Update #10: A Year Like a Rollercoaster – 2023 was a Journey of Change, Impact, and Innovation

aurel_blog_rund by Aurel Vogel, December 2023

As I look back on the past year at Fairpicture, the image of a rollercoaster ride comes to my mind - a year filled with exhilarating highs and difficult lows. Since my last update in July 2022 we’ve grown the team and then reduced it again. We’ve had the worst and the best monthly revenues (luckily the latter being in the last quarter). And we had very difficult weeks as a team followed by a connection and positive vibe I had never experienced before.

Throughout this ride Fairpicture has matured significantly. We've become a more stable, reliable, yet dynamic force in the market, constantly pushing boundaries and exploring new territories. As the new year kicks off, I'm excited to dive into the main areas of our operation, share some of the progress we made last year and give you a glimpse into what lies ahead.

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Silvia (fictitious name) in the psychotherapist section, in the SEPAMOS foundation, which cares for girls, boys and adolescents who are victims of sexual violence.  
From one of many assignments in which we demonstrated together with Wara, a photographer of our network from Bolivia, how visual communication for ethical fundraising should look like. [read full case study]

Photo: Wara Vargas / Eirene / Fairpicture

Operations
Expanding Our Portfolio and Impact

Custom Content Production: Impactful Storytelling

Let’s start with the stories: In the past year, we've successfully completed almost 100 productions in 40 countries, each different in its scope and complexity. They range from simple yet wonderful photo shoots to extensive multinational video projects. If you’d like to have a look at some of our work, visit the stories section on our website. My personal highlights include the visually stunning photo and video project in Peru for Alce Nero, the personal, emotional yet privacy-respecting photos from a project about victims of violence in Bolivia for Eirene, and the impressive and dignified visual stories from Syria following the February 2023 earthquake for Franziskaner helfen. Our operations circle, notably Daniela, Anna, and Daniel, have been the backbone of these successful productions, tirelessly facilitating and supporting our clients and creators. 

Consulting: Successful Market Entry

After our successful consulting assignment with the Swiss International Development Agency, we officially launched the consulting arm of Fairpicture in Spring 2023, where we are offering quick reviews and workshops for organisations like Welthungerhilfe and the German bilateral organisation GIZ. A current standout assignment is with the Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation, where we're crafting new ethical communication guidelines. 

In January 2024, we are launching a new series of online training courses focusing on ethical communication. While the initial sessions are fully booked, we encourage those interested to explore upcoming dates and opportunities at Fairpicture's online training.

Misa, Jörg, and Noah have been at the forefront of our consulting circle. Collaborating with industry experts, they have successfully supported 15 clients over the past year, demonstrating our commitment to expanding and deepening our consultancy impact.

Marketing/Communications
Overcoming and Accelerating

Our journey in the marketing and sales circle has seen both setbacks and triumphs too. An initial collaboration with a lead generation agency didn't pan out as expected, but it prompted us to streamline our sales processes effectively. Since March, with N'Deane's tireless effort, our "growth engine" has been gaining significant momentum. Our FairTalk panel discussions on ethical fundraising, authenticity in AI, and decolonisation communication gained substantial interest. Check out these discussions on our YouTube channel. I’d also like to give a special nod to Alex, who set up our account management processes one year ago. The model is still working thanks to her profound work!

Recording from our last FairTalk on Authenticity of Images in Times of AI.

Impact
Seeing the Change

Our impact is rooted deeply in our theory of change, and it's visible in everything from the intimate, dignified images we produce to the positive responses from our community of clients and creators. A testament to this impact is a quote from photographer Farzana Akthar a couple of weeks ago:

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It has been an absolute pleasure working with Fairpicture. Your appreciation means a lot to me, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our shared goals.

Farzana Akthar, Visual Creator, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Our impact extends to our client community, apparent by the 40-100 participants in our FairTalks, where we raise awareness on ethical communication and tackle new challenges like the ethical use of AI-generated photos and videos. 

Additionally, our impact for the people photographed is illustrated by the smooth operation of our Consent App in our content productions, which facilitates low-barrier genuine informed consent gathering in more than 20 languages (with more to come) and includes a photographic consent option.

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Creator Community
Nurturing Global Connections

Our creator community now includes more than 180 members from over 80 countries, capable of both photography and high-end video productions. This year, we've again seen a big improvement, especially in the video sector and in the coverage of more remote locations. Our recent network expansion in the Global North  is a sign of an increased demand for ethical content production in these regions. Our community managers, Rosa, Tendai, and Morena, along with Pamela and Daniela, have been crucial in coaching our network, identifying gaps, and developing new community projects.

