In 2016, photographer Josiane Faubert decided to transition away from shooting and enrolled at Georgetown in Washington D.C. to study social media management. She had mostly left the art form behind her for this new path, but that came to a halt when her brother asked her for help sourcing images for his recruiting company in Libreville, Gabon, on the coast of Central Africa.
Searching stock agencies, Faubert discovered plenty of images of gazelles striding through rolling plains, aid workers feeding children and people huddled in huts. But those photographs weren’t representative of the Africa that she and her brother knew—the contemporary, urban Africa, connected to the global culture and economy.
“We wanted photographs of people you would see in a city, engaging in everyday activity,” she says. “It was really hard to find. The options were either too artistically [inclined], which didn’t fall into what I was doing, or they focused on the stereotypical poverty, safari or international development.”
Sensing a gap in the stock photo marketplace, Faubert decided to fill the niche herself. That year she founded PICHA—which means “image” in Swahili—a specialized stock library of photographs made in Africa. PICHA has representatives in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, and while they’re looking to expand, they’re being careful about maintaining a focused library that values quality over quantity. It’s one of the reasons that Faubert chose to work with Adobe Stock to host PICHA’s catalog.
“What I liked about my interaction with Adobe is they’re taking our hands and they’re allowing us to grow at the pace that works for us,” she explains. Part of PICHA’s expansion has been to look beyond the great continent to the African Diaspora, recognizing the potential for stock agencies to diversify their libraries. “PICHA has been growing every year and will continue to grow as we are also starting to educate more and more of our contributors about our mission,” Faubert says.
The partnership with Adobe has helped facilitate PICHA’s reach with new photographers. When meeting with contributors in Nairobi, for example, having Adobe as a partner helped legitimize the work that PICHA is doing, Faubert explains. “They recognize Adobe as a key player in our industry.”
The partnership has also helped expand PICHA’s reach to a wider audience, provoking more important conversations about the contemporary culture of Africa. For example, when showing PICHA’s photographs recently to a potential client, he was confused by some of the imagery. He was particularly vexed by certain black-and-white architectural images from Cape Town. “You’re saying these are images of Africa?,” she remembers him asking, “But this one looks like New York!” It’s exactly the kind of conversation she wants to stoke, and a sign that her work is already bearing fruit.
“When I go back home [to Gabon], I go to restaurants, I go to the beach, there’s street food, there’s restaurants, people go to movies,” she says. “That’s how we’re trying to portray it. Things that you will see in the city, people going to work, people looking like you.”
Faubert relies on Adobe to take the hassle out of running the business side of a Stock agency too, which allows her to focus on PICHA’s larger mission. The fact that Adobe makes it easy to accept e-signatures, for instance, lets her quickly get release forms from people without access to a scanner, and the integration with Adobe Creative Cloud tools like Photoshop and Lightroom make for a seamless experience.
But more significant than the technology is the people behind Adobe that make the work worthwhile, and what ultimately makes PICHA feel at home with Adobe Stock, Faubert says. “We’re a niche agency driven by a social purpose, and we’re very careful in how we develop our stock library. With Adobe, they’re supporting our vision and our mission, and I love that type of partnership.”
—Sponsored by Adobe Stock