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In my short time here, i've read most of the forum posts, and dug into the pics of those who make a lot of sense. There's a quiet few that probably make a fair amount, and don't really publicise it. 

 

My take on it is that, you could have 100-500 really saleable pictures, that have been keyworded professionally, or 5000-8000 pictures of lamp posts, postboxes, houses, and boats, and have very minimal keywording. I reckon that the 100-500 images will sell more and more regularly than the 5000-8000. 

 

The key factor is (for me) is the ability to take those saleable images. I find that a more personal battle against life itself than the amount of images I have. 

 

I'm not being negative to those who have pics of lamp posts, postboxes, etc etc. My portfolio is full of odd pics. While there is a buyer somewhere for it, it's not going to sell regularly. 

 

I actually find it difficult to think like the buyer, and probably lack real imagination to be successful at this, but that's where I think the wars are won. 

 

Just my opinion of course :) 

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I must differ with those posters that believe it's mostly about shooting salable images and great keywording. At edited agencies this is definitely the case, but at Alamy ranking is just as or even more important. Let's use one example. A fairly new shooter with an average rank goes to Peru and shoots some fantastic Machu Picchu images. I mean really outstanding images. He/she uploads 50 to Alamy and is given a median ranking (or slightly better). Now a search for Machu Picchu gives you about 7500 images or 60 pages at 120 images per page. That means with a median or better ranking the images will start to show up say on page 30 or even page 20 (for a better than average ranking). Now how many of those outstanding images will a buyer actually see? How many buyers go to page 20 of a search?

 

Now the same search on Getty or Corbis returns less than 2000 or about 15 pages at 120 per page. If those outstanding images were in any of those agencies what are the chances that a buyer would see them? Better or worse?

 

Now look at the searches in "All Of Alamy" and note the sophistication of most searches. Most use three or less words. Of course if buyers started using five or six word searches then keywording may overcome the ranking and those with most of the words used in the search will gravitate to the higher pages. Allow more sophisticated searches like annotated phrases and the keywording becomes even more significant. But that's just not presently the case.

 

There is no doubt that having accurate and good keywords will eventually more you up the ranks, but how many years will it take? How many reranks? And each year another 4 million images get uploaded. By the time that poor Machu Picchu shooter improves his/her rank there will be 15,000 images in the search.

 

So let's not talk only about keywording, business ethic, or saleability less we forget about the elephant in the corner.

 

Of course stock should be treated like a business, but that applies to ALL aspects of stock including agency practices. It's easy for someone that has been with Alamy for 10 or 15 years to point to great keywording and salable images, but for anyone joining Alamy in the last five years it's more about quantity and variety. I see some great shots by newbie contributors (that have posted here) that I'm afraid will never see the light of day. That's too bad because the present system doesn't effectively reward shooters, new or old, that do treat stock as a business and do shoot salable images and have great keywording. Despite doing all the right stuff they are still victims of the rank.

 

Perhaps Alamy has recognized this already by putting things in place like creative selections, RF ratios, etc., that will move these shooters up the ranking. But unless Alamy does some major kind of editing/selection the really enthusiastic new shooters and some of the old veterans will eventually migrate to greener pastures.

Edited by MichaelD

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It seems like very few contributers will tightly edit their portfolio to only include 500 top producing images that produce multiple weekly sales. It's more likely they will have 500 top producing images interspersed with 5000 less desirable images that produce a couple sales a month.  I guess my question would be what's the problem with retaining both levels of imagery in a portfolio?  As long as the images are producing at least some sales I see no benefit to culling them out. If the CTR and ranking for the 10% of top producing images is negatively impacted by the remainder then wouldn't it make sense to simply utilize two different pseudonyms? 

 

MichaelD paints a grim picture for new contributors that sadly rings true.  We can look forward to ever increasing competition and dropping prices in the years to come.  The need to produce large portfolios, keyword well and create compelling images all seem crucial if I want to prosper. 

