Tag: alamy

Adventures in RF Microstock

In late August 2016, after many years of being highly-critical of Microstock sites, I decided to follow the old cliche of “if you can’t beat them, join them”. And so began my adventures in Microstock.


How did I get here? Well for many years, I have edited an editorial stock image archive of my own work as a photojournalist and even used to shoot images especially for stock. Back in the days of slides and prints, I was doing pretty well. Then in the late 1990s, the digital era dawned, I began putting my slides and negatives into 35mm film scanners and learnt all about IPTC (now XMP) metadata.

The world looked exciting, but scanning was very slow and quite tedious to edit all the dust spots and scratches off the film. Nevertheless, more of my work was digitised and I had some success in the early days of Alamy – before falling subject to the machinations of a certain Alan Capel (Head of Content at Alamy – I’ll leave it to the reader to guess what nickname I gave him!), who I suspect may have been bullied at school. This situation was repeated some years ago, when he had my collection deleted (after years of tagging and just as I was making money on the site again). Thanks Alan Capel! What a great chap!

Naturally, this plunged an already struggling photojournalist into poverty. Compounded by the inroads microstock sites were making in the market. Rights Managed was getting very difficult to earn anything from and gradually, the license fees dropped and dropped.

Thus, the large Rights Managed collection with TopFoto.co.uk began earning less and less. It was a similar story with Rights Managed stock images I have with Photoshot (now Avalon Media Group Ltd). On top of all that, UK newspaper budgets were slashed over the years and now in 2016 remain quite pathetic, large newspapers like The Daily Telegraph paying just £25 for a live news image on their web site.

I now run a photo agency myself called Atlas Photo Archive, though it is not earning much revenue and I am near to closing it down. This is because UK newspapers (my main clients) quite often use a news image submitted on-spec, though through a variety of accounting tactics (though scams may be a more appropriate word), do not declare the use. I have had to suspend several picture desks from my news syndication list as a result of catching them red-handed. In particular the Daily Mail, who coughed up almost £2,000 in undeclared image licenses in the spring of 2016.

The excuse of their accountant in New York, Patricia Pohl, was that my agency credit was the wrong way around. That it should be: Atlas Photo Archive/Jonathan Mitchell, rather than Jonathan Mitchell/Atlas Photo Archive. The system is unable to pick it up on the self-billing otherwise, she told me.

Not having a lot of time to consider it at the time I complied, then realised recently, that this is, well, quite a large porky – as all other agencies with images published on Mailonline put their agency credit on the end like this: Andrew Parsons/i-images!

Needless to say, my subsequent ‘self-billing’ statements have not been encouraging and I suspect that the good old Daily Mail accounts department has slipped into it’s old, dodgy, fraudulent ways.

The accountants at UK national newspapers know full well that little agencies like Atlas Photo Archive cannot possibly monitor their entire print and web output. In my experience, unless you present them with a ‘sighting’ of the image used, their policy appears to be not to pay the contributor. I’m no lawyer, though it appears to me, to be tantamount to fraud.

Hence, the collateral damage from this kind of accounting policy has damn near put me out of business and has diminished my profits no end, due to spend many a tedious hour dealing with these accountants in [an often vain] attempt to get the money from images they’ve published actually paid. Gallingly, these awfully clever corporate accounts types probably get a bonus for these dubious practices as well!

So I decided to sign up on several RF Microstock sites, like Shutterstock, Bigstockphoto, Dreamstime and a few others. The results have been quite interesting.

Thus far I have about 340 images (many editorial) on Dreamstime and have sold just 4, earning US$1.29. Shutterstock have less than 70 images on their site (at the time of writing) and a set of images from a archaeological site in the Shetland Isles has been doing OK. I have made around US$9 with Shutterstock at the time of writing.

One problem is haphazard and sometimes unprofessional editing. Around two-thirds of the images I submit being bounced out, which is quite frustrating when you have spent several hours editing a submission for them.

I am now learning how to up the rate of acceptance, though it an unpredictable business. Sales seem quite steady on Shutterstock and I hope to add more work in the future and build it up as a good revenue stream. I also contribute HD video stock footage, though I have been doing this with various agencies since 2009 and find it does not sell very well.

I hope to write more about the RF Microstock industry in the future and where it can fit in with some photojournalist’s workflow and cash flow.

If you want to look at my 1080p HD stock video footage, then please visit my YouTube channel: AtlasHD


My collection is now deleted from Alamy

Please note that anyone trying to access my archive of stock images on Alamy.com will no longer be able to do so, as they were deleted without a clear explanation by Alan Capel – the Head of Content at Alamy seemingly through sheer spite. No official reason was given and this came about after I resigned from their News Feed.

