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New Stock Photo Library Helps Tell Africa's Story

African photographers can now produce high quality photographs, thanks to the quickly evolving tech scene. High end cameras can now be purchased from different outlets from within Africa. The photography business is also one that is rapidly growing in the continent.

But one thing that has been largely unexploited is having an online outlet that can enable photographers to sell their work to the world.

Granted, renowned photostock library such as GettyImages and Shutterstock have a considerable amount of African images. But local photographers have still not fully embraced the platforms to sell their images to other African buyers and to the world.

A couple of African dedicated platforms have come to the fore in recent years. Sites such as Africamediaonline, Afripics, Africaknows and Africanphotographynetwork have launched to plug in the missing links on African images. But one platform is fully focused to continue to alter the market with high quality photos.

Foto.com.ng has boldly entered into this space to give Africans and other global interests access to images by professional African photographers. The platform, which was officially launched in March this year, already boasts 10,000 images online.  With a US$100,000 investment, the company aims to shake up the space and be the top shop for African images.

So why are they different from the previously launched African platforms? Firstly the founders are well known serial entrepreneurs in Africa.

The company is founded by Jason Njoku, Bastian Gotter and Mary Njoku. Jason Njoku is arguably a media mogul in Africa. He is the founder and owner of IrokoTV, an online platform for African movies that is taking the continent by storm. Foto.com.ng is under the Spark group of companies.

Secondly, Sola Akindolu, the CEO of the company, tells us that they have the largest stock photo in this space.

“There are a number of other companies out there trying to make some headway in the stock image market, but I don't believe they have a library to match ours, or indeed their images are as wide-ranging in terms of content or subject matter, or are as well shot,” Akindolu told IDG Connect.

Regardless of the pace setters in the market, the company still felt there were few exceptionally good quality African images online.

“It was clear from day one that the increasing number of digital and design agencies in Africa were struggling to find high quality stock images that could be used for Africa-targeted campaigns. We found that there was definitely a need to serve media and advertising companies with African themed images for storytelling and brand connection,” Akindolu said.

“We work with some of the industry's most talented and innovative photographers who have an eye what makes a powerful image.”

“Sometimes we approach people whose work we’ve seen and that interest us, others come to us with their portfolios and then we discuss how we can work together from there. We have to make sure we combine the creative process with being able to monetize the content, so the relationship works both for us, and the photographers,” Akindolu added.

With easily accessible high quality digital cameras and improved workmanship, these photographers are opening up the continent to the world in a whole new perspective.

Foto.com.ng has a wide variety and comprehensive library stock for African images, from individual people to different age groups, to families and business images.

The company has already sold a number of images to Nigerian advertising agencies in the short time it has been operational.

“We've already built up some excellent client relationships with key digital agencies and creatives across Nigeria, supplying them with top quality, beautifully shot images, and we hope to build more such relationships in the coming months, especially as we grow our library,” Akindolu said.

He explains that they only accept high quality photography from professionals all over the continent.  But any business venture comes with challenges as Akindolu explains:

“A major challenge is educating people on what we do so we do a lot of explaining on the essence of our business. Getting people to understand what intellectual property is and the idea of paying for quality, legally sourced images has been an entire education process, one that I believe we're winning.

“Now, the next challenge will be to connect with more design agencies and creatives across Africa, not just Nigeria, to build up our client base. We feel that quality speaks for itself and that we will soon be recording more international clients on our lists.”

David Mutua, a renowned photographer in Kenya also concurs that most photographers do not know the benefits of such platforms.

“What needs to happen is photographers must realise the power and opportunity that lies in using such platforms. The websites can act as a continuous source of income based on the content uploaded,” Mutua said.

Although Foto.com.ng is not yet profitable, it aims to be the ultimate destination for people looking for African images online and eventually generate revenues for its members.

The Photography Association of Kenya is also planning to have its own online photostock library to market their photographer’s work, and the plans “are currently underway”.

It is definitely a sector that will grow over the next few years and when more and more sites sell African images, the world will only have the best to choose from. Photographic content will help Africa tell the African story.

 

Vincent Matinde iss an international IT Journalist highlighting African innovations in the technology scene.

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Vincent Matinde

Vincent Matinde is an international IT Journalist highlighting African innovations in the technology scene.

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