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|
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.
|© 2011 Ann Parry, All rights reserved - Going Up Escalator at 30 Rockefeller Center|
Info for Contributors:
- 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
- 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.
To see more of my RM/RF Licensed Images: Ann Parry
Please feel free to leave a Comment below. Smiles - Ann