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James West – CEO Alamy

The latest Photo Archive News ‘brief’ interview.

When did you start in the picture library business?
I co-founded Alamy in October 1999 with Mike Fischer and Tom Dean.
What were you doing before that?
I became interested in the internet whilst working as an IT assistant for a medical research group at Oxford University, before moving on to building an automated web hosting service in 1997. I also enjoyed a brief period as crew member and photographer for a treasure diving organisation.
How many employees do you have?
How involved are you in every day picture sales decisions?
We have a sales manager who runs this department and makes every day decisions.
Is the future totally digital?
Do you have any advice for a new picture library?
Shoot digital and sign non-exclusive contracts. The future will offer multiple distribution channels for your digital assets and you should resist exclusive contracts where possible. You never know what new opportunities lie around the corner.
Which papers do you read regularly?
I read the FT, BBCNews online and the Observer at weekends.
What activities do you pursue when you are not at work?
Keen sailor.
Which system do you use for your online library?
All our systems are developed in-house.
Is it web based?
Where do you live?
Family status?
How are your camera skills?
Nerd level – technically good, creatively poor.