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Hello all,
Well, I've been threatening this for some time and now's the time to bite the bullet.  Would any kind souls who care to, (unkind souls also welcome :)), please review my (small, but growing) portfolio here on Alamy and provide any constructive feedback that you care to.

Shame that Alamy has chosen this time to change the forum, coinciding with my request, as there are many contributors to the the old forum whose input I would have valued, but who have now decided to not to continue under the new system.  Anyhow, I know that many of you here are able to provide helpful feedback and it would be much appreciated.  Please do not be put off if you are new here or have a small portfolio, I value any comments put constructively.

At present I have ~650 images online; views are increasing rapidly; zooms are low, but slowly getting better (current rolling month ctr is 0.44); sales are zero.  My uploads have been varied, adding images from previous shoots already uploaded as I begin to modify my understanding of what is actually required of a stock photograph (according to what you see: am I right?).
I have read previous forum threads asking for feedback and am doing my best on certain issues: I am trying to avoid grey/white skies where possible; I am trying to get people into my images where appropriate; some of my processing has not been good enough (too dark/not punchy enough - certain images have been/are being re-done with the intention of deleting and re-submitting); I don't think that I submit too many similars and I am increasing my quantity of both shooting and uploads (though I am just not able to commit to Jeff G's principle of xxx new images per day - nice idea, but just not practical or possible for me right now!).  I have been adjusting my keywording, as It seems that I was over-ambitious at first.  I am now of the firm opinion that KISS is best.  I review 'Your images' in My Alamy on a regular basis and adjust keywords/captions/locations where appropriate - especially where I find examples of false positives.
I have been adding images to the news feed, but the issues I have so far covered have, in the main, been small-scale local events or have not been required (maybe not interesting enough as news or images?) or have been in too much competition with others (I'm listening Kieth!): think big dump of snow in January (UK) / Blockbuster administration).  Though I was disappointed that none of my unexplained death images were taken up anywhere (currently on page 2 of my Alamy port.: I believe that the local BBC Website used a still from a video - ongoing trend?!)

I have very limited equipment available to me (among other things, this limits my maximum file size to 28.8 MB - is this an issue?) and just cannot justify investing in anything unless I see some kind of return, however small, which will give me some encouragement.
So, in my mind, I am reduced to (either/or/and): quality (go on - I can take it - I think!); quantity of photos up for license; subject matter; time (waiting game?).  Anything I've missed?

For clarification. In my Profile here you will see:

  • Joined Alamy 31 Oct 2007 (if I knew then what I know now!!!!)

I signed up to the site then, but only submitted my first 4 photos and was accepted as a contributor at the end of April 2011.  I then began to upload photos as a contributor a year later, May 2012, so have effectively only been submitting for a year.  Phew!  Personal reasons abound, so please do try not to judge regarding my lack of enthusiasm, I am now doing the best I can given personal circumstances (which ain't gonna be raised here :)) - thanks!
I'm now going to have a nice cuppa and give myself a pat on the back for tener cojones, if nothing else! :D
Over to you...

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Thumbs-up from me. A good selection of (mostly) saleable pix, I'd say. The main issue is that 600-odd just doesn't bring in much of an income. You need a bigger folio.


Just one suggestion: I don't get much impression of what really 'turns you on' in photography. Maybe find an interesting - and under-represented - subject/genre to explore...

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Unless you can corner the market in a niche subject you are doing the right thing - you have a good eclectic mix and many saleable subjects - as John says you need more - it is a numbers game. One observation that I would make on your news coverage - you need to create more impact - when you submit a set make sure that there is a close-up - not just a set taken from the same distance - you need a general view, a couple of 'story telling' images and a close-up to draw a picture editor's eye in.


Keep it up and relax - look at the way that KM covers provincial news stories - every angle, no (or few) similars and a variety of viewpoints - as in many fields it is not the camera or equipment - it is what you do with it.


28.8mb gets you into Alamy - and most images used do not exceed this requirement.  Good luck !

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I would also add that you seem to have half a dozen or so fairly similar shots of of each subject. I'm not saying this is a bad thing in itself but it further dilutes the range that 650 can cover. I think you would need several thousand before the collection begins to bear fruit in any meaningful way.