 

Another thought, wouldn't most purchasers that perform frequent image searches eventually hone their search skills to include more tags in their searches to more quickly find the images they want?  Looking at the searches where my images have been viewed, about half of them had 1 or 2 words while 4 or 5 word searches were not uncommon.

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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I may paint a grim picture, but I base that picture on the present system/situation. If we implement a few positive changes to the system then we'll get a much different picture. How about a program to educate buyers to use more tags when searching, implement/refine new search methods (like annotated phrases, singles/plurals, American/British spelling, etc.) that indirectly force all contributors to improve their keywording, reduce similars by stringently enforcing submissions, implement a program to entice contributors to purge their non-productive/similar images (perhaps anyone trimming their collection by 10% within six months will get a higher rank or a higher percentage split for a year), implement some form of edit/scrutiny on the initial submission of new contributors (maybe place new contributors on probation for one year to see if they can cut it), improve the contributor instructions/information to reasonably prepare new contributors for what's in store (tamp down expectations, talk about ROI versus collection size, etc. and tamp down on the sales hype), more help for contributors with keywording (like the limited time offer of free keywording), etc. I'm sure there are other positive ideas floating around that would help to change our direction.

 

The future is about working smarter not harder. Presently the professional togs are working twice as hard for half the $$ because the whole system is out of whack. We need to get the entire system, buyers, contributors and the agency all working in the same direction. Let's not worry so much about image pricing and commision because that train has already left the station. Instead, worry about the growth of the library. 100 million images is just around the corner and buyers will face 150,000 image search results (since we can't expect buyers to make ten-word searches no amount of keywording will help). At some point the present system will crash. It's not a matter of if, but when. I still feel that all of us can make the necessary changes so the system works better for all of us.

 

With the results I'm getting from my other agencies, I firmly believe that reducing the growth of the library is the key to a better future for ALL of us. I'm sure that a very small percentage of images account for most Alamy sales. Keeping 15 or 20 million extra images on file just in case isn't helping the company, the buyers or the contributors. With that in mind (and my rank) I recently trimmed about 200 images from my collection. I hope to trim another 1000 by October and an additional 1000 before the end of the year. If every contributor trimmed images that have never sold or been clicked on in the last two years we could probably reduce the library by 5 million images. And by tightly editing what we submit and deleting non-productive images we will not only raise our rank, we'll help reduce the growth of the library.

 

So yes I may paint a grim picture today, but I am optimistic that all parties will eventually help change our direction.

Edited by MichaelD
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MichaelD, I don't have your experience or portfolio size but share your views.

Quite bluntly, there is way too much crap on Alamy that should never have been accepted. Buyers (who probably don't have time to wade through thousands of Uncle Tom's holiday snaps) are likely to go elsewhere if the don't find what they want in the first 5 or 10 pages. If there weren't so many snapshots and similars they'd have a far better chance of finding what they want. After doing many searches myself to see what is already available on any given topic I can see how Alamy's incredible quantity rather than quality policy will increasingly become a burden.

I am currently re-keywording everything I have uploaded because I don't think I did a very good job the first time around. I wish I could also delete quite a few too, but they haven't been up long enough. I don't upload many similars but some make me wince every time they come up in searches.

I like the idea of help with keywording and tougher QC. Hell, I am embarrassed to admit it but I accidently uploaded 20 shots with watermarks on them straight out of Lightroom and they got through QC. Yep! I noticed them when I started keyworking and deleted them. 

I think they should pay some editors to go through and cull the crap from the Alamy collection, which would do us all a favour. Since I made the suggestion I am happy if they start by de-crapping my stuff and I will take my medicine.  :-) 

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Ray you seem to have a grip on the situation. I too have contributed to the problem and I am starting to trim my collection. But the problem is that most contributors wouldn't know a salable image if it hit them in the face. I'm sure the serious full-time shooters do but even they (myself included0 have uploaded stuff that shouldn't be there. The emphasis on the number of images runs deep in the mindset of Alamy and most of the contributors. I can see those "if I can only increase the size of my collection" gears turning at all levels within the system. Heck I'm not immune either.

