a travel shooter this is your competition.

 

There is no second prize in stock photography. The image that gets first prize in the selection process, gets sold. The image that comes in second gets nothing. Why build a collection of second prize images?

 

Forget about all the other stuff. Achieve stage (2) and then, and only then, work on stage (3)

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I dropped this in as an afterthought earlier, but maybe I should put it here: 

 

'What we keep doing here is "proving" theories with anecdotal evidence.'  One solution fits all, eh?  :wacko: 

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Ed. I too look forward to you updating your blog. Nice writing about ordinary stuff. Wasn't there an old TV show that claimed that there are a "million stories in the naked city". I'm sure you have experienced a few of those. I've only visited NY once, for a day. But what a vibrant city!

 

Ken

 Christo mio! I had no idea so many of you were reading my blog! Being very very Irish, I could have chosen being a dodgy priest, a drunk or a writer. I chose the later. 

 

John, would you believe I was the PR photog in NYC who was paid to follow both the Stones and the Dave Clark Five?  Much better music, come on!  (I'll exempt Elvis from all criticism, and Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong.) 

 

Shel, you say potato and I say potato.  :)

 

Back on subject: What we keep doing here is "proving" theories with anecdotal evidence. 

 

That's pretty groovy, Ed. You've led a really interesting life so far. I was thinking of the early "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (don't worry, I don't) songs. They were, of course, the beginning of something much, much better that still outshines most of today's commercial crap.

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"..... and there's more. In total 10 scanned slides sold so far in January 2014 (subjects of the eighties and nineties). Not at all an exception, sell several scanned slides every month."

 

Phillipe, nearly half the pictures I have on Alamy are between 10 and 24 years old and sell regularly, ditto Getty/UIG, SPL.  However, all the older ones sold much better in the years after I took them.  The only reason they sell as they do is because it is subject matter that is still relevant, but hard to find nowadays in the UK.  But they are not 'timeless', they look dated, and any visually trained buyer would spot that.  But occasionally buyers don't mind, or want a dated look or don't care.

 

Robert

I too still regularly sell scans from the 90's on Alamy. Some of these images actually do better now than they did back then. They are usually subjects that haven't changed much -- e.g. historical architecture, archaeological sites, etc. However, given some of my recent misadventures with QC, I'm not sure that I would be brave enough to start uploading scanned slides again.

 

e.g. cathedral in Zacatecas, Mexico, circa 1992, no doubt looks exactly the same today. Leased not too long ago.

 

B1PG2K.jpg

Edited by John Mitchell
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From what I understand, for me that I started with Alamy a couple of years ago and was having encouraging zooms and sales in the first year and then the crash of ranking or whatever, there is not much hope left in getting back to a decent ranking.

It's not a matter of how good are my pics (honestly, I don't think are qualitatively worse than many contributors with higher rankings and higher sales), but rather of how buried I am under 100s of pages.

It's very sad, I invested a lot of time in uploading to Alamy and I liked the agency since the beginning, but I really feel cut off, now.

Don't know if it worth continuing spending time here, it's like launching objects in a black hole, at this stage...

I wish Alamy can study something to put people with a similar history of mine back on business....

 

V.

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Alamy was/is supposed to operate something called the Diversity Algorithm, for those who remember. The idea of this is that if you achieve a high ranking, and therefore got into the feedback loop of dominating sales, you would automatically be demoted and if you got a low ranking you would be bumped up - to ensure the images kept changing order and stayed fresh.

 

I think the Creative and New filters have affected this but it remains in place - Alamy does shuffle the deck or stir the mud, so to speak.

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This month is pretty strange, probably because of the holidays? I have only a small collection but I'm getting more views than ever. Usually around the 120s, with 1-2 zooms and now in the 300s with no zooms but one sale. So not complaining, but my CTR is terrible right now.

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From what I understand, for me that I started with Alamy a couple of years ago and was having encouraging zooms and sales in the first year and then the crash of ranking or whatever, there is not much hope left in getting back to a decent ranking.

It's not a matter of how good are my pics (honestly, I don't think are qualitatively worse than many contributors with higher rankings and higher sales), but rather of how buried I am under 100s of pages.

It's very sad, I invested a lot of time in uploading to Alamy and I liked the agency since the beginning, but I really feel cut off, now.

Don't know if it worth continuing spending time here, it's like launching objects in a black hole, at this stage...

I wish Alamy can study something to put people with a similar history of mine back on business....

 

V.

Have you tried putting some of your less popular images in a separate pseudonym? I did that a few months ago, and it seems to have boosted my average CTR. Because the new pseudo contains only a small number of images, every time one gets zoomed, the CTR soars. I've actually had a couple of nice textbook sales this month from the new pseudo, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

Edited by John Mitchell

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There are three stages to building a successful stock library....

