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There's much about the stock photography industry I don't understand. Not least is why anyone buys images from Alamy when there are so many other agencies supplying images from 49 cents to around $40. How do Alamy manage to compete with this? I must admit I can't get my head round microstock either. Why would anyone want to sell an image for under 50c. Please explain. This has bugged me for a while. Also, with most other agencies following a microstock model, is Alamy flying in the face of current trends and can it survive? I'm plain confused by it all.  :unsure:

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There's much about the stock photography industry I don't understand. Not least is why anyone buys images from Alamy when there are so many other agencies supplying images from 49 cents to around $40. How do Alamy manage to compete with this? I must admit I can't get my head round microstock either. Why would anyone want to sell an image for under 50c. Please explain. This has bugged me for a while. Also, with most other agencies following a microstock model, is Alamy flying in the face of current trends and can it survive? I'm plain confused by it all.  :unsure:

 

I agree, it's all a bit overwhelming. Alamy's main competitive advantage seems to be that, as it claims, it has images that no one else has due to its open-door policy. I'm not into microstock either, but it appears to be all about volume -- i.e. microstock has become a viable option for people who shoot zillions of royalty-free type images and can sell them by the bushel. Can Alamy survive? Don't know the answer to that one, but after investing so much time and effort, I'm kinda hoping it does.

Edited by John Mitchell
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It has been my experience that it depends on your market. Travel images seem to be a dime (or 49 cents) a dozen, as are setup-looking "lifestyle" images. Our market is primarily textbook sales, an area that microstock shooters haven't gotten into. Researchers simply can't find a lot of textbook-appropriate imagery on microstock sites, so ours sell pretty well on Alamy. We average 20-25 licenses a month. Prices for textbook licenses have dropped dramatically in recent years, but are still way above 49 cents. We also cover a lot of politics and current events (perfect for US social studies books), which also aren't readily available on microstock.

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It has been my experience that it depends on your market. Travel images seem to be a dime (or 49 cents) a dozen, as are setup-looking "lifestyle" images. Our market is primarily textbook sales, an area that microstock shooters haven't gotten into. Researchers simply can't find a lot of textbook-appropriate imagery on microstock sites, so ours sell pretty well on Alamy. We average 20-25 licenses a month. Prices for textbook licenses have dropped dramatically in recent years, but are still way above 49 cents. We also cover a lot of politics and current events (perfect for US social studies books), which also aren't readily available on microstock.

 

Most of my sales, the decent ones anyway, are to textbook and retail book publishers. When/if those markets dry up, I'll probably have to open a a lemonade stand.

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Are set up lifestyle type shots on micro-stock so in demand that 49cents is considered a reasonable sale? I don't think I've had a pic sell more than four times on Alamy, so why would that 49cent pic sell a few hundred times? A lemonade stand sounds like a great idea John but I'm afraid the weather here isn't conducive to selling cold drinks. Maybe an umbrella stand? :) 

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Depending on usage / volume images can cost Alamy pricing even on the micros but, on the other hand, bloggers, publishers of low volume ebooks, folks doing in-house powerpoints etc need something cheap and cheerful and there are a LOT of these type of buyers.  Personally, over the last year  the ratio of average sale price between MS and Alamy is 1:113 but saleswise it's 1500:1 so makes sense for the small time producer.   

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Are set up lifestyle type shots on micro-stock so in demand that 49cents is considered a reasonable sale? I don't think I've had a pic sell more than four times on Alamy, so why would that 49cent pic sell a few hundred times? A lemonade stand sounds like a great idea John but I'm afraid the weather here isn't conducive to selling cold drinks. Maybe an umbrella stand? :)

 

An umbrella stand might work. However, kids are now charging at least $1.00 for a glass of lemonade. That's way better than microstock.

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Are set up lifestyle type shots on micro-stock so in demand that 49cents is considered a reasonable sale? I don't think I've had a pic sell more than four times on Alamy, so why would that 49cent pic sell a few hundred times? A lemonade stand sounds like a great idea John but I'm afraid the weather here isn't conducive to selling cold drinks. Maybe an umbrella stand? :)

 

An umbrella stand might work. However, kids are now charging at least $1.00 for a glass of lemonade. That's way better than microstock.

