When the story of the rebranding of Africa is told, there will be a wide chapter on the boom in visual documenting we are currently witnessing on the continent. I bet Africa has never before been photographed by Africans as it is being currently photographed.
An interesting element of this is the rise of photography as a profession. And the rise of African content focused stock photography sites. Such sites combine two traits that run through most African photographers; the love for the craft, and the love for the continent. One such site, African Stock Photo, promises even more; better rates and great user experience for the buyers and the photographers. African Stock Photo is barely months old but it seems to witnessing some positive growth. I posed a few questions to the co-founders, Sitati, the tech. guy, and Dicky, the creative(you can see their faces in this video), to find out why their initiative is first, relevant, and second, the better option. Here, are the responses in their own words.
Do you think your venture is unique? If yes, Why?(What is your core differentiating factor from any others out there)
What we’re looking to do to stand out is simplify the licensing model as far as possible, be very attractive to photographers in terms of rates, and be more aggressive than the alternatives in digital marketing. All of these let our users’ photographs be seen by more buyers, and ultimately sell more than the competitors’.
In terms of the tech we’ve done some things to make the platform as easy as possible to use. We have introduced a Machine Learning-based self-tagging feature, which detects objects in photos and helps to make the work of describing your pictures much easier. We have Paypal payment support, which lets people shop securely without signing up, and get their photos instantly. We have a slicker uploads system than most alternatives, which lets you easily upload a batch of photos all at once. Tech is one of our strong points, we’ll be looking to jump on every bit of feedback we get from our users about pain-points in the process of selling their photos.
What are your rates?
Our pricing model is simple: the buyer pays $20 per photo, of which 50% goes straight to the photographer with no transfer costs incurred. The remaining $10 goes to cover the Paypal fees, server costs and all other overheads. Our aim is to be very attractive to the photographer – $10 per image is way above the rate you can get on iStock, ShutterStock and many other stock photography sites.
Who owns the rights to the photos after submission?
Your photos are still yours! We’re a marketplace letting you sell your photos to a global audience, but ultimately the content you upload remains yours, and you’re free to request removal of photos that you no longer want to sell through us, and to license your photos directly through other means. In addition, if we ever use your images in promotion without the watermark, we will pay the photographer for the rights to use your image just like any other buyer would.
What do you hope to achieve with this?
Building this is a bit of a personal dream!
Dicky’s background is as a team lead in a digital creative outfit here in Nairobi, and he’s also a part-time photographer. That means he’s very familiar with both sides of the coin here, as a content producer and a buyer, and knows how nobody has quite captured this market for Africa yet.
Sitati’s background is in tech, building cool, clever, reliable tooling that solves specific problems really well is his passion. Together that’s a dream team, working on the things they’re not only good at, but passionate about.
The plan is to grow this out into a sustainable, full-time pursuit, hiring people to help us grow this further, empower content creators across the continent in telling authentic visual stories about home and furthering the opportunity for photography to be a full-time professional pursuit.
There is a photography boom on the continent now, methinks. How do you plan to engage these photographers to win them over to your platform?
This is what drives us! There definitely is no shortage of supply of incredible photography across Africa. Here in Nairobi we live in a real central place for this, but you don’t have to go beyond Instagram and blogs to see that this immense passion and skill among photographers spans the continent.
Without giving too many secrets away, we’ve been working hard to talk directly to these photographers, and sell them on our vision. It’s not going bad so far! A few weeks in, we already have a bigger database than some of our older competitors, and we have photos from all corners of Africa. We have big plans for the next steps – it might not be feasible to represent every photographer on the continent, but we do hope to at least be known to most of them, and let them make the choice about whether we’re the right place to sell their photos.
How do you envision the future?
We want to build a base of photographers and collection of photographs that is unmatched on the continent. We know the quality of imagery and passion for the craft is there in abundance, and we know that if we build on this, there will be no shortage of buyers, and our platform and business will grow.