Monday, March 7, 2011

Meeting Alamy CEO James West in Brooklyn

By Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)

Tuesday, I took the F train to Brooklyn to attend Alamy CEO James West’s meeting with a few dozen photographers at the stock agency’s Jay Street office, where we had a presentation and Q&A about Alamy’s past, present, and its plans for the future. We seemed a diverse group with a wide range of portfolio sizes and experience in stock photography.


© 2011 Ann Parry, All rights reserved - St. Patrick's Day, NYC



















Background

Two or three years ago, I joined Alamy as a contributor, not only because its nonexclusive commission rates are higher than any other stock agency I know, but also because it donates the vast majority of its profits to medical research. And more recently, I learned it's committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and started donating solar powered lamps to charities in 2010.

But I didn't go to the Brooklyn meeting planning to cover it formally, since I don't consider for-profit businesses the focus of my blog.

However, the more James West shared - in a most engaging way - about Alamy, the more my respect grew for the man and the company. Plus, before and after the presentation, friendly Alamy staffers also chatted and answered questions. And though I didn't take notes, photos, videos (SIGH), here it is for you:

How Alamy Stands Out for Customers:

  • Library Size & Variety - Alamy’s encyclopedic library of over 22 million images are edited for technical quality but not content - increasing one’s chance of finding that niche, obscure, just-perfect image needed.
  • Service - Alamy provides superior customer service, including fast response time - from answering each customer call in less than 5 seconds, to providing each price quote in under 20 minutes.
 
© 2010 Ann Parry, All rights reserved - Tommy Hilfiger 5th Ave



















How Alamy Stands Out for Contributors:

  • Commissions - Though Alamy does not ask contributors for exclusivity, it pays 60% commission for sales through alamy.com, 50% for Novel Use sales, and 40% for sales through their distributors.   (briefly comparing this with photog's % at 3 big micros: ISP: 15-20% for nonexclusives and 25-45% for exclusives. SS: 25-38%. DT: 30-55% for nonexclusives, and 60% for exclusives.)
  • And James West stated that Alamy will NOT be cutting commissions, including when they open new offices. 
  • Control - Contributors may choose whether to make their files available in certain ways that earn smaller licensing fees, such as Novel Use and UK newspaper scheme. BTW, each year you have the option to opt-out of Novel Use in April.
How Alamy is Growing, Improving its Business:
  • Alamy is a UK based company with its development and operations center in India. Opening a Brooklyn office last February helped lead to significantly increased sales in the US. Next, Alamy will open an office in Germany.
  • Alamy is going to license video clips.
  • Alamy is looking into adding one or more server sites strategically located to improve connection speed to Customers currently far away from servers.
  • Alamy iPad app - rather than being a tool for direct sales, it's a free app to increase awareness of the agency, by displaying a growing, varied stream of Alamy's images.
    • James West said Alamy is working toward a lower payout threshold, which currently is at $250. This should motivate more submitters to contribute - including those from remote areas of the world that are not covered much, if at all, by stock images. Exciting!
    • Alamy may be changing how Alamy Rank works and affects search results, so that it is based on specific image rank, rather than pseudonym rank
    • Natural lifestyle photography is becoming more popular than the studio look in many regions (the flickr effect)
    • Alamy will be licensing videos. They’ll generally be short video clips (around 10-60 seconds). Keep natural lifestyle in mind for them, too.
    FAQ for New Contributors:
    • JPG File Size: Minimum uncompressed file sizes must be more than 24 MB. An example of JPG info that works: 20110301dumbo.jpg --- 3600x2400 --- 300ppi --- aRGB  ---  Photoshop Compression Level 12 (that's Maximum Quality; Level 10 and above is accepted)
    • Quality Control (QC) -  Alamy determines which files are accepted in a different way from other agencies. Briefly, all of your files waiting for QC at the same time count as one batch, even if you submitted them at different times. Don't expect each image to be checked, but if one image from that batch fails, the entire batch fails. So check images carefully at 100%, and you might want to keep batches small at first.
    • Sales: Images - Though some sell images right away, it can take a while for sales to start, and quantity is just part of the equation, so don't expect great results from lots of average, similar images of over-represented subjects. Cover neglected niche subjects...  convey concepts in new, clear ways... take pictures that effectively tell a story.
    • Sales: Keywords - Keyword your images in an accurate and thorough way, making it as easy as possible for customers to find your images that fit their needs. For example, if you have an image of a girl holding a cat, and no other person or animal is in it, including the keywords: girl, holding, cat, child, pet, happy, outdoors, Singapura cat,  friendship, young girl, pedigreed cat, closeup, domestic cat, feline, one person, one animal should be more effective than just: cat, girl, outdoors -- and please don't include the keywords: man, bites, dog   :D

