Photocircle: Buy photos, help the world
We can all think about online photo platforms and we are all already familiar with social organisations. But what it’s totally new to us is Photocircle, an online photo platform based in Berlin that combine both of them. Photocircle gives you the opportunity to give something in return to the captured people and landscapes.
After a long year of work and dedication Photocircle has officially launched last week. We had the chance to talk with Thomas Heinrich some weeks ago, one of the Founders of Photocircle. We met him at their office located in the Social Impact Lab, in Kreuzberg, and he explained to us all the details of this pioneering and promising idea. If you want to know more about their project, check out their website, they have a very cool video that explains it all very clear.
First of all, how would you define Photocircle?
Photocircle it’s an online platform where you can buy and sell high quality art prints that support a social project in the region that the photo was taken. You buy a beautiful piece of art, you get delivered to your home, and you help to support a social project. Until now the motif never gets anything, never gets benefits. The motif is one of the most important parts of a photo, so we want to change this and give back to the people or countries that make our picture beautiful, unique.
How does it work?
You do everything online. Upload your own photos, buy photos from photographers… Either way is fine.
How did you come up with this idea?
I’m a photographer, an amateur photographer, and I particularly like a lot photography. I was working in a consultancy firm before and I didn’t like it. So I quit my job and I went travelling. And when I was taking the photos, you know, most photographers always have this conflict, cause you want to take a great photo, which also has to be authentic, an authentic situation, but on the same way, you also kind of invade the privacy of the people. You maybe sell your photos and make money out of it. When I came back I came up with the idea and I wanted to do this. We have been working this for almost a year now.
Who composes Photocircle?
It’s Francesco, he is also the Co-founder of Photocircle, and he is also in charge of the programming. Gianna, she is been with us since two months now. She is writing the blog. And then we have another programmer in Italy as well, Cam. So it’s the four of us. That’s like the core of the team. There are many other people who helps us during the process. We have like a good network of people, specialists like lawyers, product managers, marketing experts and stuff. They help us. It’s very easy to motivate people to help us because of the social part of the idea.
What products do you offer on your website?
We offer different quality prints. You can choose between a Canvas, an Acrylic Glass or a Alu Dibond Fineart. There are many platforms that sell this kind of stuff and there are big differences on quality. Our wood is from sustainable forests, this is very important, because we can’t say that we are social and then we cut the trees in the tropical forests. We have tested many companies, many producers, we have travelled around Germany to find the right partner. So quality is very important because we work with photographers, artists, and they don’t want a bad quality. Of course also price, and very important that they are sustainable.
Do the photographers get in touch with you or do you contact them?
Right now we contact with them, because when we go online we need to have a few photographers, at least 20 – 30. So we just research and contact the photographers we like. By now we have professional photographs, but anyone can sell their pictures. They have to be good though. You can just simply apply with your pictures, upload them and we have pictures editors who check the quality, if they are suitable for our concept, for our website… and then they approve or they decline.
When a person buys a picture in your website, how do they know that their money is supporting a social project?
Through our website they see always how big the project is, the amount of money that is needed… And once we have reached the money we transfer it to our partners. We try to make it as transparent as possible so they can always contact us, contact our partners, and know about their money. We are also using our partner’s logos, we do fundraising for them, so they also write articles about us, post us on Twitter, Facebook… do kind of PR for us. We are using their logos and we wouldn’t be allowed to use them if we wouldn’t have contracts with them. Right now we work with big and well-known organisations, because we simply don’t have the man power to check each organisation. Personally I would like to work with smaller organisations cause they probably have less administrative cost and more money really into the project, but we can’t check if the money really goes where it should go.
Do you think that social conscience is growing more and more nowadays? And how come is that?
Yes, I think so. I hope. Well I guess that more and more people understand that we can’t go on how we have been doing during the lasts years and it’s not going to work anymore, it’s not going to last. We have to be more conscious about everything. I saw a documentary recently about shoes, trainers, of how much you actually pay for marketing when you buy a pair of Adidas. We don’t do the social thing because of the marketing or PR, but it’s also working, it’s also helping, because if we would be a normal photo platform no one would care, there are many of them. I think that for many companies, also like big companies have to work more in Corporate Social Responsibility.
Is there any other platforms similar to Photocircle?
No, that’s the good thing. We are the first ones. And if it works maybe their will be more. At the end it will be good actually.
What’s your impression of the photography industry nowadays? Do you think that it has to be reinvented by, for example, creating new business like yours?
Yes, that’s we try to do. We want to revolutionise the photo market. Like I said at the beginning, it’s not fair that the motif never gets anything back, so we what to give something back through the projects we support. And also we want to raise consciousness about the awareness of the motif. Because most people, me included probably, see and picture and just think, oh nice photo. But you don’t think about the person on the picture. We want to change this.
We know you are just starting the project, but can you imagine any future events?
Yes there are so many things that we would like to do, or we could do with our platform, but by now we just we just focus on going online. Like exhibitions, we don’t want to be this exclusive online company, that you don’t know who is behind. We want that people can get to know us, and that we actually exist. So exhibitions would be a nice thing. By now we go online English and German, but we would like to conquer other international markets. So another thing would be expand, and find other partners in the US, Great Britain, Spain Italy… that would be interesting markets for us.
Your office is located in the Social Impact Lab, in Kreuzberg. What is this exactly?
It’s a very cool place. I found it because a friend of mine was here. And back then it wasn’t the Social Impact Lab yet, it was a coworking place. But now they have the idea to support social start ups, social projects, offering free office space, and other kind of support, like mentoring and coaching and stuff like this. You can apply for it, you have to pitch your idea, and then there is a jury. It’s a cool place, with a very relaxed atmosphere, it’s in Kreuzberg, and it’s free. We can stay for eight months and we don’t have to pay and that’s a big thing, because otherwise we would still be in our kitchen probably, so it’s very helpful right now.
Text by Sílvia Cabra and picture by Silvia Conde.