“Ethical” photo agency Alamy cuts photographers commission and blames Brexit

The agency describes itself as "ethical and philanthropic"

The photo agency Alamy has decided to increase how much money it takes from each photo sold and decrease how much the photographer gets.

Alamy’s CEO took to YouTube to explain to photographers why it was taking a bigger cut.

He said that when the company started out, they were paying photographers 90% then quickly moved to 60% and then in 2010 moved to 50%.

He said the company needed to invest to protect the company from the financial instability of Brexit, stating:

“I don’t think this is something we’re going to need again – famous last words. I think I’ve probably said that before. [But] I’m probably less naive than I was before.”

Commenters on his YouTube video were not impressed with the most popular comment saying

Yet more corporate greed Alamy. People will feel extremely hurt at what you are doing. Trying to justify it will not cut it with contributors who are already seeing diminishing returns.

In a statement, Natasha Hirst, chair of the National Union of Journalists Photographers’ Council also criticised the decision:

Many photographers rely on stock images as a form of pension and to supplement income in an increasingly precarious industry.

It is already hard for our members to gain a fair price for their work and this latest move from Alamy is making creators rethink whether producing stock remains viable.

It seems unsustainable to cut commissions each time the company wants to invest and we urge Alamy to reconsider this approach.

The NUJ’s General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet added:

Photographers are already having a tough time making a living and this is yet another hit they will have to take.

The union is very dissapointed that Alamy has made this decision. James West has blamed Brexit and the present economic situation and said he hopes to “return to a higher revenue to contributors”. 

For the sake of our photographer members this needs to be sooner rather than later.

Alamy is majority-owned by Mike Fischer who co-founded the business with CEO James West.

In the ‘why should I sell stock imagery to Alamy’ section of its website, the company says: “We’re ethical and philanthropic. We really care”

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