Customers in French bar [Alamy image ref: AGXENN]

Usually, the one image which stays in any photographer’s mind is the one first sold… no matter where. My first ever photo sale was in the late ‘60s of a man and his pet goat on a collar and leash going for a walk down to the local pub – which made a few square inches of grainy black-and-white in that long-gone British weekend rag “The Reveille” look even worse than my amateur darkroom processing efforts, but I was paid a fiver… which is actually about the same nominal amount several British national newspapers are paying for images from photographers currently signed up (not me, thank you very much!) to Alamy’s “newspaper scheme” half a century later… and a fiver was worth at least ten times as much in buying power back in those days!

In a repeat of my largely inconsequential history, however, the image above of three casual friends in my local French bar was another first – my first image sold through the Alamy agency which I’d joined a few months previously in 2007. Those were the days when the initial submission had to be ten immaculate images for the dreaded “QC” (Quality Control) team, and the wait to hear if you were accepted by the agency could be around six to eight weeks if you didn’t live and work in the UK and had to rely on your submission being sent on a CD through the international mails. So when I read, almost daily, of new Alamy photographers complaining that their latest submission has been held up in QC for 24-hours and “WTF is going on – can’t they get their finger out?” with responses such as, “Yeh, I daren’t submit any more files in case QC fail one and all the rest waiting in the queue!” I think how lucky we photographers have been for the past decade with instant digital capture and only slightly slower processing and uploading to an image agency, picture editor or a hundred-and-one other categories of image buyer. Rant over!  ;~)

The EXIF data in Lightroom indicates I used a 12~24mm Nikkor zoom at the 12mm wide end on a Nikon D200 set at 1/60th and f/5.6. Apparently I took just three shots at 6 ‘o-clock that September evening… my main concern being the strong light pouring in through the bar window and the inability of the camera to control the contrast well enough for an image to be usable. Looking at the original again I’m very tempted to rework the image (experience, hindsight and the latest version of Adobe Lightroom are wonderful things)… but it can’t have been as bad as my old man and goat photo because it made a half-page in an American daily newspaper.

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