Stock photography was made for a time where a Western visual aesthetic dominated mainstream media. Print magazines with staged photo shoots featured the types of models that represent a small part of the world’s population. These images were then distributed across the globe by businesses and creatives. At the time, there were only a few images, and a few businesses. Today there are millions of photographers and storytellers, and countless uses for images to power storytelling, so why not source them from everywhere since we have the content? The dominant visual culture is shifting, but not fast enough because communities are still misrepresented since people don’t get the chance to participate in the storytelling, and traditional stock photo companies with high entry barriers weren’t built to accommodate this kind of mass participation.
Scopio’s vision is to make billions of high quality images on platforms like Instagram accessible to the world so they can power human stories. The world is diverse, and Scopio has a mission to become the largest library of authentic images- a place where photographers from everywhere can contribute their photos.
The company was founded in New York by Christina Hawatmeh and Nour Chamoun. It started as a platform to connect people who are documenting social movements and sharing them on social media platforms to news outlets looking to tell these types of stories. The world is sharing more images than in all of history combined, but it is still a challenge to find and license photography that is diverse and truly representative.
Today, everyone is a photographer, and we should see our stock photography libraries like we see Wikipedia. Anyone with a good eye can participate in the creation of images so that they can be archived online and legally distributed where artists can keep the copyright and ownership. We notice the scarcity of usable images with the right legal permissions with social movements and protests in different places as well as global events like COVID-19. Everyone has a story to tell but needs accompanying images, and although we know they are all over the place, there is no easy access to them.