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Ashley Cooper pics / Alamy Stock Photo

The $100,000+ club (part 4!) – Alamy’s top earning photographers

Welcome to part 4 of our $100,000+ club series of blog posts, where we get some insight from those photographers who have made at least $100,000 (and in many cases several $100,000) worth of sales on Alamy alone. There are hundreds of photographers in this special club, and for those of you who want to be a member, we hope you find the insights here useful.

Not read our previous editions? Catch up on Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

As with the previous blogs, I’ve asked some current members what they like about working with Alamy and what tips they’d be willing to give other photographers. This is what they had to say:

Ashley Cooper

Valley mist over Lake Windermere from Todd Crag in the Lake District, UK at sunrise.
Ashley Cooper pics / Alamy Stock Photo

>>Ashley Cooper’s Alamy collection<<

“I have spent the last 13 years travelling to every continent on the planet to document the impacts of climate change and the rise of renewable energy, Alamy has been with me every step of the way on this journey.”

“There are a number of reasons why I love working with Alamy. Firstly because of the simplicity of using the upload platform, unlike other agencies, no messing around re filling in captions/keywords etc. Once you’ve captioned and keyword your images in processing, Alamy’s system extracts everything for you. I also love the fact that you are your own editor. No agency editor throwing out crucial images as they don’t understand the technical nature of your work. Its a simple platform, that works and delivers results. I also really like being able to see my sales progress in real time. I would recommend working with Alamy to any photographer.”

David Kilpatrick

Evening light over the River Tweed at Kelso, Scotland.
David Kilpatrick / Alamy Stock Photo

>>David Kilpatrick’s Alamy collection<<

“I started submitting to Alamy in 2002 and was encouraged by respectable sales early on despite a small collection – I weathered the dips of market crashes and recessions later on by watching the way my Alamy sales tracked share values back up again every time.”

“Hardly any of my 28,000-plus images involved a production cost other than ownership of the digital camera kit. I carry a camera all the time and take every opportunity offered to travel, but many successful shots have been within a few yards of the door. As a trainee journalist in the 1970s union rules obliged us to be absent from the newspaper office for a full hour every lunchtime and I could not use my camera for work (demarcation). So I used to joke with my photographer colleagues that I could take a walk at lunch and get my pictures reproduced in the national, photo, county and general interest press. Before I left to go freelance, one year’s cuttings showed over 250 in print.”

“I should, in theory, have retired in 2017. The UK state pension is not generous even when you have 46 years of contributions. Despite not planning adequately, I ended up with a six-figure private pension pot (just) but it’s worth little in terms of regular income while interest rates are low. It was when we had to decide how to use this that I realised 15 years of relatively informal contribution to Alamy was worth just as much – and from past experience, I know that if interest rates rise my Alamy figures are likely to rise too.”

“Photography has been a lifelong preoccupation, recording the world around me whether it’s five thousand miles away or on my desk (and I’ve made plenty of sales from images taken without moving away from this screen and keyboard). While I have a few images elsewhere I use Alamy almost exclusively. I only shoot for editorial, and I have not a single model or property released image – now I have more time as my work only involves producing one magazine every two months I may return to making fully released more commercial images as I did for libraries in the 1980s.”

“What you get out of Alamy depends on what you put in, and from my position it looks like a sound investment for the future.”

Eddie Gerald

Fabric roses decorating a doorway of a shop in the city of Sofia capital of Bulgaria.
Eddie Gerald / Alamy Stock Photo

>>Eddie Gerald’s Alamy collection<<

“Since I have been a freelance photographer mainly for the editorial market for almost 20 years I’ve been asked to explain my views on photojournalism a few times. Generally, this information is intended as an introduction for my students in the academy considering a career in photojournalism or others unacquainted with this profession. I can only say I don’t label myself as a photojournalist, editorial or art photographer simply a photographer. I love what I do, I like to tell visual stories with accurate details as much as possible and I’m passionate about traveling. I have been shooting on assignments in over 100 countries and most of the material goes to Alamy – a great agency which I have been submitting images since its establishment.”

“I mostly like the ability to sit with a glass of red wine, listen to my favorite music, log in to Alamy Image Manager and go back to the images and travel memories in my free time then amend or update the captions, since I find that a great picture is worthless without a precise caption. My biggest single photo sale through Alamy was if I remember correctly £17,900 UK pounds which ended up in a nice shiny silver car which I loved very much. So if a single photo can buy you a new car I still trust in photography. you just need a good agency for the world to see it. Love you Alamy!”

Andrew Paterson

The Library of Birmingham exterior at dusk
Andrew Paterson / Alamy Stock Photo

>>Andrew Paterson’s Alamy collection<<

“I’ve been a contributor with Alamy since 2003 and although I upload regularly, I’m not a volume producer and only have 8000 images available. My collection is fairly diverse with sales that are equally diverse and I have many images that make regular repeat sales. The images that earn me the most are often ones that were straight forward to produce but generally speaking if an image is well composed with appropriate lighting and conveys something specific or topical then the likelihood of it making a sale is much higher than average.”

“With new images, I add keywords before upload using Photo Mechanic and then I know they’ll be searchable and available for sale as soon as they pass QC. Alamy make the process of upload, QC, keywords, sales reporting and payment to be very seamless and I like the Alamy Measures tools to see how buyers are searching for images.”

“My 3 tips for doing well are:”

  • Keep production expenses to a minimum, I’ve made many sales by photographing items around the house and even things that are happening outside my office window.
  • Don’t upload lots of versions of the same shot. Facing left, straight on and facing right is usually enough for most things.
  • Always ask yourself “why and how would this image be used?”. A photo that clearly shows one thing or conveys one concept will do better than something that’s trying to appeal to everyone and targets nobody.

“Bonus tip. Make the most of your network, for example do you have connections to access to a unique viewpoint for a city skyline?”

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Keep an eye out for future posts as we feature more members of the club – it’s open to new members of course, you just need the right images, fantastic tagging skills and lots of hard work to enter

A photographer, digital media degree holder and part of the Alamy Content team for 15 years. James has a strong interest in all things visual and is our Head of Content.