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Just wondering which firm offers the best deal for a first timer to submit images to a stock photography site and any general rules.
Many thanks Bob
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For most people I would suggest Alamy as they only check for technical quality and leave the contributor to decide what to upload. There are other libraries which can generate more sales but you need to be very good to get the most from them and they tend to be far more hard work to deal with.
I think rejection and the occasional boot up the backside is a good thing from a library. Even though Alamy are good sellers, the fact that they don't have a bouncer on the door editing for content is countered to a large extent by their ranking system. If you shoot popular subjects in mediocre fashion you'll quickly find yourself languishing at the bottom of a very large pile. If you shoot niche, well captioned photos you might easily meet with greater success without being any better as a photographer, purely by dint of getting your photos seen.
Still, Alamy are as good a place as any to start—at least you can jam your foot in the door! Photography is so oversubscribed that it's often not enough to be able to match the standard of a successful library; frequently they're looking for you to be able to bring something new to their collection, or they're looking for a high-quality body of work that isn't already being sold on 10 other libraries. Exclusivity is a dying idea amongst many stock photographers - plummeting licensing fees have made it less viable to commit to one library (Alamy don't require exclusivity).
I submit to 9 libraries (including Alamy), in revenue terms Shutterstock and iStock lead the way by a country mile for my portfolio accounting for some 75% of my overall revenue despite the fact that they have, in my experience, the toughest submission criteria and I have fewer pictures with them than any other agency.
With Alamy you have a chance—albeit a remote one of late—that a photo might sell for a few hundred bucks. Four-figure sales still occasionally happen, though it has only happened to me once.
Microstock yields a quicker return for anyone that hasn't a large body of work behind them, but those of us that have been kicking around for a few years still often find it exploitative—a business model that works better for entrepreneurs than it does for most photographers.
I'd imagine it makes more business sense not to sell the same photos at significantly different price points, not that the difference is vast these days.
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