 

I'd say if you are going to measure success in money, you'd have to understand what market wants. The sooner the better.

YMMV.

GI

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So the frequent advice to newcomers and those with smallish portfolios to add more images is flawed, if CTR is low and you add more of the same, it will stay low. Same on quality because if your CTR is low (median or worse) you are unlikely to get enough views/zooms to shift the CTR upwards. Even if it is possible then it will be very slow during which income will be minimal.

 

The one exception is, as you say, if you can understand what subjects, keywords and images will be in demand going forward (if that is possible on a consistent basis) then one might just move up the ranking but I wonder if such photographers might be better represented by other agencies with greater market presence and focus.

 

I think for newcomers it may be almost impossible to move to the top of the pile (unless Alamy is promoting their work individually direct to possible clients).

 

I wrote the following a while ago:

 

How to enter stock and be a happy camper from the start?

  1. shoot, shoot and shoot even more. Develop your photography skills and master Photoshop
  2. after many years photographing and gathering lots of experience, browse your archive
  3. select at least 4000-5000 of your best and most commercial images
  4. keyword and turn them into Jpegs
  5. copy to external harddisk
  6. send harddisk(s) to agency/agencies
  7. and then ..... upload more and more images in small batches

Decided to skip step 1 to 6 and go straight for step 7 ......?????

Fine by me -_- Just don't moan about poor sales :rolleyes:

 

So, for newcomers: DO NOT START WITH 150 images, but upload in one go 4000-5000 images of a great variety of subjects, meaning thus thousands of very different saleable subjects (you can upload similar ones at a later stage). This way, you can get almost daily sales from the start because you have thousands of fishing lines (=DIFFERENT subjects) in the water. Remember you start with a medium ranking. It's up to you to keep feeding the beast and MAINTAIN that ranking around Alamy's average CTR.

YOU CANNOT DO THAT by first submitting 100 pictures, two months later adding another 50, a couple of months later another 50, and so on. You'll have guaranteed very few sales and see your ranking go down the drain >> images thrown back in search results >> no zooms >> no sales.

Trick is NUMBERS, NUMBERS, VARIETY, VARIETY, VARIETY, QUALITY and have a nose for commercial interesting subjects.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

Philippe,

 

If this is true I better stop completely uploading to alamy since there is no change I will ever sell anything there.

 

Dirk.

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I like your images, Dirk.

 

Paulette

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I like your images, Dirk.

 

Paulette

Thank you very much Paulette, Your wildlife pictures are quiet amazing.

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“If you want to step in the stock business, you need ........... ‘stock’.

I'm sorry if what I wrote is not up your alley, but I keep both feet firmly on the ground, I'm not a dreamer. I follow the traditional stock business (RM) since 2002 and if you find recent positive news, please show it to me, 'cause I can't find it. Instead, I read about prices going down, contributors' shares diminishing (60% > 50%), agencies going broke, publishers going broke, less sales, etc.”  (Arterra)

 

Photography has always been (or at least since the 1950s) a tough and brutal profession, Philippe.  What percentage of graduates of photography/art schools (in the UK) do you think you think end up with full-time careers in photography?  Try counting on one hand.  I know/have known people who graduated from prestigious schools (Westminster, Newport etc) with serious talent give up in despair.  Not due to a lack of feet on the ground or lack of entrepreneurial skills, but because that’s how competitive it is.

 

Even so, at the beginning of the digital era, there was a big gap in the market as publishing went out of kilter with the available supply of cheap imagery, and demand could not be met through assignment work (obviously not cheap).  So anyone who could afford a decent DSLR, and knew what button to press and where to point it could make money from sites like Alamy (even the comedians who kept complaining about their failure to pass QC).  But it couldn’t last, and there was bound to be a reckoning.  Those who didn’t take this opportunity to develop some serious skills, try and understand the market, develop something resembling a style or POV will now need to look elsewhere for part-time earnings.  Or soon.

 

Robert     

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I'm not telling anybody to stop uploading, I only give my 2 cents why people are not selling and keep moaning. It's up to you to give it a thought or to keep dreaming.

 

If you want to step in the stock business, you need ........... "stock".

I'm sorry if what I wrote is not up your alley, but I keep both feet firmly on the ground, I'm not a dreamer. I follow the traditional stock business (RM) since 2002 and if you find recent positive news, please show it to me, 'cause I can't find it. Instead, I read about prices going down, contributors' shares diminishing (60% > 50%), agencies going broke, publishers going broke, less sales, etc.

 

Ask the "moaners" what their experiences are. Click on contributors' avatars and see in their profile page when they became an Alamy member. There are plenty out there who became contributors many, many years ago and still have less than 2000 images on board. Ask their figures if they are willing to share them. Ask them if it's still worth the trouble or do the math yourself. Think you'll find many success stories? Why is it they have so few images after all these years? Because they sell so well? Or lack of motivation because they don't find it worthwhile to spend any more time on it?

