Alamy's 100% royalties
Alamy’s student initiative is now one year old. The scheme gives students the opportunity to submit work to Alamy stock library and get 100% royalties on the sales of their images. The OCA was one of the first institutions to take part; we announced the collaboration at the beginning of the year. To mark the first year of the scheme Alamy has prepared a dedicated gallery with samples of images submitted by students of participating educational institutions.
Looking at the photographs in the gallery I can’t help thinking how the stock market has changed in the 20 years since I submitted my first images to a stock library. The repeated sales that one of the them in particular generated still puzzle me. A photograph of the midnight sun taken in Lapland sold many, many times, on a worldwide basis. Interestingly, the photograph had to be digitally manipulated to remove some unwanted reflections created by a Cokin filter. This is 1993 we are talking about. The person who scanned and cleaned my image did it the utmost secrecy…something to do with a software called ‘photoshop’ he said…I didn’t pay much attention to be honest; I was happy shooting with my Nikon FM2 loaded with Fuji Velvia…
It’s a completely different ballgame now. I doubt that my photograph of the midnight sun would generate substantial sales these days; it would not even pass QC in the first place – the photoshop job was, how would I put it, amateurish. A quick look at the list of picture libraries on the BAPLA website reveals how the stock market has grown and evolved. Big players such as Corbis and Getty Images are like the black holes of the picture library universe. They seem to swallow vast numbers of quality images that fall within their gravitational field – Getty reputedly has over 80 million images in stock.
The rise of the microstock market is one of the side-effects of an industry now totally reliant on the web. Democratisation of contributions and royalty free packages are, for many, professional photographers’ worst nightware. BJP recently published an interesting article touching on this issue.
Surviving amongst the megastock libraries and the microstock players there are still a number of successful specialist libraries run by determined individual photographers. ArcticPhoto, owned by Brian and Cherry Alexander, is one of them. Mind you, they have been freezing their socks off with a camera in their hands for more than 40 years.
No matter how saturated the stock market may seem, new picture libraries keep being launched in what seems to be an attempt to get a bit of the cake that large, well-established libraries are continually enjoying. PDN keeps a finger on the pulse of the stock industry and publishes a yearly issue that always reveals interesting new trends.
The apparent saturation of images and high number of stock libraries may give the idea that making any decent money from stock is difficult, if not impossible. Yes, it’s not easy, by any means. But there is money to be made out there. Check Alamy’s student gallery, for example. Choose an image and select a few buying options. You might be surprised, even shocked, at the prices quoted. The bottom line is that the right image, sold to the right client for the right use, can generate attractive sales figures, particularly in advertising.
However, you would mistaken if you thought that for that to happen all you have to do is send your surplus imagery hoping that, one day, you will win the stock lottery – as I did with my midnight sun photograph. Chances are it won’t work now. Successful stock images have to be not just technically flawless and eye-catching but also need to denote a dedicated and methodical photographic approach. In other words, you need to do your research and shoot for stock. A selection of prominent contributors to Alamy share some tips of how to succeed in the stock market; have a read, there is more to it than taking good photographs.