Piccadilly Circus – Usage of my images #5

Published by Marco Rubino on


Eros Statue at Piccadilly Circus, London (UK) © 2013

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For the fifth episode of “Usage of my images“, let’s go back to Europe and more specifically let’s fly to London, where the image analyzed in this article was taken: the famous statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, one of the most well-known landmarks of the British capital.

The image was taken in March of 2013, during my first trip to England, throughout three days spent exploring the city under a strong snowfall and definitely challenging temperatures, which made my photo tour quite complicated, although this did not prevent me to realize several images that then, in the following months (and even now at a distance of two years), would end up to give me great satisfactions with the various microstock agencies.

Among the hundreds of images of London that are part of my portfolio, undoubtedly the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus is one of those that has generated more downloads in absolute and that has been used more frequently on the Internet, thus allowing me to track down the various uses through the usual Google image search.

The Location

Piccadilly Circus is one of the most famous squares of London: it is the most important crossroad, combining different streets of great importance for shopping, such as Piccadilly, Regent Street, Haymarket, Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street. Due to its very favorable location in the West End it is considered the true center of the city and one of the first places to visit for all tourists coming to London. Besides the importance for its proximity to the shopping district, Piccadilly Circus is a focal point for the nearby access to Leicester Square and the theaters district of the West End, which is why it has also become known as the “Times Square” of London. But the similarities with Times Square are due mainly to the presence of the famous advertising light displays, present in the square since the beginning of ‘900, reminiscent of – but to a much smaller scale – the most famous intersection in Manhattan. Finally, Piccadilly Circus is just a short distance from St James and Green Park, near Buckingham Palace, while on the other side of the square, along Haymarket you can reach – with a short walk – Trafalgar Square, the most important museums of the capital and the places of the political power that governs the United Kingdom.

But Piccadilly Circus is also known for the famous “Fountain” (though there’s not even a single drop of water in it) which is right in the middle of the square and is universally known as “Statue of Eros”, the God of Love from the Greek mythology. Not everyone knows (included me before my trip to London) that in reality it is a wrong attribution, even if well-established and conventionally accepted by everyone. The monument in fact, made by Alfred Gilbert in 1885 and titled “Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain“, was originally dedicated to the Angel of Christian Charity, to be identified in Greek mythology with Anteros, son of Ares and Aphrodite, brother of Eros and “God of requited love“.

The Shot

As previously mentioned, the weather conditions were not the most favorable ones: snow, wind, cold and generally a rather gray light even at mid-day, did not allow me to create an image of high-impact color or with a very “artistic” look. Among other things, this is a very popular location, therefore it was not easy to make a very original composition that could stand out among the thousands of similar photos on the market. Finally, as a place always crowded with tourists and passers-by who normally camp out near the monument, it was also difficult to find a way to frame by excluding people and recognizable faces.

I had no chance to use my tripod for the shooting, so I preferred to use a rather unusual lens for this type of situation – the 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX Nikkor – that could guarantee me to shoot at a safe speed, taking advantage of the exceptional sharpness that this lens notoriously grants. Nikkor 35mmNormally to photograph monuments and architecture a wide-angle lens would be recommended, but in this case the 35mm DX proved very useful just to rule out the frame all the disturbing elements (first of all the tourists) that would have made it extremely difficult to finalize the image.

Here following the EXIF data of the shot:

S: 1/250 f/1.8 ISO: 100

The editing process was quite simple: in Lightroom I’ve only straightened the image, controlled the color temperature and to balance shadows and highlights. Then in Photoshop I completed the process by removing stains, controlling noise and applying the output sharpening before exporting the final JPG. The preparation of the file for forwarding to the microstock agencies was pretty easy: as the title I preferred to keep the conventional attribution of the monument as “Statue of Eros” (after all, if everyone calls it so, also the buyers will presumably search for it with this name); also the keywording and submission processes have been quite smooth.

Although the subject was not particularly original (I would have expected many rejections due to oversupply) the file was approved by virtually all agencies unconditionally. Therefore it’s not surprising that this image has over time generated several downloads, despite having a lot of high quality competitors. It seems to me a good example of how even the simplest and most touristic shots, provided they are impeccable from a technical standpoint and indexed properly, they can generate downloads and revenues in the medium to long run. It is also further proof that the travel photography, although constituting a niche in the world of microstock, is still able to produce satisfactory results both in the short and the medium-to-long terms.

The use of this image on websites

There are many occurrences among the search results on Google about this image: though it is a common image, and apparently little distinguishable in a search online, some details (such as the gray light or the flag flying on the left edge of the picture) allowed me to easily identify it among the search results.

Obviously the more frequent use of this image is on blogs or sites that deal with travel and tourism to London and England, with numerous examples from all over the world (eg. ViveLondres.es, Logitravel.com, PlanetWare.com, WeLoveExpedia.com and others). Moreover, this image has been used by the well-known blog “Womanitely.com” in an article that celebrates the 10 most beautiful streets in the world, among which of course also appears Piccadilly Circus. This article was then replicated by various blogs and sites around the world, especially in Asian countries. Among other uses, worth to mention sites of real estate firms (such as Brown&Carroll Living) or the many news sites that have adopted an article by David Hoile “Africa must leave the ICC” (eg. Leadership.ng, Chidiukwu.com and others).

As usual, here following a selection of the main examples that I’ve been able to found by searching on the internet (click on images to enlarge them and browse the gallery or click on the link in the caption to read the article online, if still available):

Logitravel.com (Spain)

Planetware.com (Canada)

Womanitely.com (USA)

Chungta.vn (Vietnam)

Ilmikdunya.com (Pakistan)

NextTrip.my (Malaysia)

Sokblog.ru (Russia)

TheTrentOnline.com (Nigeria)

Arabia.com (Saudi Arabia)

Leadership.ng (Nigeria)

Chidiukwy.com (Nigeria)

Brown-Carrol-Living.co.uk (UK)

To read more about how buyers use images sold through microstock agenciesclick here.

Other resources:

– Overview of the major Microstock agencies

– Microstock Agencies Evaluation

– My personal workflow for editing and selling images online

– Sources about digital photography and microstock

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Expert in Marketing and Communication in a major company of the Italian FMCG market, traveler by vocation, passionate photographer, contributor at all major international microstock agencies, founder of Marcor$tock, a blog focused on Microstock Market and Digital Photography.