 

Maybe hot lemonade is a better bet then. :)

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Depending on usage / volume images can cost Alamy pricing even on the micros but, on the other hand, bloggers, publishers of low volume ebooks, folks doing in-house powerpoints etc need something cheap and cheerful and there are a LOT of these type of buyers.  Personally, over the last year  the ratio of average sale price between MS and Alamy is 1:113 but saleswise it's 1500:1 so makes sense for the small time producer.   

Good point.

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Depending on usage / volume images can cost Alamy pricing even on the micros but, on the other hand, bloggers, publishers of low volume ebooks, folks doing in-house powerpoints etc need something cheap and cheerful and there are a LOT of these type of buyers.  Personally, over the last year  the ratio of average sale price between MS and Alamy is 1:113 but saleswise it's 1500:1 so makes sense for the small time producer.   

Good point.

 

 

Or should that be "Good pint" :)

 

Allan

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Like others have said, it is about having images that can't be found on the micro sites, or offer something else, like expert captions that photo buyers know they can trust - I know I hear from photo buyers all the time that are grateful for my "expert" knowledge in my chosen fields, simply because quite often photo researchers don't really know much about the topic(s) they're sourcing photos for when it comes to textbooks.

 

I've had a number of my images being licensed 30+ times on Alamy since I signed up in 2006. Alamy is working really well for me and I am happy with both volume and pricing.

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Like others have said, it is about having images that can't be found on the micro sites, or offer something else, like expert captions that photo buyers know they can trust - I know I hear from photo buyers all the time that are grateful for my "expert" knowledge in my chosen fields, simply because quite often photo researchers don't really know much about the topic(s) they're sourcing photos for when it comes to textbooks.

 

I've had a number of my images being licensed 30+ times on Alamy since I signed up in 2006. Alamy is working really well for me and I am happy with both volume and pricing.

I don't think there are too many who have a specialised subject like yours Mike, are there? I think 30+ sales for the same image on Alamy must be quite unique.

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I think there are a few photographers on Alamy that more or less specialize in certain topics. But there are very few, on Alamy as well as in general, that shoot law enforcement, prisons, crime scenes etc. I'm sure some would want to - it seems a lot more fun and exciting than it actually is - but the biggest obstacle for people is getting access.

 

It can be hard to get permission from a prison, a police department, a sheriff's office, etc to get permission to visit and/or go on ride-alongs to photograph. I've been fortunate in that I got started early, in 1999 not even a year after I moved to the US, so I already had good, solid connections at a large number of department and agencies before the "security mindedness" went through the roof.

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...Our market is primarily textbook sales, an area that microstock shooters haven't gotten into. Researchers simply can't find a lot of textbook-appropriate imagery on microstock sites...

... Prices for textbook licenses have dropped dramatically in recent years...

 

Quick research into textbook credit pages shows a lot of microstock credits (i.e shutt..ock), sometimes 100%.

 

Alamy's US textbook prices might have dropped over the years. In my experience, prices at (some) specialists have been stable. What has been eroding are the rights granted for the price. Still routinely get $350 gross from Pearson (college-level). Alamy can't charge that as it is a generalist.

 

GI

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Specialize (special access, special knowledge, special effort, in-depth coverage, etc) and shoot for a specific market.

 

GI

 

I make textbook sales weekly, mainly through two specialist suppliers, but occasionally here.  Nearly all my sales are of work done in the 1990s (environmental science).  Some was obtained by access that would be very difficult to obtain now.  But the biggest factor of all is that most of what I shot doesn't exist anymore, but is still relevant (industries quickly caught on to the fact that the environmental improvements they need to prioritise where the visible ones).   Usage is not confined to books about the environment.  Images from a project I did on one wonderful place near Pitsea, Essex, are frequently used in chemistry books.  This month’s include an OUP geography, one on ‘rocks and minerals’ and a general science book.

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