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Me visiting our coder team in Cairo for the very first time.

From left to right: Yasime, Ziyad, Fahed and Hazem who joined our team in late 2023.

Development
Tech and Organisational Evolution

Technical Development

Our technical advancements have been significant, marked by the release of a portfolio section featuring over 140 portfolios last December, the migration of the first version of our platform to a new technology in April, the integration of a help center, and the validation (and eventual termination) of a business model for selling fair stock photography called FairStock. The public version of our FairConsent app is now also available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

Last but not least, we made a big step by insourcing the software development, gradually taking over the projects from Smartfactory to our new development team in Cairo powered by Remotecoders

Big kudos to Amelie and Lara for the platform migration. It was huge work and done with a lot of care and patience. Welcome Hazem, Ziyad, Yasmine and Fahed from Cairo to Fairpicture. You're only in our team for a couple of months and already you're having a profound impact.

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Mock-ups of the Fairpicture Consent app – now in place for all projects with Fairpicture.

FairConsent app

Learn more

Streamline your informed consent collection in photo and video productions - paper free and ethically thanks to 20+ languages, audio consents and photo confirmation options.

Get it for iOS

Organisational Development

You may have noticed that the word "circle" appears several times in this blog post. This is due to our organisational model. Our shift to a self-organised, circle-based organisational model, introduced in my previous update, has been a transformative journey. After a very demanding change process in spring, this model has now facilitated the smooth integration of our community managers and internal software team into our structure. 

Completing the final piece of Fairpicture's organisational model, we elected a new board of directors last summer. This board, characterised by strong personalities, diversity and competence, truly reflects what Fairpicture stands for. I’d like to extend a heartfelt welcome once again to Eugenia, Jörg, Medinat, Essi, and Martina, and to express my appreciation for their support and dedication to Fairpicture's mission and values.

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As we connect the dots of our past to the present, we find ourselves well-positioned for the next phase of our rollercoaster journey.

Aurel Vogel, Co-Founder Fairpicture

Finances
Riding the Financial Waves

The financial aspect of our journey has been a rollercoaster in itself. Thanks to Jörg’s tireless effort, we successfully closed a funding round in Autumn 2022 which was followed by a financially challenging period in Winter and Spring 2023 and resulted in substantial cost-cutting and team reductions. A successful bridge finance in Summer 2023, coupled with a steady revenue stream since then, has led us to a stable financial situation now. 

Looking forward, we are seeking new investors for our final funding round in Spring 2024, with high hopes for the FairConsent app and a changing market that calls for authentic and ethical content production.

The Path Forward
Connecting and Growing

As we connect the dots of our past to the present, we find ourselves well-positioned for the next phase of our rollercoaster journey. With a clear vision and continued motivation, we are ready take the next steps:

  • Expansion Plans: In 2024, we're targeting growth into the US nonprofit sector and exploring working with the Fairtrade food market. 
  • FairConsent App: We aim to validate new audiences for the FairConsent app, leveraging its potential in diverse markets.
  • Platform Enhancements: Expect profound changes and increased speed on our platform, enhancing co-creation capabilities for photo and video productions. 
  • Ethical application of image AI tools: Our last FairTalk was the first step into this new realm with many expressing an interest in receiving consulting support to develop organisation policy on AI application. Stay posted for more on this topic!
  • In-Depth Consulting: We're set to conduct comprehensive consulting projects with international nonprofits.
  • Community Mentoring: Plans are in place to launch a new mentoring program for our expanding community of creators.

Join us on this journey as we continue to push the boundaries of ethical and sustainable visual storytelling. Stay tuned for more updates and explore how you can be part of our mission in creating a more fair and connected world.

And if you haven’t: Subscribe to our newsletter and join us on LinkedIn to remain updated about what comes next!

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Leave us a message or schedule a meeting with someone from our team. Join us in making fairness in photography and ethical storytelling the new normal!

Contact us

Selected blog posts

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BLOG

February 2023 - Jörg Arnold

More than just a question of perspective. Why development needs different images

Development work is under fire. Voices from the Global South are now increasingly being heard in the Global North. But: Which images do we show?

WATER FOR LIFE PROJECT in Burundi
BLOG

November 2022 - Jörg Arnold

A Zebra’s Board

As a zebra startup establishing our Board of Directors is a particularly unique process.

210308_Fairtrade_Germany_Ghana_Fairpicture_200
BLOG

March 2024 - Aurel Vogel

Informed consent: Why an app is better than paper forms

Collecting informed consent for photo and video productions is faster and more secure when using a mobile app instead of paper forms.

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