Have you ever wondered who curates the stock photography you see on your favourite digital assets websites?
A background in fashion photography might seem an unlikely qualification for someone involved in reviewing stock photography, but for Cecilia Ponto in the Envato Mexico office, it was the perfect pathway for her artistic passions.
“I came back to Mexico after three years of studying fashion photography in Madrid, so I needed a job here in Guadalajara. I originally sent my portfolio to apply for a photographer job but I ended up getting a role as a Content Reviewer instead. It’s been even better than the original photographer job as it’s given me an opportunity to see more photos and photographers, stay in touch with trends and keep this passion in my life.”
“The number of photos in the queue can fluctuate quite a lot depending on how frequently our community is submitting content; today we had 74,000 photos to review and yesterday we just had 2000. We analyze their technical aspects and aesthetics and their authenticity and commercial utility. Have you ever thought about the authenticity of food? We do!” laughs Cecilia.
While reviewing the queue is the key priority every day, the team is also responsible for working on reviewing the portfolios of potential new authors, as well as assisting with the outbound process of looking for new leads. On top of that, they work on the curation of collections for Envato Elements, highlighting some of the most authentic and outstanding photos available, while also doing a similar job on Twenty20 by Envato, from taking charge of the community challenges to curating the highly coveted Signature Collection as well.
“It’s impressive how different the content is depending on the authors. We get to see many different cultures, religions, places, food from all over the world, it’s incredible,” notes Cecilia. “Also seeing the immediate reaction of the authors to the latest trends like for example, the Pantone Color of the Year, as well as trends in sustainability and diversity, it feels like every day we’re one step closer to a more inclusive world and I think that’s great.”
Gaby Jalbert, Envato’s resident photo specialist, helps set the guidelines for what the review team needs to keep an eye out for. He says one of the biggest challenges is that what customers are asking for and what photographers are producing isn’t always aligned.
“Many customers want more authentic content with models that their own customers can relate to. Although the stock photo industry still sees plenty of super cliché, cheesy, stereotyped shots being purchased, it's not what we’re aiming for. Otherwise we’re just like any other stock photo site.”
“And while trends don’t change that much from year to year, the global coronavirus pandemic has created quite a peak in demand for content tagged as virus, hygiene, work from home, video conference, online education and the economy, to name a few”, notes Gaby.
“It’s often very challenging for many authors to be objective with their own work, and this isn’t just limited to Envato, which is why our role is important in showing them a good versus bad example, it helps to change that perception.”
Back in Guadalajara, Cecilia says her time as a photo reviewer has influenced her own photography.
“I do a lot of photography, but most of it is directed to the fashion industry, such as lookbooks, campaigns or editorials for fashion magazines. So alternating between fashion and stock and vice versa is great, it’s just refreshing for me. In the end, one of the most important parts, when I think about creativity, are the references and those you can find everywhere, you just have to spot them.”