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nice set; my one observation would be that some of your newsy images are looking a bit too posed / set up.......good for local papers but not really the style that works on the nationals. Try to ease off and get more of a reportage feel.....and yes, try to make a set/narrative of images...wides/close ups/landscape/portrait/and a couple of obliques...

oh, and make sure the captions are a better match for the content of the actual image, rather than being a general description of the situation...if possible!




this image D6XEJW, for example, could be a lot more powerful if we could see some of the potholes that the woman in the scooter was complaing about, or at the very least you had the fellow in the image actually listening to her (as you've captioned it) rather than standing grinning at the camera.......think of what the story is and make sure the image actually tells it.....



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KM's advice is excellent. As a further example, in your bank opening "news" shots, all the bank reps have no customers interested in what the new branch has to offer - just open your mouth and ask - a visitor sitting at the service desk so the rep doesn't look like she's just surfing the web; same with the new and exciting change-counting machine - a kid holding a big bottle of pennies would have added so much more to the shot.


And you don't need better equipment. I'm still using my old Pentax 10 mp K10D...and making sales.



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Danny, your eye works fine, and your technique is mostly good (I do see some pointlessly underexposed images, but not that many). No sales at all? That is a shocker. 


Try asking yourself (aloud at first) what is the subject and the point of this picture? And try to come up with a second subject other than walking around your town. Do you have any landmarks near you? Shoot them, for godsakes! I think too many present-day stock shooters favor backstreets over obvious cliché subjects because they feel they have been totally covered by others. Get in the mix—go shoulder to shoulder with those others. I plan to shoot 100 different images of the Empire State Building this summer.


Good luck. I hope you make a big sale soon.  :)

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Ditto from me. Just from the first page, I like this as it shows a good sense of scale and shapes:




But may I say that with D6XEJW above - apart from the previous comment, the problem I also have is with the background - it's very messy. I just don't want to see two blokes chatting in sharp focus in between the foreground subjects. Backgrounds are so important.  


I hasten to add that I don't see this issue in others so I hope that's constructive. 

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Hang on in there, keep uploading, I try and have in the back of my mind when shooting and uploading, and keywording, "what could this picture be used for?" What does it illustrate? The climbing wall picture above is more than just "kids climbing on an indoor wall", it could be used used in a text book to illustrate gravity, or kinetic energy being turned in potential energy in science or a physics context, or to illustrate climbing the education ladder, or growing up, or economic recovery etc etc. Keep the keywords concise and remember plurals like wall and walls, rope and ropes.




I like the shot above, its nice and colorful (don't forget american spellings, color, colour etc etc) and got an eye-catching composition, I don't know what words you've got in it, but I'd go for something like, wheelbarrow, wheelbarrows, wheel, barrow, barrows, gardening, garden, center, centers, backache, back, ache, aches, backaches, breaking, work. I'm guessing from your caption its currently got references to heathrow, RHS etc etc, in the keywords, which would tie it down to a very very specific story, and not really what some one is looking for if they searched for heathrow.


I'm sure you'll sell something soon.

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Sometimes I hesitate to give advice because I consider myself one of the less experienced photographers here but I have had sales on fewer images than you have and I am in a difficult specialty so I am going to tell you what I would do. I suspect you are not doing your keywording thoroughly -- with plurals and ideas like "family" or "father". I sometimes go on sites like Getty to look at the keywords they use for subjects I have. I like your images and I suspect they are more saleable than mine are. If you look in Measures for "All of Alamy" you can get an idea of what kinds of search words people are using. I check my images in Measures almost every day to see if I have inappropriate views. I take out or add keywords to improve my visibility. I realize it is possible to go too far but if someone searches for "lion" I am behind tens of thousands of images. If they search "lion walking Kenya" my images have a chance of coming up in early pages.



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WOW - I knew you wouldn't let me down: what a great selection of advice.  Thank you all so much - terrifically helpful.


If I may respond to some of the comments in one go:


  • John
  1. You need a bigger folio: yup, I agree and I shall work on it just as much as I am able
  2. I don't get much impression of what really 'turns you on' in photography: The problem is that what I really enjoyed most was 'travel' photography, particularly people: see below for examples.  I've got tonnes of the stuff, but all on KR64 (showing my age here!)  Travel for me is difficult these days.  I know that perhaps I should try to look at my own backyard as a tourist, but I've always found that difficult - more effort needed.