    About Me:
    • Some of my favorite photo subjects are the local environment, autoimmune diseases Celiac and MS, air & space, concerts, and politics.
    • If I could keep just one of my blog posts online, it would be "If You Lose or Find a Pet." Please open your heart and home to a shelter pet.
    • Nikon
    And, yes, I'm rooting big time for Alamy, its contributors, and its customers.

    To see more of my RM/RF Licensed Images: Ann Parry

    Please feel free to leave a Comment below.    Smiles - Ann

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Stanley Drucker Concert

    By Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)

    Last Saturday, world-famous clarinetist Stanley Drucker gave a concert presented by the Merrick-Bellmore Community Concert Association at Calhoun High School. Naomi Drucker, his wife and fellow clarinetist; and Marilyn Sherman Lehman, pianist, also performed, to the added delight of the audience.

    ©2010 Ann Parry, All rights reserved - Stanley Drucker

























    While dropping off concert flyers at the Drucker home the week before the concert, I mentioned I'd like to take photos during concert night. Mrs. Drucker looked up, smiling. "Since you're a photographer," she said, "you might enjoy our photos." What an understatement - and suddenly I was on a fun and moving tour of photos, posters, and other artwork throughout their home, including guest bathroom - all which helped bring to life the professional musical careers of the Drucker family: dad Stanley and mom Naomi, classical musicians; son Leon, double bassist Lee Rocker for The Stray Cats; and daughter Rosanne Drucker, alternative country singer.

    Naomi Drucker is an enchanting wood sprite come to life, which made me look forward to the concert not only for the music, but for the chance to photograph such warm, charismatic Long Islanders.

    ©2010 Ann Parry, All rights reserved - Marilyn Sherman Lehman


























    It's quite challenging to capture concert photos of instrumentalists, where about 95% of the photo is dark costumes, grand piano, and stage curtains and the rest is face, hands, and a tuxedo shirt that all seem to be about 9-light-stops away. I used my Nikon D200 with Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens, and did my best - including 1600 ISO and exposure compensation - but I have the feeling that this was the tipping point for seriously looking into the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, so I can use my Nikon D700 for such extreme lighting situations in future.

    ©2010 Ann Parry, All rights reserved - Stanley Drucker, Naomi Drucker



















    Retired last year from his 60-year career with the New York Philharmonic, Mr. Drucker remains an active international performer. Visit MBCCA.org to find out more about the not-for-profit organization which began presenting professional concerts to Long Islanders about the same time that Mr. Drucker began his long, illustrious career.

    To see more concert photos, please visit my gallery at AnnParryPhotography.com: Stanley Drucker Concert photo gallery. RM licenses are available for editorial photos taken during this concert presented by MBCCA. Questions? My Email: ann@annParryPhotography.com

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    If You Lose or Find a Pet

    By Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)

    What do you do when you've Lost or Found a Pet?  How do you Safely check for news, spread the news, and more?

    Cat Found

    Well, a friendly white and black female cat, green eyes, about 1 year old*, strolled up to our front stoop to visit our cat Hillary, who was in a cat stroller, earlier this week. Unfortunately, this kitty found near the Merrick-Bellmore border doesn't have a collar and ID tag, so we don't know her name and address.

     
    • *Update 7/25: 'Cat Found in Merrick' is Back with Family!     (more info near end of post)
    If this white and black kitty is a member of your family, please contact us by email at [edit: contact info removed after owner found]. We will release her only to her proven owner, so emailing a photo you took of her would be a good way to help show she is your cat.

