I’m an avid photographer. It’s something about capturing images and freezing that memory forever that inspires me everyday. The past few years have seen photography erupt into an uber popular hobby. Cameras are now relatively cheaper; smartphones takes pictures far better and crispier than the ones your granddad used to take with his Polaroid or Konica. Professional and semi Professional SLR cameras are becoming affordable, and come with a plethora of online tutorials alongwith interesting techniques to produce unique images with a different look and feel. Youtube is flooded with dedicated channels as well. As has been the case with other devices, once the capability to churn out richer content, at a higher frequency is achieved; there is always a demand for bandwidth to display it all.
In addition to the Getty Images, Instagrams, istockphotos of the world, which appeal to a slightly Global audience, there have been a bunch of initiatives in the world of social networking that have been focusing on the Middle East and how its imagery is displayed. The key thing is that a majority of these have been initiated and are being led by Hobbyist photographers and not entities. The output however is being utilized by corporations in some cases, and helping semi-professional photographers to promote their portfolios at no cost whatsoever.
This user-generated content is put out on display for Facebook and twitter audiences to ‘like’, ‘comment’ or ‘retweet’, and has displayed elements of going viral in some cases. An added advantage is that with content being User-generated, the contributors tend to self promote them selves, which creates word of mouth and the very much needed Viral factor.
Organizations, Marketers, and corporations should be smart enough to move in and capture this opportunity. It provides them with unique, fresh and innovative content at a fraction of the cost. Last year, HSBC partnered up with an online initiative “” photography project and utilized the images for their Online Greeting cards. Two other interesting online initiatives are and The Gulf Photo Plus , which has an online platform for customers to choose photos from individual photographers and get them printed. Besides the benefit of crowd sourcing fresh and unique content, I’m sure this was a very efficient method for them from a cost perspective.
For other avid photographers, other sites to check out are Arabian Eye and Saudiaramcoworld which are the Middle East specific image archives.