Contact Mirco and hear what he's got to say. That guy worked his butt off for Alamy. Having high expectations doesn't last very long when you're not rewarded in time. I bet there are MANY others who were in the same situation we never heard of.

 

There are success stories. But guess when they started and what numbers they have on board (found one who started after 2008 ...??). They still upload because they have regular sales for the reasons I pointed out before: regular sales > constant CTR > better visibility > more zooms > more sales. It's a vicious circle which you can enter when you start right away with LOTS of pictures, not with a handful.

B.t.w. those lucky ones with 10,000+ images have to add more and more pictures NOT to gain more money, but just to acquire the same profits. Tells a lot about the health of the stock business.

 

Is all that Alamy's fault? Certainly not. They are doing the best they can. It's simply the media who refuses to pay what they used to before the crisis in 2007-2008.

 

I say it again, those who want to start from scratch, missed the boat 5-6 years ago. And those good old days are not coming back :(

 

Dirk, just an idea. Why don't you find some other photographers, cooperate and submit all those images (thousands) at Alamy under ONE name. Profit of each other's sales to maintain a good, healthy - and above all - constant CTR. Works for me.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

 

Thanks mentioning me Philippe :). I see i am a hard worker..... But it is true what you say. I worked much for that and reward is still less.....but it doesnt mean that i am giving up. I am still constantly shooting and uploading. Not everything here perhaps but i general i am active. It is indeed a hard business and i feel it works only with lots of energy.

 

I agree again with Philippe. He is a realist and tells what he really thinks.

 

Mirco

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I like your images, Dirk.

 

Paulette

Thank you very much Paulette, Your wildlife pictures are quiet amazing.

 

 

Thanks. I am certainly having amazing experiences.

 

Paulette

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I have not been moaning about the state of the stock industry, just trying to understand how the stock model is working now. I have been involved with stock libraries since the 1980s and editorial since the 70s. Stock had peaked before the end of film, in the 90s, but got a short term boost at the start of this century as others have noted.

 

Before 2009 my stock submissions were constrained by career and family so I agree I rather missed the boat 5-6 (maybe a bit longer) years ago. a worthwhile choice even in retrospect. I am now exploring where and how to apply my photographic effort for best financial results. I am disheartened by stock and news photography in any case; so I am not going to throw numbers at it (it will not feed my soul). I am beginning to feel most of the imagery used (microstock especially) is the visual equivalent of lift music. My reaction is far too often "so what" and I suspect many readers do not even see them. That is not to say excellent work is not being produced; just as with music a lot of appreciation is masked by the constant exposure to the banal or mediocre (including much of mine).

 

I am planning to do more probably long-term, in-depth and self-directed work that combines words and pictures. I have ideas about what is needed, how and where to sell it. It is not a quick fix so I do not expect it to generate crowd sourced competition as there  is no instant gratification. I will probably continue to do a bit of news and especially sport photography for pin money because I can and I enjoy it in moderation.

 

I have always accepted that change is the only constant and have redefined my career on a frequent basis. This is just such an occasion but perhaps a rather bigger one than most.

 

So, [donning new hat], all the best to everyone in this vigorous debate. :)

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"I am planning to do more probably long-term, in-depth and self-directed work that combines words and pictures. I have ideas about what is needed, how and where to sell it. It is not a quick fix so I do not expect it to generate crowd sourced competition as there  is no instant gratification. I will probably continue to do a bit of news and especially sport photography for pin money because I can and I enjoy it in moderation." M Wilson

 

Good luck with that.  There are many ways of adding value, and this is one. 

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I like your images, Dirk.

 

Paulette

Thank you very much Paulette, Your wildlife pictures are quiet amazing.

 

 

Thanks. I am certainly having amazing experiences.

 

Paulette

 

And after all this is the most important,.. you have to enjoy it. 

For me being full employed for more than 30 yr in IT (another old hobby of me that I "sometimes" still like) the goal is to keep my photography hobby interesting.

There is still plenty to learn for me be it technical, artistic, commercial, legal, software, social, ... I learn step by step.

Submitting to stock helped me to improve my skills and the few dollars I earned helped me to buy some new  material. 

The most important thing is I'm still chasing my next photo and  I hope I can keep chasing for a while.

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Robert, you say it like it is.

 

Tough and brutal probably right from the beginning. I guess you could say Mathew Brady (said to be the father or photojournalism) was "shooting stock" of the American Civil War 150 years ago. Put everything he had into it hoping the US would buy his imagery and he'd recoup his investments and be financially rewarded handsomely for his efforts- which never happened, except for his legacy..

 

New 'threats' to the old order are all part of the constant evolution in the industry- later came 35mm, then color, then SLRs, then motor drives, digital, etc.,

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