  • DavidC

  1. Create more impact with news coverage/try different angles: Yes, you're right.  I'm very new to news and only began with my first upload to Alamy LiveNews in November, so I'm learning - slooowly!  I do find myself feeling pressurised and not responding well to that, so I have to think more carefully and remember my days in the cubs, eh? ("be prepared")
  • Inchiquin

  1. fairly similar shots of each subject:  I'll try to keep them down, thanks
  • RedSnapper

  1. newsy images are looking a bit too posed / set up:  Now that you point it out, I can see that.  Inexperience here, I suppose.  Unsure about what exactly a news photo should be and so have just grabbed people and posed them without thinking too clearly about what I am doing; why; and how it relates to the story.
  2. make sure the captions are a better match for the content: Probably rushing too much to get the pictures up in good time.  Again, not thinking clearly.  Pressure, pressure - maybe news just isn't my thing...!
  • OneWay
  1. involve people in the news shots: Again, you're right.  I went to Heathrow and got some pictures of Santa and his elf at Christmas.  This is one of my efforts:



Another Alamy tog was there (I didn't know at the time) and he did soooo much better than me:




Aside from my rushed processing in the first image, resulting in a naff, underexposed, lifeless picture. I can clearly see the difference in saleability and it exemplifies your comments about involving people.  Although these too are clearly posed, I know which I would rather buy and it ain't mine!


  • Ed Rooney
  1. what is the subject and the point of this picture:  Gotcha - I will try to think more carefully about what I'm doing and why.
  2. come up with a second subject other than walking around your town:  Good advice which I shall follow, thanks.
  • Richard Baker

  1. Backgrounds are so important: very valid point and taken on board.  This goes back to me being under pressure to get something quickly and not thinking clearly and being in control of what is going on.  Though to be honest, I probably put the pressure on myself, so there's only one person to blame!
  • York Photographer
  1. "what could this picture be used for?" What does it illustrate?: Yup, raised by others and you're right.  More thinking before pressing the shutter - or at least before submitting as a stock image.
  2. Keywords: Gawd, the bane of my life!  Will try to learn to relate point one to point two and apply/adjust keywords appropriately.
  • NYCat
  1. keywording: There we go again.  I am sure that my inexperience in keywording for this market has had a negative effect and will continue to address this most tricky of subjects.  Thanks for your advice.

Well, it took me long enough to get around to it, but I am truly glad to have sought your advice and am grateful for it all.  Thank you all again: stars the lot of you, reputation points all round! :) [Oops, now I've said that I'm gonna have to do it - though I'd far rather have them ditched].   I know that I have only responded to some of your comments, but I have taken them all on board and hope to improve upon future submissions with positive results so that I can at last post in the 'How was your ***[insert month here]' thread.  Then I can finally start to gripe about low fees like a true pro! :D

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Hi Danny. I didn't offer any advice as my experience is so much below that of others that I knew would respond and give you the very good advice that you got.


But I do want to thank you for your very kind and considered comments to all those that offered advice. It's so nice to see someone who shows such appreciation for those that took the trouble to help you.


I'm not suggesting that others do not appreciate the help they get here, most do. It's just that I can't recall anybody before who has gone into such detail when thanking others.


All the best



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Interesting response, actually because I don't like the posed Santa pix at all - they have a use, but they are not observational they are set up in newspaper fashion, and that tends to work very well short term but not longer term. Your Santa picture is not better, because it's not got exactly the elements which would make the lone Santa in the (much more obviously) airport enviroment a long-term seller. However, a solo Santa in that environment, even looking small and from the back, could be a survivor where the happy press shot is not.


I've only looked at the first page and felt I can identify one issue you need to address. Signs matter - words matter. The 'wish fence' for example is obscure to the viewer, if there had beena  sign on in saying exactly that, it would have worked well. The Sustrans guy is next to a sign with loads of words but the absolutely vital bit - what the sign is about - is cut off because you presumably wanted cyclists in the distance. The Sustrans guy could and should have had a bike, even borrowed as a prop. I see many similar cases, you've got the right subject but you have not created an immediately visible narrative or a visual 'headline'. You wouldn't buy a newspaper on impulse unless you saw a clear headline which grabbed you. Same with a stock image; the purpose and 'story' (if there is one) need to be a headline.


