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.