That’s the headline that greeted me when I opened the BBC Home Page just now.

I clicked on the link and I found this.

Mixed emotions, I guess. This is the drum we’ve been beating since we started fotoLibra in 2004, and the media — even the photo press — has steadfastly refused to listen to us.

In desperation we appointed a slick London PR agency, and last week they got us this great feature on the BBC Leeds website.

But the people who place the stories where it matters — on the BBC’s Home Page, for crissake — know nothing about us, despite our daily bombardment of letters, emails, flowers and phone calls.

They’ll write all day about American web sites, but they can’t believe that there’s a British company which would be doing as well as Flickr or Facebook or Picasa or any of the others if we could only receive the same level of international coverage. National exposure would be good. We’re even pathetically grateful for snippets of local coverage.

Facebook has had a movie made about it, already, So, fotoLibra: The Movie. I can see it all now. Obviously Brad Pitt would have to play me, Keira Knightley Yvonne, Daniel Auteuil would play Damien, Llinos’s part would be Uma Thurman, Graham is Colin Firth, and Jacqui? What about Quentin Tarantino?

Why was I looking at the BBC Home Page when I should have been working? Well, I hate to admit it, but we’ve had a little problem with the fotoLibra site, and although it can be seen and used, members and buyers can’t log in at the moment. There’s some sort of corrupted data table; we’re working to restore it and we expect the website will be up and running again by the time you read this.

Apologies if you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog.


Add your comment


33 Responses to “Could the photos you take for fun make you money?”

  1. Martyn Osman says:

    I was hoping for real international recognition, but , so far I have not been approached by famous fashion magazines , National Geographical or the BBC re their Desert Island Discs.

  2. Lana Wright says:

    im not into IT, knor am I the brightest spark with downloads etc, but I love photography for fun, esp nature shots. How do I go about getting onto a sight which will pay me for my photo’s?

  3. hazel says:

    I am not sure what photos count as “photos you take for fun”. The minimum size of photo required by fotoLibra surely mandates at the very least the sort of kit and dedication only found in the “serious” amateur photographer.

  4. Mohammed Ismail says:

    I Like Your Work Photo Libra. And I want stay with you in net, and I like participate pictures with you.
    I am also a International Ameteure Photographer From Dhaka,Bangladesh.
    Thanks For Accept me in your valuable time and place.

  5. Mohammed Ismail says:

    Sorry for wrong Print,Not Photo Libra.
    Right is Foto Libra.
    Sorry Again.

  6. howard t says:

    just mailed the beeb to complain and put your case – best they get it from third parties (the public lol!) hope it helps!

  7. David Smith says:

    I was hoping one day to maybe sell a few pictures but photography is now and always has been just a hobby to me and my website is only way to show it off but despite copyright markings and statements all over the site I keep finding my pictures for sale on e-bay. When I have tried to sell a few there myself I have never had any luck at all.

  8. Jan Traylen says:

    Yes, I had mixed emotions too but my overriding reaction? Frustration and anger: upload a photograph to the BBC site (they always ask for an eye witness report and photo’s on any story featured on the news page of their website) only if you’re want the glory as you won’t get paid for the use of it!

  9. Mike Mumford says:

    Like you I get the BBC local news emails. They are a reasonably mixed and sometimes useful pieces of information. The BBC have a great responsibility to set high standards in everything they do. Unfortunately they seem to be stuck in a grove, their endless repeats and squeezing the news repeats, day after day. Where are the old fashioned skills of good research looking for British talent not in the gardener’s turned show host. But in new everyday working people, showing the best, to educate the public to help themselves. Through a collective responsibility, change attitudes by giving good examples, standards we can all respect. We are becoming a spammed society, living near the gutter with an iphone in one hand, heavy music between the ears and no responsibility in how we live our lives.
    I urge your photographers to take images that shock and teach us to build-up our pride, without our skills we are nothing.

  10. Richard says:

    This country is in thrall to everything American. I have no idea why or how to begin to reverse it. Recent UK Governments of whatever flavour have jumped to Washingtons every crazy demand.

    Maybe now that the China is overtaking the US as the global “Superpower” we will realise that our future lies in engaging fully in Europe and forgetting America. It is noticable that this country does it’s best to pretend that Europe is not important.

  11. Tony Parry says:

    Its all about networking and knowing the right people who make thing’s happen. Its not what you you know but who you know in this world ‘e.g. getting your self in to a well known celeb night club as the only pro photographer allowed to take pic’s of the punters withe the celebs believe me they love it as long as the club and celebs get pic’s and publicity out of it, and the photos do the rounds in the Mag’s you can’t go wrong never publish a bad photo of a celeb golden rule.Once the celebs know you and you work you can’t go wrong.

  12. Jim Walker says:

    As an American, a retired soldier, and a fotoLibra member for a number of years, I really do take issue with the American bashing. I joined fotoLibra not because it was in the UK, but because I thought it was one of the best models for selling stock photos that was available. My only regret is that you don’t sell more photos to the American market. The shortcomings in the UK market with BABLA and BBC to name a couple are not due to anything the Americans have done. It is all British, and you should look to home to fix it. It is always easier, as Richard has done, to try to blame everyone else for your shortcomings. I have not seen the British Government jump to demands from America, unless they were in the UK’s best interest. Remember Richard, you forget America at your own peril. Stick to photography, it is something you MAY know more about.

