Many of you may know that in addition to my writing, I’m also a bit of a photographer. I’ve used my photos to illustrate many of my articles and some of my books. So, just like my writing, I like to exploit my photos for maximum earning potential. This is why I sell my images through the Alamy agency.

But many of the Agency’s photographers (suppliers) are up in arms, because the agency has issued a notice intending to cut the commission they pay to contributors.

Currently, for every image they sell, Alamy takes 50% of the income and the photographer gets the remaining 50%. (Back in 2010, Alamy only took 40% and the photographer got 60%.)

However, next year the contract will change and the split will be 60% to Alamy and 40% to the photographer.

My immediate thought was that this was like the Woman’s Weekly contract saga all over again. Here is a big company taking advantage of its little suppliers.

The Alamy forums make uncomfortable reading for the company. (They’re public forums so you can read what people are saying here.)

There is much for me to consider. When Woman’s Weekly changed their contract I made the business decision not to supply to them again. I’m not sure what course of action I’m going to take here. While getting less money per piece of creativity, I am at least getting something (from markets I probably can’t access on my own). But there’s a deep feeling that this is part of the slippery slope, and how much longer will it be before that photographer’s percentage has dropped to 20%?

Alamy has built its business of the creativity of its suppliers. Being completely blunt about it, if you want your business to survive you don’t p!?s off your suppliers.

This is also a reminder that the creative business world is always changing. As a result, in this business of writing, we need to change too. Being in business is about changing and adapting: dropping old markets and finding new ones.

And while, as a supplier, it is immensely upsetting and frustrating when the goalposts are moved like this, there is no one forcing you to continue supplying to this customer. Yes, trying to find replacement customers isn’t easy, and comes with a huge risk in itself. 

But, at the end of the day, who I do business with, as a writer or as a photographer, is my business. And as with the Woman’s Weekly saga I shan’t be rushing to make a decision. But I shall be thinking very carefully about it.

Staying in business is about adapting (which is, ultimately, what Alamy are trying to do – but whether they’re going about it the right way remains to be seen). Whether we like adapting is another matter. But the old adage is often true: When one door closes, another opens.

Good luck.

Shafting Your Suppliers

3 thoughts on “Shafting Your Suppliers

  • December 17, 2018 at 9:41 AM

    Yes. Disappointing isn’t it. With rates falling in writing, I’ve been making huge efforts to make Alamy pay. So it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth. The CEO asked me if 50% on exclusives would work for me, so there may be hope. It would, because at present, my images are exclusive, but he hasn’t said any more. However, I’ve decided to dip my toe into another pond. Pond5 to be precise. They offer 50%. You set the price – so there’d be no more $1 sales (but I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to try for a $250 sale either). I’ve uploaded 5 images and am already confused because they’ve disappeared.

    It looks like Pond5 might take some of my images that aren’t big enough for Alamy, but are really great shots. Or maybe not – that might be why they’ve disappeared! I’m trying to get my head around it, after jumping through hoops trying to get my ID accepted.

    I honestly don’t know what to do next, with fees falling everywhere. I wanted to do more on photography, because I’m tired of being treated really badly as a writer! And I’m sick of publishers issuing all rights contracts on everything, including my photos. I used to exploit rights all around the world, but it’s getting harder. Perhaps your punt for a PT job was a good move.

    • December 17, 2018 at 9:47 AM

      Yes, Susie, it’s the suppliers investment into this that really annoys me about this. We’ve spent a lot of time uploading and then keywording images. Am looking round at alternatives, but don’t really like what I see.

      • December 17, 2018 at 4:04 PM

        500px looked worth investigating I thought, as they licence your images to Getty and some Japanese firm, but the terms to which you have to agree to the latter are in Japanese (marvellous). Also, it says you get 50% of sales, but I’m confused, as I thought Getty only paid 20%, which suggests you might only get 50% of the 20% that 500px get from Getty – which doesn’t sound so good. If you find an alternative that looks attractive, let me know! The time I’ve spent on edits and keywording hasn’t paid back the minimum wage yet, so I see it as a long term investment and hope it’s worthwhile eventually. This does make the cut quite annoying though.


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