Injecting creativity into commercial photography

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EyeEm’s approach to photography has always been different. Initiated as a community art project, in which its four founders organised and exhibited the world’s first mobile photography competition, EyeEm collaborates directly with photographers to provide original imagery that is tailored to each brand’s individual needs.
Although it was founded just seven years ago, the visual platform is now home to a community of 20 million photographers from 150 countries. EyeEm is driven by a mission to empower creatives by providing a platform where their work can be presented directly to brands and agencies.
Anybody can submit their work to EyeEm’s platform, be that a professional photographer or an individual who has captured a striking photograph during a weekend stroll. While EyeEm Market enables brands to browse photographs according to theme, EyeEm Missions allows its community to submit imagery in response to a specific creative brief.  
Pre-existing visual platforms often have strict vetting processes – tending, as a result, to only attract submissions from professional photographers – but with its use of artificial intelligence technology, EyeEm does not present such obstacles. Advanced technology facilitates the instant indexing of every image added to EyeEm’s platform. Once indexed, an algorithm scores each photograph based on its image quality and curatorial relevance. This allows for images to be automatically curated in response to client briefs.
With such a large and diverse community at its fingertips, EyeEm regularly sets Missions – week-long creative briefs, typically presented by brands, where its community is asked to submit images that respond to a predetermined theme. In 2015, EyeEm worked with international consultancy film BCG to redesign its website using Mission-sourced photography. Other Missions include sourcing photography for campaigns run by Land Rover, Canon and Huawei.

Chairs in Rotherhithe. © CdL Creative.
A Mission hosted by British Journal of Photography in November 2017 asked EyeEm’s community to capture the British capital through a local lens, photographing “the scenes, individuals and lesser known gems that make up the city’s rich cultural tapestry.” More than 24,000 photographs were submitted, a selection of which are presented throughout this article.
Below, Gavin Booth, EyeEm’s director of sales, discusses the importance of opening up stock photography to a wider community, as well as the opportunities presented by user-generated content.
Why is user generated content such a powerful force? What is its potential?
Social media is pressuring brands towards what is now a new creative life-cycle. What was “user-generated” is essentially now an explosion of original creativity surfacing through new platforms. Brands clearly see the value of that and the potential is extreme once harnessed.
How can EyeEm revolutionise how brands work with photographers, and vice versa?
How do brands currently surface amazing new talent? What are the options for amazing new talent now that some of the more traditional access points for photographers are drying up? Through our technology and curation teams, we are not only presenting incredible photography, we are also presenting a uniquely curated, organisational experience. We can give brands a completely personalised experience and visuals. The revolution is when, in less than in 18 months, every major global brand will have a unique visual search catered to them.
©Ed Robertson.
What opportunities does EyeEm present for the photography community?  
We are a photography community and a really committed one at that. There’s great work to be seen and great talent that deserves new work. It is time to move beyond accepting status quos in terms of how photographers might be successful, going beyond the challenges of “big box stock” and challenging brands to take on highly-custom, highly-creative photography projects with our community.
We are always trying to give our community opportunities to showcase their work. We have our magazine which, in addition to the print edition, is being relaunched digitally. We also host our annual EyeEm Awards to discover new talent. This year we broke all previous records with more than 590,000 submissions from over 88,000 photographers. We present the winners at The EyeEm Festival, which also features a day of inspiring talks, workshops and panel discussions.
EyeEm was founded as a means to empower photographers? How does it do this?
From its beginning, EyeEm has been a place for anyone interested in photography to do more, create more, and learn more about photography. Every decision or product we make is done with a community-first mindset. We make sure that brands see the talent that needs to be seen and then put them in a position to work with that talent. The photo business model of the last 10 years has kept so many creative people out of the game.
Who is EyeEm aimed at?
EyeEm is for anyone who wants to connect with photography.
EyeEm has been described as democratising stock photography. What are your reflections on this?  
We’re happy to be opening up additional opportunities for photographers to succeed at what they love. A great thing about EyeEm is the ability for absolutely anyone to download the app for free and start uploading photos. Traditional stock platforms require a deep vetting process in order to submit photos. Our technology allows us to sort through a mass of images to review them (to flag property/model releases, keyword images etc.) This allows us to accept a larger volume of images, therefore allowing more people to submit to our Market and Missions.
A chef taking a cigarette break. © Orbitron.
A rusty Citroen 2CV in Hoxton, east London. © Uslan.
Hyde Park. © Richard Gray.
Postcode Postcards was an EyeEm Mission hosted by British Journal of PhotographyPlease click here for more information on partner content funding at British Journal of Photography.