  13. Ed says:

    Hey, I live on the East Coast looking at GB… we all point fingers, everyone loves the other side of the fence… we live on a very small planet now with the Internet… anyone can have great power if they use the resources right… just look at that Canadian Bieber! Let fotoLibra expand a bit and become a source of news images for BBC and other news outlets… you have got the network and most anyone can post within minutes of an event… we all can be proactive, not reactive… just my half penny thougts…

  14. Len Sparrow says:

    Yes I read the BBC article. So professional photographers are getting worried about amateur competition! No mention of the competition by TV channels asking for photos from viewers so that they may see their names in print (big deal!) Why do they not offer decent reward for their contributions?

  15. rob wildlife2 says:

    BBC used to request me for pictures in Kent. They used them mostly on S.E News TV and used to acknowledge the photographer and publish them on the web site.. now, the don`t care.. and prefer video of exciting events.. the days of photography are numbered and its up to US to promote photography and make it available to see the good photos that we take. Use Facebook to promote your fotolibra files, I would love to see Facebook plastered with members pictures and name.. So come on members get onto Face book with your albums using the fotolibra site.. as easy as that and the name will be seen by thousands… as for bashing other members in other countries that is a NO NO please.. like us in the UK we need our photographs to be sold..
    And, whilst on this topic .. Fotolibra why not advertise that stock photos are available in photographic or travel magazines.. small ads in the mags will help.. and take an advert in Facebook … or similar .. google talk ads. virgin etc…
    But most of all keep trying and Oh yes report to us on what the new Marketing team/ Pro TEAM HAS DONE.. As MEMBERS it would be useful to know..

  16. Well, quibbling about how, what and which issue is wrong and complaining to one another to refrain from nation-bashing is as good as anything I guess. But shouldn’t a like-minded group of informed people set about discussing how best to move forward in a constructive way. Politics is not responsible for improving fotoLibre’s fortunes and that of its members. Enterprise, gumption and temerity prove more worthwhile.

    I personally have laboured long and hard at cracking National Geographic’s impregnable walls, and exhausted most avenues to raise income for my images throughout many gallery websites and the like. Small cracks do appear from time to time and I remain always the optimist never the laggard I continue to believe, ‘doing nothing is not an option’. At sixty five I’ve been round the block a few times…

    If fotoLibre is prepared to press ahead and improve its image (sorry for the pun) it must engage with individuals, members and others – experts and gurus and seek assistance, a think tank for want of an expression. It should re-evaluate its marketing strategy, and set stringent KPI’s that actually do make a difference to the business. Persuation is often seen as impossible, but it isn’t. Price is key. on costs paramount and the cost to clients intimately flexible. Fees to photographers likewise. Meagre is always better then ziltch especially at the start of a renaissance, nothing is not an option.

    I suggest a well-known figure in British film and photography society (suggestions please) should be invited to be fotoLibre Patron. The appointment would be an honorarium, and would provide a useful figurehead, and more importantly publicity. Together with sound management the way forward could be a lot better than it is at the moment.

    I remain loyal to fotoLibre’s principles and will be interested in following its fortunes with great interest.

  17. Gwyn Headley says:

    Hello Jim Walker — this is the second time I’ve been accused of “American bashing” in a couple of weeks. Can you explain to me what this actually means? I interpret it as zoilism, and I can’t see I’m guilty of any trace of that.

    What does “American bashing” mean and where did I do it? If I was intending to “bash” anyone, isn’t it obvious that it’s British journalists who are taking the pounding?

    The same person a fortnight ago also accused me of “Asian bashing” and the first time I’ve mentioned Asians is — in this comment!

  18. Gail says:

    I do so agree with Len Sparrow. And it’s not only photographers that are affected by this trend of being published just to see your name in print. It applies to writers as well. In fact I blogged about it only this week. TV, Newspapers etc are hardly going to pay for something they can get for very liitle or nothing at all.

  19. Robert Povey says:

    They make it sound easy don’t they ? I am an ordinary member with Fotolibra but I am also a member of another site which I have been a member for quite a few years. I have never sold a single picture and despite having over 400 pics on the site. This really is not many compared to the thousands on there, so the chance that a buyer will buy mine is slim. Which makes the 12 allowed by Fotolibra ridiculous and if I were to pay a fee to upgrade I would be out of pocket. Who are these casual snappers that are supposed to be making the money ? claimed on the video, a lot of american sites only pay peanuts so you would have to sell plenty of pictures. Plenty of books also claim you can make money from your snaps but the reality I believe is totally different. You need a reasonable set of kit to meet the 300 dpi required on most sites and some vet the pics as well so you can’t just shoot away without decent composition. I sometimes wonder if it is really worth the effort with the time it takes also to prepare the pictures and search words.

  20. Mikkel says:

    Gwyn, Jim Walker was responding to the post by “Richard”. He also says so in his post.