Another example, you have a click and collect entrance to supermarket; one shot empty no people; one shot with a static car. That shot absolutely needed to be a 'transitive' image not a 'passive' one - it needed someone in shot, with trolley, leaving door towards car ideally with second person holding tailgate open (or whatever). Alamy use the journalist's who, what, where, when, why advice for captions/titles. A photograph of the type you are aiming for needs to have the same elements visually coded; sometimes, a sign or notice even on its own as a subject (which you have tried) will succeed.


Some of your shots like the climbing wall with the sign in the foreground warning about the grips show you are aware of how to make this work, but not enough of the shots have the same clarity of purpose. You have to forget that YOU know what you were shooting, and see the image from the buyer and the final reader's point of view.



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Actually, I've been looking at the Santa pix again. Yours is better. It could work in an exhibition. The two you have quoted are PR pix and show it. They would make any publications look like a PR story had been successfully placed - no doubt exactly how they started, and very good work for that use. But your image is well composed, simple, and has an element of understated humour and incongruity. Don't delete it!



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  1. fairly similar shots of each subject:  I'll try to keep them down, thanks


You don't necessarily need to keep them down. My point was not that there were too many, but that your small number of images represents an even smaller number of subjects.



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Hi again,
Ken: Please don't demean your own abilities ("my experience is so much below that of others"): you've got plenty of good stock up online (I just took a look!).  If I ever When I seek advice again, then I shall certainly look to your input among others. Thanks for your kind comments: I've always preferred to walk on the sunny side of the street, it's just a nicer place to be :) !


David: A whole bunch of very useful comments, thank you.  If I try to think of my reasoning behind my preference for the other Santa pictures, it probably has two sources:

  1. They seem brighter, punchier, more dynamic, more 'attention-grabing', full of life & happier!
  2. My own insecurity!!!

Again, my inexperience in this particular field is probably showing, because I'm still not looking at the image with a professional-enough eye, i.e. with the market in mind.  I'm sure that I'll get myself trained up over the next few months, but I shall have to re-refer to thread often for reference in order to keep me on the right track!


On your advice, I won't ditch Santa (anyway, my kids would never forgive me!) but I will make him jump out of the picture a little more and then swap the image over.


Alan:Thanks for clarifying, I'm grateful to you.


All comments by everyone now taken on board and logged!


OK, quite enough of me - onward and upward.

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I like your Father Christmas picture more than the cheesy ones (nothing wrong with cheese if it sells!), I could see yours selling to illustrate Christmas flight delays/ traveling at Christmas etc etc.


Nothing wrong with taking lots of photos and then dismissing them, at least it doesn't cost film and processing expenses to decide that the pictures probably not got a salable use

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losdemas, I enjoyed your portfolio, and noticed you often take range of shots - closeup, wide, from different vantage points..., which is great.


1 - RedSnapper touched on a point that struck me, too - about news photos with posed look.


When I'm covering news, and subject notices I'm taking photo and automatically/unconsciously goes into 'stare at the camera and smile" mode -  and it's not event such as parade where I have a few seconds to catch any particular shot - when possible:

  • I look/go off to another direction for a bit

or, if necessary, lightly say something along lines of:

  • "Oh, I didn't mean to distract you from your conversation"  vvvv
  • "Oh, don't let me interrupt what you're doing"
  • (if all else fails) "Oh, please just ignore me"

...... and wait to take photo once they resume doing what they had been doing.


2 - David Kilpatrick brought up one of the most useful tips for news images - include SIGNS, words.

(When I mentor student photogs, this tip is right after "Get people's Names & Town, & spell them correctly.")


CM2FR8 Debate2012 -- CMGNE3  protest -- D1BW65 Kiwanis -- CA0RAM State of County -- C902KN protest:



- ann

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What a great thread, With lots of useful information .. especially as I am in a similar boat.


I submitted my original 4 images about a year ago and sadly didn't get any more uploaded until about 4 months ago (ish) as I was still at the time uploading to RF libraries, but just after christmas I thought I would change my game plan and start to upload to Alamy ( I am aware that I have a long way to go in numbers and working out what is good content and whats not, but it is being a good learning curve on the way)


But it was really good to see losdemas getting helpful and useful information from those that know. I will be following these threads a lot closer now..


Thanks, Steve.

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