    She is very affectionate, so she is, or was, part of a loving family, which she must miss.

    Check for News - Spread the News  
    Sad but Important:  If you lose a pet, immediately tell your neighbors, and then contact all the public/town animal shelters in a wide area around you.  (For ex, I'd contact all L.I. public shelters, starting with close ones.)  Because of serious overcrowding, many shelters do NOT have a No-Kill policy, so time is very important! When we found kitty, one of the first things we did was post "Found Cat" flyers, which include her photo and basic description, in the area. These are FREE ways to spread the news, and check for news  - whether it's online posts, flyers, email, or phone calls - about a lost or found pet.: 
      To get your flyers as widespread as possible, contact shelters, vets, pet supply store, and ask if they'll let you Fax them a flyer, so they can print it out and hang it where visitors see it.
      Your Safety
      Whether you've lost or found a pet, protect your safety and guard against scams meant to get your money. If you create a separate email account to use on flyer and online ad, you can avoid posting any personal information. Make an email address that is easy for someone to remember or copy down correctly. Do not agree to pay to have your pet shipped back to you. In fact, if you lost your pet, do NOT send money in any form for any reason. Some Tips from the Petfinder.com section on avoiding would-be scammers:
      • Anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is. (Listen to your gut feeling if something seems wrong, no matter how much you want to believe it.)
      • Stay local and avoid dealing with anyone who says pet needs to be shipped
      • Avoid playing into the cruelty of false lost pet responses. Some mean, dishonest people purposely target the sad, vulnerable owners of lost pets.
      • Do not wire funds, do not use cashier's checks, do not use money orders, do not give out any banking or financial information.
      Pet ID Tags and more
      It's very important your pet wears a collar with an ID tag and/or has a pet identification tattooPet ID microchips are good extra protection, especially in case a collar with ID tag comes off, but have something visible to the unaided eye also. Kitty wasn't wearing an ID tag, so during her first visit to Merrick Veterinary Group, Dr. Allison Villa carefully ran the microchip scanner up and down her several times. Like 99% of cats, kitty is not microchiped, but it was definitely worth checking.
      Health
      If you already have pets in your family, and then find a lost pet, keep them separate until a vet tests for contagious parasites and infectious diseases (and then pet receives medical treatment, if necessary), and  finds pet safe to be in contact with other animals. Update: During kitty's second checkup at the Merrick Veterinary Group, Dr. Allison Villa gave her treatment and medicine for a problem, tested and found her negative for FIV, FeLV, de-wormed her, and gave her a Rabies shot update.
      Indoor Cat VS Outdoor Cat
      Wondering if your cat should be an indoor or outdoor cat? An indoor cat lives about 12 years, and sometimes up to 20, but an outdoor cat lives an average of only 5 years.  This information came from  Merrick Veterinary Group, the Humane Society of the United States, Cat World, and Catster:      Dangers for Outdoor Cats
              *Update 7/25/10:
              Only a small percent of lost pets are ever found by their family, but here's great news:
              We found kitty's loving family - a nearby neighbor we didn't even know had a cat, let along one so precious - and she returned home today. Her name is Patches - how cute!
              Patches looks young for her age, for she's around 8. The rest of Patches' story is interesting, even surprising, and I'll post a new blog entry about it. Also, I've updated the original title of this post - "Cat Found in Merrick" - to avoid giving anyone who's lost a cat false hope.
              Adopt a Pet
              ♥  We heard about a wonderful family who wanted to adopt "Found Cat" if her family stayed lost.  ♥ Adopt a Pet. Please open your heart and home to a shelter pet. You can click this text to go to Adopt-a-Pet.com which helps you find the animal shelters in your area. For example, I went to AdoptAPet.com and entered "Massapequa, NY" + chose a distance of "within 50 miles" + selected "Any type of pet" and it listed about 500 shelters on Long Island. ~ ~ ~ Comments:  Please leave a comment below, especially if you would like to share a story about a lost or found pet, or if you have info about pet safety or pet adoption.