Benji Lanyado

Benji Lanyado of Picfair

London start-up Picfair raises £1.5m

The online photo market place has raised £1.5m from a funding round led by the Claverley Group.

Ex-journalist turned entrepreneur Benji Lanyado launched Picfair back in 2013 in a bid to help more photographers get their work published.

Historically, image licensing agencies have excluded amateur photographers from the market, and have taken the vast majority of royalties away from the photographers.

Picfair is now helping reverse this trend with its new online marketplace which helps photographers of any skill level sell their work.

Its image curation technology then sorts the images and allows any buyer to license them easily. Picfair simply adds 20% on top, which is where it generates its revenue.

Lanyado told BQ: “Prior to launching Picfair, I was a journalist writing for the Guardian and the New York Times.

“It used to really frustrate me that the images we had available to us were from strictly professional sources, and were often homogeneous and inauthentic, and ended up being used by all of our competitors.

“Meanwhile, a new generation of images were proliferating across social media - and the quality of this “amateur” stuff was increasing exponentially, powered by improving camera phones, cheaper DSLRs, and complex image editing software baked into mainstream apps like Instagram.

“I wanted to build something totally new, not only addressing this artificial constriction of supply, but also changing the horribly unfair royalty split that saw most of the money generated by images funneled away from the people who created them! I quit my job at the Guardian, learned how to code, and launched Picfair.”

The company has proved a huge success since its launch, and despite having to overcome a few technological issues along the way, now has over 25,000 photographers in 130 countries using its platform to sell their work.

This impressive growth has helped the company collate almost five million images, and having raised a further £1.5m in funding from investors including the Claverley Group, the company has bold ambitions for the future.

Lanyado added: “Our next phase is all about engaging publishers and businesses who license images. The demand side of the industry has dramatically widened over recent years with the advent of business publishing, social media, content marketing, branded content… and we want to introduce them to the dramatically widened supply side.

“We want to become the norm. We want to fundamentally change the way images are licensed, and create a global creative community of photographers and image buyers who believe in paying fairly for hard work and creativity.

“We don’t expect to replace Getty & Shutterstock overnight, but we want to gradually form a bigger and bigger part of their image licensing diet.”