 

If staff or contributors aren't going to voluntarily cut images from the library then at least let's partition them into separate tiers. Then we can deal with each tier separately. The important thing is to get more salable images returned on any given search so buyers won't get pissed off. I think the present creative system is an attempt to do that, but it needs further work. I think if we divide most of the images in the library into tiers it will force contributors to trim their collections and submit more tightly edited future submissions. I think it will be self-policing. The staff can use the same criteria that they present use for creative images.

 

At the same time we need to truly enforce ALL the rules for new submissions. We can't continue to rubber stamp submissions based strickly on having no digital flaws. We must start to rank submissions on their saleability/creativity as they are submitted. Ranking entire submissions not individual images will promote better tighter submissions. The tier system could start immediately.  But there are tons of other ideas floating around and maybe Alamy should give a few of them more serious thought.

Edited by MichaelD

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At the same time we need to truly enforce ALL the rules for new submissions. We can't continue to rubber stamp submissions based strickly on having no digital flaws. We must start to rank submissions on their saleability/creativity as they are submitted.

 

Erm... we?

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At the same time we need to truly enforce ALL the rules for new submissions. We can't continue to rubber stamp submissions based strickly on having no digital flaws. We must start to rank submissions on their saleability/creativity as they are submitted. Ranking entire submissions not individual images will promote better tighter submissions. The tier system could start immediately.  But there are tons of other ideas floating around and maybe Alamy should give a few of them more serious thought.

 

I sincerely believe this is a good idea. I was snapping about at a BBQ on Sunday. There was folk drinking and some good photo opportunities to be had. The kind of stuff Alamy has. I then turned to the Gazebo that was empty and took the shot. I said to myself, "I'll get that on Alamy"

 

I uploaded the pic to my computer and processed it as normal in DPP. Echoes of forums posts suddenly came into my head, and I thought, what the hell is the point in me uploaded a picture of a gazebo to Alamy? Why would anyone buy that? 

 

So I didn't upload it. However, and this is the crucial point. I took the pic because I knew it would be accepted anyway and that it was adding to my count. 

 

Before Alamy I tried iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia, and Alamy. Everyone but Alamy rejected my images because they were not saleable, poorly composed, under/overexposed or no focal point. Alamy accepted them. While I was happy, it left me with such a sincere feeling of dread. I have hopefully gotten better, but if I'm always being accepted then how will I know? 

Edited by Paulstw

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I agree in principle with culling out the images that have no chance of selling but fear the tiered ranking system will serve only to keep newer contributors at the bottom of searches and off the sales page.  This has been the result on another site where I contribute that favors contributors with more sales over those with none. 

 

I know I don't want to waste time and effort uploading images that have no chance of selling and I doubt anyone else enjoys it either.  To avoid uploading unsuitable images I checked out established sellers first to see what kinds of images they are uploading.  As others have noted there are lots of postal boxes and boring images on Alamy, even among major contributors.  Although it’s easy to blame the newcomers for Alamy’s collection bloat, I doubt my 300 images are the issue.  Even if 80% of my images will never sell, that’s still only 240 duds.  If someone with 15,000 images has only 10% that should be culled, that would be 1,500 images!

 

The established sellers here have a great deal of combined wisdom and sales data.  Perhaps post examples of images from your own collections that really aren't selling or getting zooms and discuss the reasons you think they don’t.  Or if it makes you more comfortable, post those that sell best.  I certainly would be appreciative. I will listen and adjust my submissions in the future.

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I don't want to waste time and effort uploading images that have no chance of selling

 

This is by no means a rhetorical question... but how could you know which pictures won't sell (or, conversely, which pix will)?

 

I take note of my sales, in choosing which subjects might be worth shooting. But, even after amassing 7,000+ pix here, I really can't guess which of my pix will sell next. A lot of my favourite pix haven't sold at all, while a few pix have sold many times.

