Two minutes is all it took. I needed the pictures anyway for an article. Just a few carefully-constructed shots of the dumplings. They needed time to cool before I could eat them, so I wasn’t even spoiling my food! Some quick processing in Lightroom and then really the only added step was uploading them to the Alamy stock agency.
Shanghai, where I’m based, is famed for dumplings. One of the local types called shengjianbao is a thick-crusted large dumpling with soup and traditionally-prepared pork inside that is first fried on a skillet before water is poured over to finish cooking it with steam. Da Hu Chun reputedly has some of the best in town, and I was there to find out for an article. My meal, including a plate of four dumplings—two the traditional variety and another two that had a prawn and pork mixture—cost all of about $3.50.
There are two major reasons I like Alamy as a stock agency:
1. They do not require releases, allowing you to upload pictures for editorial use. This means you don’t have to worry about having a model release just because the back of a person a mile in the distance is in the shot or a street scene has a million brand names plastered all over it. As a travel writer first and foremost, that suits me down to the ground!
2. Money. Alamy simply pays better than a lot of the other stock agencies out there. No, you don’t get the same volume of sales as with some other agencies, but when you do sell something, the pay is worthwhile. My photograph got $100—how’s that for a plate of dumplings? OK, admittedly Alamy takes 60% of that, but you can sell that photo over and over through them, without having to do any more work.
Today, stock photos tend toward realistic, or “authentic” shots. And I’ve noticed that about a quarter of my sales on Alamy in 2018 were of food.
Everybody goes out for lunch at least once in a while. Next time you do, take your camera and get snapping. One big advantage with taking pictures at lunch rather than at a restaurant in the evening is that often the lighting conditions are better—especially if you can sit near a window. Try it! Who knows, maybe you, too, can make a quick $100 over lunch.