I uploaded my first four test submissions on 13 January 2014. They passed the next day and I was a contributor to Alamy. So, one year in, how are things going?
Back in August 2014 I wrote a piece about my first sale - and wondered when the next one would come along. I didn't have long to wait. A second dropped in on 2 September, two more were added that month, 2 in October, 3 in November and soaring to 5 in December. None so far this month so that's a total of 14 for the first full year. It's nice to see a data graph with more than one point on it.
So, now I'm rich. Well, no. Probably never will be. But the money is a useful addition to the (rapidly approaching pension age) coffers and allows me to eye up the odd (used) lens without excessive feelings of guilt.
So, where have the sold images been used? The truth is, in most cases I don't know. All the images have been used in magazines or newspapers so far and Alamy do not say who the buyers are. Unless they can be found in a Google reverse image search or found by one of the people on the Alamy Contributor Forum it's difficult. I've found a few uses. Daily Mail, Daily Express, Observer (all UK newspapers) and Gardens Illustrated so far. But, unless they're used on web versions - and accessible to the search engines - they simply don't show up. It's a little frustrating - but something you get used to.
Though I would love to know which low circulation Taiwanese magazine used this image of Hoya carnosa.
It's one of three I uploaded from a shoot in my kitchen of a plant I grow outside in the summer, inside in the winter. Extremely low cost for production, fortunately, given that it was a distributor sale for the princely sum of $12. From which the distributor takes their 40% cut, Alamy takes half the remainder, and I'm left with $3.60 (about £2.50). Sounds a bit doomy and gloomy, doesn't it? But consider the fact that I would have been most unlikely to make any sale at all without an agency and their Taiwanese distributor to represent me and that there is nothing to stop the image being sold again for a higher price in the future. There is no shortage of Hoya carnosa images available through stock agencies so prices are bound to be low. It's simple economics. And I'm $3.60 in credit. So far.
Which brings me to newspaper sales. They are - at least the UK papers are - voracious consumers of imagery. And with big buying power comes low individual prices - especially for the web versions. But $3.07 nett for a single sale of this image of Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' is, surely, ridiculous.
Well no. This was a secondary use. The image was originally used to illustrate a gardening article in a large circulation UK newspaper. It netted me $9.80. It then netted me two further $3.07 fees for additional uses. There is at least one more use to be reported and invoiced. Given that the image has been post processed by the user and will be sitting on their servers ready to drop in to a suitable article, there could well be more uses in the future. It all adds up - and also justifies my decision to make my images Rights managed (RM). With Royalty free (RF) images you pay once and use many times. With RM you pay for each usage.
So, with 1268 images uploaded to Alamy, hundreds of dollars in sales value, images sold worldwide, and the satisfaction of knowing my work has a commercial value, I think it's a reasonable first year. Though it's worth bearing in mind two old adages.
'The best way to make a small fortune is to start with a large one.'
'The quickest way to make money in photography is to sell your camera'
2015 looks promising.