Stock Agency Reviews

Various stock agencies I am contributing to are listed on this page.  Reviews are based on individual experience.  Click on agency you want to learn more about on the sub-menu below.

Shutterstock    iStock    Alamy    Dreamstime    Adobe Stock


Alamy is high-end UK based photo agency.  It is not micro-stock.  As such, subscription based model where images can be downloaded for fraction of a dollar (i.e.  Shutterstock) does not exist.  End result is that contributor compensation is much higher, but it does not happen very often.    Someone worked out 'magical' formula that every 1000 images in a port result with 1 sale in a typical month.  While not exact science for obvious reasons, this stat is not far from truth either -- while on micros seasoned contributor with couple of 1000's of images in their portfolio can expect several downloads every day, on Alamy comparable port may not land a single sale in whole month!  However, when sale happens it is usually very good and sometimes measured in 100s of dollars.


Alamy is heavily editorial agency, but other types of content sells too.   New contributors can not realistically expect sales in first 6-12 months of being with Alamy, which can sometimes have demoralizing consequences.  My first sale on Alamy happened after 6 months for this image;  it was an IQ sale and huge surprise as I could not at a time understand who would want such a photo -- welcome to the stock industry.  Image was sold for $45 and I was compensated $22.50.  Image I received highest compensation ($44.50 USD after commission, sold for $89 USD) is this landscape on famous Windansea Beach just south of La Jolla in San Diego.  Incidentally, it is also one of personal favorite places in the world;  needless to say I was quite pleased.   (Ironically, this image was rejected by ridiculous Adobe QA with "Lack of commercial appeal" reason - you can't help but laughing)

You can search my entire Alamy portfolio here


Contributor Earnings Breakdown

Alamy pays its contributors 50% of image sale price.   This is most generous in the industry - specially when compared to miserable 15% iStock pays non-exclusive contributors.  In reality this amount is sometimes less than 50%  when sale is done through 3rd party distributor agencies, which are generally East Europe based.

One thing that separates Alamy from other stock agencies is that reported sale is still not guarantee you will get paid!  It merely means customer has downloaded your image, but has not paid (yet).  It takes usually upwards of 45 days since reported sale till the amount has been cleared.  In extreme cases customer never pays, generally for reasons like going out of business, etc.  It happens very rarely though.  Deposits into contributor account are through either paypal, skrill or direct bank wire.  Alamy pays after after cleared balance has reached $50 USD; this threshold is not configurable at the moment.

Contributor Experience

Alamy has the most rigorous acceptance criteria of all agencies I am contributing to.  Initial contribution consists of four (4) images and they all must pass fairly picky scrutiny.  Various technical aspects most other agencies don't check for (chromatic aberration, noise/specks, etc) must be spotless.  Once you pass and are accepted scrutiny eases and QA reviewers check just 1 or 2 images of subsequent uploads.  Unlike Adobe, Alamy edits only for technical aspect, and not for content, which is in my opinion the right approach.  Alamy contributors are assigned "Alamy rank" which promotes (or demotes) their images in customer search.  While agency does not reveal exactly all factors that constitute "Alamy rank", it is a combination of several things such as sale history, CTR ("click through rate") etc.  For selected customers Alamy is recording CTR and contributors can check it on daily basis.   It is great tool that effectively fights keyword spamming and allows contributors to see what search terms customers have used to find their portfolio.


Interface is Java based "Alamy Image Manager" and after 2017 facelift it is quite modern and easy to work with.  Alamy supports concept of "super tags" -- up to 10 tags out of allowed 50 can be assigned higher importance, which then promotes them in customer searches.  One particular aspect of contributor experience I like the best is that metadata is specified after the QA.  That way, unlike all other micro-stock agencies, you don't have to waste your time before you know image has been accepted in your portfolio.  Alamy does not support exclusive contributors. 


Overall, Alamy is great agency, but not for typical micro-stock contributor.  If you are able to produce quality editorial fresh content and willing to be patient for couple of years till you built sizeable portfolio, on a long run it will pay off.  Otherwise,  you are probably better off with micros, such as Shutterstock.  Follow this link to register as Alamy contributor and upload your initial submission.