An open letter to Alamy CEO James West

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Dear Mr West

When our members first pointed out that Alamy was reducing the commission that it pays to contributing photographers the first reaction was “oh no not again”. Sitting and watching the video that you posted on YouTube didn’t help. 

Alamy is a company whose success is built on its relationship with the people who have trusted you to handle their stock and live photography sales. Relationships built on trust are destroyed very quickly when one party moves the goalposts and that’s exactly what you are planning to do.

Many of our members are contributors to Alamy and a significant number of them have invested incredible amounts of time and money supplying images through your service. They have done this based on an expectation of an equitable split of sales. The graphs showing increasing revenue and turnover do not show the whole picture when it comes to the incomes of individual contributors. Very few of them have had the degree of income or turnover growth that Alamy can proudly boast about. We know many photographers whose income from Alamy has plateaued at best and, in a number of cases, reduced significantly.

We are not stupid. We are amongst that group of photographers that you mentioned who understand the market. We know that many individual images fetch lower prices than they once did, that it is a complex and competitive market and that sales models have changed since 1999. We understand that the financial uncertanties of Brexit mean that you have to be cautious over the next twelve months or more. We understand that Alamy wants to improve and grow. We understand that you want to fund those goals from within your own revenues but we don’t understand why you would do so at the expense of the contributors whose effort has been one of the key drivers of your rise to a turnover in excess of $30,000,000.

In essence you are asking hard working and dedicated photographers to take a 20% pay cut. It doesn’t matter that Alamy is selling more and has the potential to sell even more in the future if your investments in technology and research pay off. By reducing the photographers percentage you are asking them to pay for those developments and we would be interested to know if anyone at Alamy is taking a 20% pay cut to help fund their futures.

You will, no doubt, have read the comments underneath your video on YouTube. The anger is there for all to see and there are many photographers on there who are going to reconsider their relationship with Alamy. They don’t agree with your assertions that 40% of more sales is better than 50% of a slower increase in sales and, as individual photographers, they are probably correct.

We would ask that you reconsider this move and that you continue to pay existing contributors 50% of the sales. If new contributors want to join then maybe you could agree the 60/40 cut with them. There has to be a way to keep the trust of our members and still be able to fund development because, as things stand, Alamy keeping 60% of fewer pictures of lower quality is a distinct possibility which benefits nobody.

Kind Regards

The BPPA Board

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thebppaAn open letter to Alamy CEO James West

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