Careers in Photography: Contributor Services Manager

Ever wondered what it’s like to work in the photography industry? Over the next few months we’ll be interviewing some of the Alamy team to give you insights into what they do, how they got here, and their views on the industry. Our first interview is with Ben, our Contributor Services Manager. He is part of the Content team, they look after everything to do with getting imagery on Alamy, working with photographers, videographers and other photo agencies to build up our collection.

Name: Ben Gray
Job title: Contributor Services Manager

I’m a Jack of all trades, master of few; my role is varied covering a number of areas of the business but all are based around the photographer side of Alamy.

I manage the relationships with some of our key agencies, head up our member services team (they deal with questions from over 38,000 photographers), and look after our mobile app Stockimo. Alamy strives to be as transparent and approachable as possible so it’s crucial we have good communications with all the photo-agencies and photographers who upload their images to Alamy. Without photographers happy to share their creativity with us, there would be no imagery to license. Stockimo has opened up a new stream of content which lets us engage with a new kind of photographer – we’re constantly working on improving Stockimo so I’m learning a lot about the world of apps.

How did I get here? After dropping out of art college to follow my vague dream of “being creative in film and television” and with the misguided belief that the streets of London are paved with gold, I struggled to get a foothold (and a sense of direction). I worked for many years in unremarkable roles of the industry in Soho (the film and TV industry that is… not the other famous Soho industry) . After meeting my now wife in Oxford a vacancy opened up as a Digital Image Assistant at Alamy and I saw a chance to rekindle my love of photography. During the interview I talked for far too long about Robert Mapplethorpe’s risqué photography and the now defunct “cat-scan” website (cats in scanners), but Alamy saw something in me and I got  the job! I spent a number of years working with the Alamy database and metadata (that translated to uploading images and making sure all the keywords were in the right place,) but frustratingly at that stage there wasn’t much involvement in the photos themselves, I did develop a love of Excel spreadsheets though. Since then my role has evolved and I’m now much more involved with the photography side (although I do still love a spreadsheet!)

Since I’ve been at Alamy the industry has seen some massive changes and challenges. With the global economy taking a big hit back in 2008, Alamy has had to stay smart to stay afloat – luckily for all of us that ethos was set out by James West when Alamy began in 1999, so we didn’t have too much adapting to do. We’ve seen some of our competition making drastic changes to their operations, and we’ve seen some falling by the wayside among fierce competition from the likes of Microstock* and subscription models*. Alamy has stayed true to itself though, remained profitable and we’re still an attractive option for photographers!

Outside of Alamy I’ve started expanding my photography beyond  foodporn and beerporn style imagery. I now have a son and since he was a couple of hours old I’ve religiously kept up a photo diary of his life documenting him and his exploits with at least one photo every day for nearly three years. It was initially a 12 month project where I built a website to share the photos with friends and family. The intro on the site jokingly says “The first year of his life… or maybe up until his 18th birthday where Daddy appearing to take his photo every day is just plain embarrassing.” However, it’s now taken on an almost obsessional quality and I’m not so sure that line is still a joke.

We’ll be back next month with another interview.

If you’re new to stock photography, here are some industry definitions to help you out

Contributoranyone who contributes images or video to Alamy, otherwise known as photographers or agencies.
Microstock – A type of stock photography where photographers submit photos online to be sold at a much lower cost than traditional stock photo agencies.
Subscription modelsthis is where you use credits to buy images rather than money, credits can be bought in a variety of packages and will vary from site to site. Subscription packages are most common in microstock.

Have you got a question about stock photography? Post in the comments below and we’ll get back to you or join our forum for a photographers point of view.

If you are a photographer and would like to upload to Alamy you can find out how over on our contributor pages.  If you take great photos with your iPhone then download our mobile app Stockimo.

If you’re a photography student  we give 100% of the money from any sales you make for 2 years! Find out more on our student page.

To see any current job vacancies at Alamy head over to our Work for us page.