Submitting editorial images to Alamy

Alamy is the first place I recommend uploading your quality editorial images. The reason is simple, the Agency caters to editorial editors who may be looking to illustrate such images in magazines, newspapers (print and digital), brochures, and travel guides.

Evidence of the popularity of editorial images regularly sourced is a quick look at the thread with links to where contributors found their images licensed on websites via Alamy’s forum thread: ‘Have you found any Alamy pictures in August‘. I would estimate that 90% of images sourced at Alamy are for editorial-usage.


I’ve had a bit of an epiphany lately as I’ve been discussing with Alamy veterans on the best way to improve my sales on that site, which have been disappointing as of late. After some brutally honest feedback, it turns out I’ve made some mistakes.

Mistake Number 1: Mediocre captions and keywords

This is something that’s extremely relevant to submitting to all Agencies, not just Alamy. I’m currently doing an audit of all my images which is an extremely tedious and time consuming especially considering it’s 2,600 images, but well worth the effort. I’ll do the same for my top 50 best-selling images on Shutterstock.

Mistake Number 2: Originally duplicating editorial images on Alamy (RF) and Microstock (RF).

I’ve stopped doing that for some time, but it’s clear that it has affected my revenue as some buyers are savvy enough to search for cheaper options at Microstock, especially under subscriptions (36c/download). If you see my portfolio at Shutterstock I have loads of editorials, but I do save my best new stuff for Alamy.

It can be frustrating to wait months and even years to have downloads at Alamy but it’s often well worth the effort as royalties can be considerable, especially as Rights-Managed! If you read my book, it’s all about passing the marshmallow test.

Mistake Number 3: Avoiding to upload some editorials

Sometimes I overlook some images and don’t upload ALL my editorials to Alamy. Perhaps I think it’s a non-story.  This post will be about correcting this third mistake and I’ll talk through my latest batch at Alamy, including the keywords I’ll be using.

Latest batch upload at Alamy exclusively (Rights-Managed)

I’m from Rio and the city is dotted with favelas. One such favela called Cantagalo (meaning ‘singing rooster’) is close to Ipanema where I was staying. Two years ago, thanks to a contact, I managed to visit a school sponsored by the NGO Criança Esperança (meaning ‘Hope for Children’). At the time, the favela was relatively safe to visit, but the same can’t be said as of late.

Favela Cantagalo with the NGO being that large structure on the left

Going up!


Arriving at the NGO school

Crianca Esperanca is an NGO in the Cantagalo favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Best classroom view I’ve ever seen, even on a cloudy day
Graffiti overlooking Cantagalo favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Some ‘newer’ images I worked on

Despite clearly being editorials, at first I didn’t feel comfortable uploading images of children without the guardians’ consent, so I didn’t. But now I feel like it’s part of telling the story of the school and a little bit about how life is like this favela, from the perspective of kids. Plus these are relevant shots which may be featured in media.

crianca esperanca2

Swimming pool at Pavao Pavaozinho favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Stunning views of Rio’s ‘zona sul’, including Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas
little girl in favela
A cute girl smiling with the city in the background. What is most touching is what’s written on her arm…
‘Mãe saudades’ means I miss you mom. I didn’t dare to ask where her mom is but it’s probably clear…
Kids playing football in favela
Future stars training for World Cup 2030

Why I think they should be Rights-Managed

As these images above are extremely difficult to obtain, especially now that it’s too dangerous to go up the favela due to gun battles between rival gangs and police, I feel they should be licensed as Rights-Managed.

In particular, the image with the little girl is unique & authentic with extra value due to the city in the background. All-round a winning combination.

Which caption & keywords will I use?

To avoid my first mistake, mentioned earlier, I’ll be captioning & keywording these images to an excellent level and I encourage you to do the same with your images. For the little girl smiling I’m going for:

Caption: A girl (4-6) smiles with Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro background. A message written on a girl’s arm that translates to “I miss you mom”. Taken at Cantagalo favela.

Keywords: ‘4-6, aerial rio de janerio, african brazilian african descendant, barefoot, braids, brasileira, brazil, brazilian, brazilian reality, cheerful, child, childhood, city, concepts, developing world, dummy, favela, favela girl, favela rio, female, happiness, hope, inequality, ipanema, leblon, life, little, little girl braids, love mom, miss mom, mulata, one person, overlooking rio de janeiro, pavao pavaozinho, cantagalo,  crianca esperanca, poverty favela, poverty in rio, problems, rich vs poor, saudades, scene, skyscrapers rio, slum, slums, smiling girl, south america, third world country, urban, written on arm, zona sul’

About Criança Esperança:

Crianca Esperanca serves more than eight thousand children and teenagers. Created in 2001, the center offers sporting, educational, and cultural activities overlooking Rio’s beautiful natural landscape.

crianca esperanca

Until next time!



  1. Great shots, Alex. Interesting that you are using long compound keywords – like aerial rio do janeiro. Do you know that Alamy takes that into account in ranking? I understand that they do take the order of keywords into account and how close a keyword is to other, but adding aerial to the city name seems to be taking that too far? By the way, the american term for a dummy is a pacifier so any american searching would use that word!


    • Hi Matthew,

      It depends, if you’re submitting Live News you’ll get 600 characters to play with and it’s important to try to make the most of it.

      With normal stock, it’s 150 characters but there’s also an option to add more information on “additional info” under “optional”.

      As for the content, Alamy doesn’t require the Shutterstock “Place, date, story type” format, just make sure to make whole sentences (and of course relevant). Make sure to use important words as captions are also picked up by search engines.

      Hope that’s helpful! I really like Alamy, great agency, hope you have some success there.


  2. Now then Alex. Great post as always. I have just started with alamy and im a bit confused with uploading editorials as you cant choose before uploading.

    I upload as photos and they go straight for reviewing. Is this right and you then just change them to rights managed when they have been checked. Or should they be uploaded as reportage/archival which is greyed out for me at the moment?


    • Thanks!

      Alamy is a “big boy agency” in that they treat us like big boys and let us make our decisions and we have our responsibilities. So if you choose to license an image with 100 identifiable people and 50 trademarks, it’s up to you and you take the risk.

      Ideally you should mention that its’ editorial only for when there are identifiable people / property. This could be as Rights-Managed Editorial or Royalty-Free Editorial, up to you. Keep in mind that you cannot duplicate Rights-Managed content on Alamy with RF on micros.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers Alex, I thought it was a bit strange they approved my images without me stating they was editorials. how do you go about setting them to Rights-Managed Editorial or Royalty-Free Editorial only options i can see are Rights-Managed or Royalty-Free.


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