 

In short, if I was to cull my Alamy collection, I might be deleting pix which could sell next week. I wouldn't know where to start...

Edited by John Morrison

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I don't want to waste time and effort uploading images that have no chance of selling

 

This is by no means a rhetorical question... but how could you know which pictures won't sell (or, conversely, which pix will)?

 

I take note of my sales, in choosing which subjects might be worth shooting. But, even after amassing 7,000+ pix here, I really can't guess which of my pix will sell next. A lot of my favourite pix haven't sold at all, while a few pix have sold many times.

 

In short, if I was to cull my Alamy collection, I might be deleting pix which could sell next week. I wouldn't know where to start...

 

The only, and best qualified people to know what will sell out there are the buyers. We will never know them, we will never meet them, we will never know their thoughts, aspirations, wishes. So, as John points out, every cull is what WE think may not sell - and not what the customer thinks. THEY are the judges, they are the buyers, NOT US! THAT is what we must never lose sight of (he said rising majestically to a crescenda and ending the sentence with a preposition).

:)

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Guys, that's exactly the problem. As a new contributor I can only look at recent sales and at the portfolios of established members for guidance. However there are a number of posts in a couple threads urging a tiered system and implementation of reviews for content. I don't support a tiered system but I do support self-policing for two many similars, poor framing, etc. IF there is a problem with with the size of the Alamy collection and IF it is due to too many images that will never sell as some suggest, it appears to me to be a problem for most contributors both new and old.

I've received some good advice in the last few days. I intend to adjust what I shoot and my keywording to improve my sales.

I will say that the sales I've made on my other site were surprising and clearly not what I consider to be my best images so I would be hesitant to deeply cull my submissions here on Alamy.

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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I don't want to waste time and effort uploading images that have no chance of selling

 

This is by no means a rhetorical question... but how could you know which pictures won't sell (or, conversely, which pix will)?

 

I take note of my sales, in choosing which subjects might be worth shooting. But, even after amassing 7,000+ pix here, I really can't guess which of my pix will sell next. A lot of my favourite pix haven't sold at all, while a few pix have sold many times.

 

In short, if I was to cull my Alamy collection, I might be deleting pix which could sell next week. I wouldn't know where to start...

 

The only, and best qualified people to know what will sell out there are the buyers. We will never know them, we will never meet them, we will never know their thoughts, aspirations, wishes. So, as John points out, every cull is what WE think may not sell - and not what the customer thinks. THEY are the judges, they are the buyers, NOT US! THAT is what we must never lose sight of (he said rising majestically to a crescenda and ending the sentence with a preposition).

:)

The buyers know or think they know what they want. If they are professional in their searches then the will be more precise in their keywords. As contributors we need to accommodate by keywording precisely and not using too many inappropriate or ambiguous words. I upload pretty much everything I feel may sell but not similars. After 18 to 24 months I relegate all images which haven't been zoomed or sold to my dump pseudo. This helps keep my main pseudos higher in the ranking but still keeps my non active images available. It never ceases to amaze me how many images sell after 2 or 3 years of zero activity. IMO yes, you can put yourself in a better position by doing all the right things but at the end of the day we can only guess at what the buyer wants in the future and whether your image fits the bill.

 

dov 

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I don't want to waste time and effort uploading images that have no chance of selling

 

This is by no means a rhetorical question... but how could you know which pictures won't sell (or, conversely, which pix will)?

 

I take note of my sales, in choosing which subjects might be worth shooting. But, even after amassing 7,000+ pix here, I really can't guess which of my pix will sell next. A lot of my favourite pix haven't sold at all, while a few pix have sold many times

An answer to that may be to specialize. The sales data would than be much easier to analyze and that can used to drive future shots. It looks like some prefer to stay generalist and some of them are successful in doing so. However, is there a correlation between "anything sells", "what should I be shooting?" and being a generalist?

 

GI

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