I’m a subscriber to a stock image library called Alamy Images. A stock library is a source of images for book publishers, website designers, magazines, newspapers, in fact anyone who needs images for their publications. Alamy is a large stock library, and it now has over 21 million (!) images for sale. The deal is simple: I take the images. I upload the images to Alamy. Someone searches for and then buys an image. They pay Alamy and use the image. Alamy take a commission and pays me the balance.
So what is it that people buy?
This image is my best-seller. It’s of a whirling hygrometer that’s used to measure the humidity of the air. It was great fun taking the image whilst holding the camera one-handed and whirling the hygrometer with the other. Not usually a good recipe for a sharp image! It’s been used in various textbooks in a number of countries round the world.
This image was my first ever sale on Alamy. It’s of some fly tipping just off the A420 near Swindon in Wiltshire. I was passing, and as always was carrying a camera. I stopped and took some shots. It’s not exactly very pretty, and it’s not a very creative image, but earned me a $250 sale, so I wasn’t complaining! This is a really good example of something that most people would walk past producing a saleable image.
This image, of the Sage Arts Centre in Gateshead, has also sold several times. I was on my way to a friend’s wedding in Scotland, and stopped off in Newcastle overnight. The weather the next day was great so I wandered around taking some stock images. This image was taken from the Newcastle side of the River Tyne, and it’s probably so successful because it’s a very simple clear image of a landmark building in sunny weather.
This is another wedding-related image. It’s of “Kit’s Coty” which is a Neolithic chambered long barrow near the Medway valley in Kent. It was taken whilst I was photographing a wedding reception in an appropriately named venue nearby. The blue colour comes from the use of a blue filter in front of the flash. The flash was on the ground just inside the railings and was fired remotely. This shot was used in a Halloween-related publication in October 2010. They clearly liked the spooky blueness.
This image is my most recent sale, I only found out about it today! It’s of the wind farm at Westmill near Watchfield, in Oxfordshire. It took most of a day to find the best place to take the shot. On another day, with the wind and light in different directions, somewhere else would be the best place. The image was used in a UK national newspaper this week (11th/12th Jan 2011). With Alamy you aren’t told where your images have been used, just that a sale has been made. If you are lucky someone sees it, and posts a report on the Alamy forum. So if you’ve seen it please let me know!
I’ve just had another batch of images accepted by Alamy’s Quality Control department, so I now need to do the keywording that will enable the images to be found, and then hopefully be bought. The great thing about stock libraries like Alamy is that you can earn money while you are sleeping!