It is rather sad – in my opinion – that someone like Alan Capel can ruin a year’s work of tagging and uploading by a hard-working contributor and loose Alamy a small fortune in future sales.

After talking with Alan Capel, I got the distinct impression he has a very limited understanding of photojournalists and editorial stock photographers and seems to be more interested in commercial stock imagery. Surprising that an outfit like Alamy.com would put someone with this attitude into a position of power where he can delete collections on a whim. Even more surprising that they let him out of his commercial stock play pit to deal with serious photographers who document the real world.

But hey-ho, that is Alamy. I would advise any potential or existing contributors to Alamy to avoid entering into a contract with them. And personally, I think that their actions are despicable, completely unfair and totally unwarranted.

I have since established a new database and if you are a picture researcher or photo editor whom was licensing my work via Alamy, please visit www.atlasphotoarchive.com – where you can search and request images from my collection that were previously housed on Alamy.

Falling foul of the spoilt posh-boys mafia at Alamy.com

Last week, after a conversation with the hapless Jes at Alamy Live News, I decided to resign from supplying live news images to Alamy, but as they are sadly one of the only outlets for stock images, I was aiming to keep uploading reportage stock (my commercial stock always being rejected by a Prince of Dweebs, Alan Capel, the ‘Head of Content’).

Having worked one year on and off with Alamy Live News, my experience was that they are not a good outfit to work with, have poor sales and like many other agencies treat photographers quite badly. The crunch came when I was told by Jes – who is seemingly employed as to make James Hall appear competent – that I was not sent any diary information as “sent direct to the nationals”. I explained that any diary information from Alamy Live News would get sent to them. But I was just talking to a scratched record by then, repeating the same old nonsense.

I was soon to find out the content of the head (Capel), so to speak, which would perhaps be an insult to feces…As on Monday, the charming and talented Mr Capel informed me that the entire collection of around 4,000 images I had worked very hard to upload and tag – were to be deleted! As they are now scheduled to be in 44 days.

Mr Capel and I go back to the dawn of Alamy when he berated me for shock – swearing in an email. I subsequently resigned from the agency after he deleted all my files under 28MB without any warning (surprised they have any files with his penchant for arbitrary file deletion). Once again, Capel, came across with his sanctimonious gibberish as the justification for deleting my entire collection from their damned servers.

Needless to say, this has done irreparable damage to my career and destroyed any possibility of continuing as a photojournalist.

One amazing comment in the email from Alan Capel was: “We gave you a second chance after you were rude and abusive before, it seems you haven’t changed…You leave us no option but to terminate your contract with Alamy.”

The mind does boggle…All I did was write quite legitimate complaints about the Live News service being rubbish. However, all this bullying on the part of Alan Capel  says volumes about Alamy…i) The let a lunatic like this manage their ‘QC’ ii) They do not understand or care about photographers, just money.

In short, I’m a victim of this horrible company which is mostly run by sad, spoilt rich kids from Oxfordshire. I would therefore recommend that any photographer who reads this would be sensible to steer well-clear of these vicious corporate robots (nevermind their weird moral judgements), because as this sorry tale clearly shows, they are ruthless…


Union Jack and St Andrew’s flags make a great generic illustration for Scottish independence stories

UK SCOTLAND Edinburgh -- 17 Sep 2013 -- Flying the flags...The flags of Great Britain - the Union Jack (right) and the national flag of Scotland - which is the flag of St Andrew (left) on top of the Lloyd's Bank PLC headquarters (formerly the HQ of the Royal Bank of Scotland) in Edinburgh Scotland UK. Scotland is due to vote on an independence referendum in one year's time. File image dated 11 April 2011 -- Picture by Jonathan Mitchell | Lightroom Photos
UK SCOTLAND Edinburgh — 17 Sep 2013 — Flying the flags…The flags of Great Britain – the Union Jack (right) and the national flag of Scotland – which is the flag of St Andrew (left) on top of the Lloyd’s Bank PLC headquarters (formerly the HQ of the Royal Bank of Scotland) in Edinburgh Scotland UK. Scotland is due to vote on an independence referendum in one year’s time. File image dated 11 April 2011 — Picture by Jonathan Mitchell | alamy.com

It is an emotive issue for many north and south of the border…That of the Scottish Independence Referendum due in 2014. With less than a year to go, the debate on this issue is hotter than ever. I shot the image above in the summer of 2011 to illustrate the issue and so far, it has been used on four occasions in The Times. It is one of the better images like this available and you can license it direct from me by emailing lightroomphotos@icloud.com or from alamy.com.