Claire Bonnor and Kassandra Hunt are the founders of Austockphoto: the first 100% Australian, 100% royalty free stock photography library, described by some as a “game changer” for the industry. The library is a source for local Aussie imagery that feels familiar and authentic, structured to ensure photographers are paid fairly for their work.
Tell us a little about your business and why you started it …
Eleven years prior to launching Austockphoto, we founded Sydney design agency Boheem, in 2004. Throughout our years as designers we would regularly find ourselves trawling the pages of international stock libraries, a process we found increasingly frustrating, as our clients’ demand for true-to-life Australian photography grew.
What began as a nagging frustration soon became glaringly obvious: it was almost impossible to find stock photography that truly reflected Australian life. Sure, there were images of kangaroos and Aussie flags, but that stuff is for tourists. Where were the everyday moments, the familiar faces, the bright skies, the beach, the bush?
Australian brands have been trying to share Australian stories with their Australian audiences using off-shore photography for way too long – something had to be done!
Kass, tell us a little about yourself and why you made the move to the New England region.
As our design business reached its 10th year, I was juggling managing clients, staff and Sydney life with the demands of a young family, and I felt like I needed a (big) change. Less than 12 months later, Matt (my partner) and I had sold our house in Sydney’s Inner West, bought a caravan, packed-up the kids and hit the road, ready to embark on the iconic Australian “big lap”. We used our time on the road to meet with photographers from far and wide and spread the Austockphoto word.
Fast forward 10 months, and our adventure was cut short after our car engine “died”, leaving us stranded in regional Western Australia. After discovering it could be months before we were back on the road, we returned to Armidale, our hometown, to regroup and plan our next move. It turns out a tree change was the answer, and for now we’re here to stay, enjoying life back in the New England!
Claire Bonnor and Kassandra Hunt
With such big names as Shutterstock and Getty Images in today’s world, what sets Austockphoto apart?
The international stock photo libraries curate their collections without really understanding what everyday life in Australia looks like. These images are often popular clichés directed more towards tourists and our export market. The Australia that we know and love is uniquely diverse, with much more culture, history and depth.
The library is 100% curated by us. Working as designers for over 15 years, we are essentially our own end customer; this gives us pretty good insight into what local clients are looking for!
We also have a personal connection between Australian businesses and our photographers, something which the larger international libraries are unable to offer.
We hear that you recently won a huge accolade – tell us about it!
We were recently voted the Coolest Startup Company in Australia by Anthill Magazine! Austockphoto has been built by the hard work and dedication of our small team and of course, the 200+ enormously talented photographers who contribute to the collection.
It was very encouraging to everyone involved to receive such a “cool” award and official recognition.
What has been the biggest challenge starting up a business like this?
There have been endless challenges growing Austockphoto to where it is today. Technical challenges with the development and ongoing maintenance of the website, logistical challenges managing so many photographers and images, time and financial challenges.
The biggest task ahead of us now is convincing Australian designers, marketing managers, creatives and businesses to look beyond the big name libraries and support our collection. We believe a change in trends to “buy local” will benefit not only local photographers, but the wider Australian creative industry.
Do you only have Australian photographers as your contributors?
Our criteria is that the images need to be shot in Australia. Permanent residents and people who visit Australia regularly are welcome to apply; what we really hope for is for all contributors to be an engaged member of our community and make a point of uploading new images on a fairly regular basis.
What’s next for Austockphoto?
We have an endless list of grand plans! We’re still on a mission to add more and more engaging and beautiful content to the library, so that visitors to the site will have plenty of options to choose from. We are aware that the demand for video is increasing, and intend to add video sometime in the near future. There are so many fantastic opportunities for Austockphoto to grow and for Australian brands to benefit; the great southern sky’s the limit!
If someone wants to get involved, what do they need to do?
Interested photographers can head to: austockphoto.com.au/calling-photographers and fill out the form to share your portfolio of work with us. We love hearing from new people and review applications every three months.