Founder interview

What is Exposure?
Quite simply, it’s rights-managed quality image library at royalty free prices. We have a flat-pricing system – all images are £250 + vat – so it’s completely transparent. And importantly for me, the majority of the profit from the sale of an image goes to the proprietor – the photographer, not us.

What made you start Exposure?
The initial idea happened 8 years ago when I wanted to sell my own images and make a bit of money on the side. That proved to be quite difficult – photo libraries can be hard to break in to. I’m also a designer and I would get frustrated about the quality of the affordable images on image libraries. It’s something all designers experience – you find a beautiful rights-managed image, which the client loves, but are forced to look for a cheaper alternative, which is nearly always impossible.

I also knew amazing amateur photographers taking great images but not doing anything with them, and professional photographers with incredible back catalogues that were gathering dust. It’s such a waste of high-quality content so I decided to do something with it.

Can the images on Exposure really be high quality when you feature amateur photographers as well as professionals?
We only feature exceptional amateurs on Exposure. Their images have got to be as good as the professional photographers’. And what I have found is some amateur photographers are as good as professional photographers but they just don’t know it. It’s a hard industry to crack and actually really hard to go pro so I set out to give talented amateurs the chance to get some exposure. This could be the start of something big for them or they may continue to do it as a hobby. Either way, they make money from images that would otherwise be lost on Instagram and we get access to great, original content.

Why would an established photographer put their images on Exposure?
Every photographer has images on their hard drive – from an out-of-licence shoot, a passion project or their personal collection – that don’t get used for commercial purposes. Exposure is an opportunity to make some money from these incredible shots that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day.

What images make it onto Exposure?
Well let’s start with what doesn’t make it on. There are no images that have been set-up for an image library: no businessmen shaking hands or glossy models brainstorming around a whiteboard – nothing that’s trying to act as a corporate metaphor. 

We live in a very visual world, the style and language is constantly changing. People want authenticity, real life and to feel connected. The images on Exposure have to feel natural, tell a great story and look beautiful.

This is why amateur photographers’ are good – they tend to take pictures of their lives so capture real moments and people, which is exactly what we’re looking for. It’s incredibly hard to do this with models.

On Exposure, all images cost £250. Couldn’t people make more money on other image libraries?
One of the reasons I started Exposure was to create a fairer deal for photographers.

When I researched image libraries with my own images, I was shocked by how much commission they took – for some up to 70%. It felt exploitative and unfair. At Exposure, we’ve flipped the traditional model on its head so the photographer gets the majority of the profit.

So, if we sell an image for £250 and another image library sells it for £500, the photographer should still make more money with us. And for us, that’s how it should be.

We also believe Photographers should get paid for their work.

Getting an image library off-the-ground is no easy task. How have you managed it with a young family too?
I started developing Exposure about 4 years ago while I was pregnant with our first child, which is pretty crazy now I think about it. I worked with a brilliant developer who helped me build a website that would work for both contributors and users. Once I had a prototype and a fully-fledged offer, I contacted several potential Contributors who I wanted to work with.  This was the first time I was saying out loud what I’d been planning all these years. Incidentally, all of them said ‘Yes’ straightaway. And this spurred me on.

I took a break when our first child was born but picked it up when I fell pregnant again with our second child. Maybe there’s something about being pregnant that makes me more creative!

I haven’t done this alone of course. I’ve been lucky to work with other talented mums I met whilst on maternity and I’ve exchanged creative services with business experts, copywriters and marketers. I’ve also got a kick-ass law firm onboard who have sorted all the legalities which are frankly beyond me.

What are your ambitions for Exposure?
To have a really diverse collective of the photographers who come from different places, cultures and backgrounds.

And to build a team that includes incredible mums and dads who want to work flexibility and use their skills without compromising family-life.

And to go global one day too, of course!