Exercise: Get your work seen


In this exercise, you’re required to submit 10 images to Alamy and have them passed by the company’s quality control so that they appear on its website. It’s up to you to select a category for your series of images but you’ll need to shoot approximately 50 images for your chosen category, with a view to submitting the best 10. Ensure that there are no flaws in your image.

Before you shoot:

  • Check out Alamy’s terms and conditions and the standard image file sizes
  • Search the Alamy site to investigate the current stock in respect of your defined theme or area of interest and think about how your proposed imagery can have an ‘edge’ over it. Alamy is a high image quality agency so you’ll need to take this into account when you shoot imagery for submission to them

Document all your research in your learning log or blog along with reflections on your choice of imagery and its placement within Alamy’s stock.

Finally, imagine that an advertising agency is looking for suitable images for an ad campaign. What might your images be used to advertise? What would you add to the images to make them an effective tool for advertising the products you’ve suggested?


This exercise fell when I was about to spend a week and a half in the south of France (Nice and Arles) so I decided to pursue ‘Travel’ as the category, and for the most part use Mediterranean town scenes as the content – shutters, warm colours, narrow streets etc.

The Alamy site has an excellent and informative quality control (QC) document that explains common failure reasons. According to the site, they do not judge the aesthetic quality or saleability of images but are solely focused on the technical quality of the images submitted. While some of these failure reasons were obvious (blemishes, blur, colour casts, noise etc) a couple were noteworthy, such as suggesting no sharpening (let the customer do that) and specifying black point and white point should be 0 and 255 respectively (with only a 5% tolerance).

The Alamy process specifies that the first upload should only contain four images, which will all be QC checked before allowing further uploads. Subsequent uploads are subject to only spot-checking.

The four images I chose for the initial upload:

These passed QC first time, so I uploaded the remaining six which also passed:

Potential uses

The fairly obvious uses of these images would be in the travel industry. Whether they are suitable as main images for ‘pure’ advertising, I’m not sure, but they could serve as secondary images in an ad, or to illustrate an advertorial, promotion, online feature etc.

At least three of them (Three Wheeler, Negresco and Blue Chairs) have enough blank space to overlay text onto if needed.

What I’ve learned

Whether I do any more stock photography or not, this has been an enlightening exercise for a few practical reasons:

  • Technical quality criteria are more wide-ranging and more precise in their requirements than I’d expected
  • I understand image licensing better now, e.g. the difference between royalty-free and rights managed, the need for model and property releases for commercial uses etc
  • It’s made me think much more about why someone might want use a particular image _ what message they want to communicate and what visual language they might be looking for to do so – so in effect it’s introduced an extra layer into my thinking about visual language: the client!


Alamy QC Failure Reasons http://www.alamy.com/contributors/alamy-qc-failure-reasons.pdf (accessed 13/09/2016)


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