Stockafé is a relative newcomer to the microstock industry, opening its doors in November 2014. The brainchild of successful veterans of the industry, led by photographer Alan Sheldon, Stockafé bills itself as created by artists, for artists, with every member of its team involved in some field of creative art. Responding to the frustrations of fellow stock artists from around the world, Sheldon and his team decided to build something entirely new, creating even the technical framework behind the site from scratch. They believe that by putting a premium on buyers’ time through simplifying the user experience, keeping prices transparent, and offering a well-maintained library of top-quality images, Stockafé can offer value that supports higher payouts for the artists involved.
There’s also a streak of good-natured rebellion in Sheldon. When asked about his goals, he tends to answer with a grin: “We’d love to shake some things up.” He describes Stockafé’s direction this way:
We can make a difference
At Stockafé, our primary goal is making a positive difference in the stock industry. We believe that the “race to the bottom” mentality can be changed, and that we can run a successful stock agency that operates on “fair trade” principles. We believe that when our artists and buyers thrive financially and creatively, so will we.
More than that, we believe we can make a difference not only directly for contributors and buyers, but also indirectly in the world around us. By providing the imagery used in advertising, blogs, publications, and websites, stock photo agencies play a critical role in helping to shape perceptions in audiences throughout the world. And to us, this presents an exciting opportunity to step beyond the ordinary and step up to an active role in change.
As artists, we know how powerful images can be. Visual messages are the stuff of influence, both overt and subtle, intended and unintended, positive and negative. Recently, there’s been a lot of attention on the unspoken and often unexamined messages inherent in the images that the media uses to represent certain groups, especially women and girls, people of color, people with disabilities, religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community. Images that represent individuals and groups in healthy, equal, powerful, and realistic ways are often in short supply. And we want to do something about that.
We want to go beyond the traditional “stocky” look
Because our agency is young and our catalog still growing, we have the ability to actively and mindfully grow our collection in new directions. Our goal is to build a diverse, dynamic image (and video) library that goes beyond the traditional “stocky” look, and provides a marketplace for breakout work from photographers and illustrators across the stock spectrum. We welcome artists of all levels in the stock industry – old pros to students – and especially encourage fresh visions of what stock can be. We think one of the most valuable things artists can bring is the authenticity that comes from depicting a world they’re intimately familiar with, so we especially want to reach out to both established and up-and-coming artists from groups that haven’t been well represented in stock photography.
Will you join us?
Stockafé is calling for artists who are interested in helping us change the messaging by changing the type of images available to the media, images that move beyond “stock” stereotypes and challenge perceptions. We want to see real girls doing robotics and science experiments, young men interacting with small children, boys and girls in non-gendered cooperative play, vibrant older women, real women doing real work, two-mom and two-dad families, people of color in all walks of life, people of all body types comfortable with themselves. Wherever your imagination can take you – and us – in helping build a foundation for better, more powerful, media messages.
We’re in the early stages of this project, just beginning to build this strategic effort. Our plans include establishing partnerships with advocacy organizations, and creating a named collection of featured images, the sales of which would benefit our partner organizations. We also envision establishing mentorships and scholarships for talented artists from within underrepresented communities, and reaching out to help them build their own creative voice and social influence.
Want to join us in this effort? Just sign up as a contributor, and begin submitting your work. We can’t wait to see what you can do!
For more about who we are and what we do, see our Stockafé Manifesto.