  21. Richard Barton says:


    Jim was mistaken, I was not bashing the Americans. I was thinking of our own rather odd fascination for that country, while at the same time we turn our back on countries much closer to our own, both physically, financially and culturally. I suspect that some of Gwyns frustrating experience with the media is caused by this attitude.

  22. Jim Walker says:

    Gwyn, I am sorry if you thought I was commenting on your original post. It was more of a response to the post by Richard (10.), and I apologize to Richard if I took it the wrong way. I have been a loyal member of fotoLibra for several years, and I, like everyone else, would love to sell more photos. I have read these posts with a lot of interest, looking for new ideas. I noticed that only one person mentioned Facebook. But that may be a way to at least get the fotoLibra brand noticed. Does fotoLibra have a Facebook page? If not, why not? If yes, I would love to link to it. Facebook may be an inexpensive way to promote the fotoLibra brand.







  25. Eric Dodds says:

    Photos for fun, I find myself looking for all the odd things in life that people or companies want such as road works, litter bins etc. I note there is a lack of images of “dog poo” as was once mentioned. I will have to look further into this one. I suppose it is all “art” of use in some form. But will it sell ?

  26. Suz says:

    The minimum image requirements from fotolibra are relatively relaxed. The big stock libraries like alamy will not take images from compacts or bridge cameras even though their resolution is perfectly acceptable. They generally have a fussier QC process so your images won’t even be on display if they think they aren’t good enough. Alamy don’t charge though so you can have a risk free trial and see what sells.

    The only people making money from stock libraries are those on microstock sites or those people with thousands of images. Having a few hundred isn’t enough.

    With flickr pro being so cheap with an easy method to offer licensing via getty and easy upload I think the future is in a flickr style way of doing things. But there are lots of people that are happy to give away their images for free.

  27. rob weaver says:

    Gwyn I would love to know the outcomes of who wanted or used the photos taken in Romney Marsh recently.. I spent a great deal of time on this assignment and the photos were taken to light box.. HOW DO I KNOW that they were not used? How do you know tey were not used.. ? I would love to make some money.. and support fotolibra but what DID THE PRO do? .. What has the new Marketing Manager/ Person/PRO done? .. these moves would I am sure ensure that fotolibra gets good support from its membrers.. publish a list of successful pictures sold by your team.. or congratulate members as sales occurr… anything positive will help in these times..

  28. rob weaver says:

    Hello GWYN are you there?

  29. Gwyn Headley says:

    Hello Rob, I’m sending you a personal email as you are requesting commercial information which we don’t care to publicise on a blog. I can publicise the fact that four images were purchased from fotoLibra as a result of the Romney Marsh Picture Call.

    The PR people are doing their best; here are links to two recent stories:

    Recent sales are always shown in the Sales tab at the top of the current fotoLibra Home Page.

    Graham, our new sales guy, has been fixing up meeting with new clients all over the place, so I can’t always respond to detailed queries such as yours within 24 hours. Sorry!

  30. rob weaver says:

    Thank you Gwyn for your reply on my mobile.. unfortunately, you forgot or I cannot access the photo examples selected… would still like to see them..
    Also you have referred to the web pages for Birmingham and BBC requesting FREE photographs available to photographers.. I have been a member for yonks and would love to see adverts or suggestions to newspapers, medias, magazines etc.. that they contact fotolibra for photos.. your marketing team although doing an effort to capture sales CANNOT possibly reach all the media.. may I suggest that fotolibra takes an advert in facebook and other social network pages.. and that maybe fotolibra start up a page similar to the one at on facebook.. at least tis way we shall I hope become more internationally known… Kindest regards and keep trying a reply on marketing actiond planned will be appreciated..

  31. Nick Jenkins says:

    This is an impossible circle to be squared. On the one hand there are folk like myself who rely totally on income from photography to both sustain my business and thus support my family. On the other hand are many people who don’t need this income (or not as much) and use it to fund a new lens, or similar. These are the people who are robbing me of my opportunity – more pics spread across a huge market = less income.
    That said, until 2002 when I was made redundant I too was a hobby photographer. So before the wolves bay I have been on BOTH sides of the fence.
    It has cost me far more to supply fotoLibra than I have earned – and this makes me very sad. 7,000 pics posted over the years since fL was started.
    Where I go now – I really do not know and am finding it very upsetting indeed.

  32. Hi I do agree with all that you have said above and do feel that anything the British do, does not really get enough recognition. I have to apologise again for not being able to put my photographs on profile as I am having difficulty in putting them there. You also say about sending them with some copy right? Which I do not know how to do. I have a lot of photographs and would love to share them with you and even get money for them but I feel that I am going to have to give up as I don’t seem to be getting anywhere at moment. keep up the good work people

  33. I received your email, wanting photographs of Russia and downloaded 25 pics of St. Petersburg, checking, downloading and adding Keywords. Then they all went blank? Did they download?
    So how can I check if they are now on my fotoLIBRA site?
    There is a ‘deadline’ for these pics and I have some that are part of my travels.
    Please send me an email on the correct way to send and download my files.
    Peter Noble ARPS