Inside Look: FairMail Helps Global Youth Become Commercial Photographers

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Inside Look: FairMail Helps Global Youth Become Commercial Photographers Inside Look: FairMail Helps Global Youth Become Commercial Photographers
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Inside Look: FairMail Helps Global Youth Become Commercial Photographers

by Rosie Spinks

September 15, 2012

“Who would have thought kids [would be] able to take such good pictures that can compete in the global photography market?” den Hond said. “But they all take to it quite quickly just as all teenagers get the hang of electronic gadgets easily.”

In each location—selected to offer “different cultural backgrounds” throughout their image catalogue—the business partners with local NGOs and youth projects which work with at-risk youth to provide well-rounded support. They then loan out a camera to each teenager and have them sign a contract in which they agree to pay off broken or lost cameras with their earnings if necessary.

FairMail sells the images to publishing houses who licence them everywhere from stock photography websites to on-demand print shops. The progress of each individual photographer can be tracked on FairMail’s website, and each product sold also includes a picture of the photographer on the back, as a reminder of their story. Sales are tracked and money is dispersed each quarter to the photographers for their sold work. Some of FairMail’s top earners have reached more than $10,000 in their careers.

“There are big income differences between the teenagers, depending on their talent, motivation and effort,” den Hond said. “We want to show the kids that they can control their destiny by working for it.”

Den Hond is proud of FairMail’s recent recognition as a leading model of social enterprise and he thinks the idea that businesses can find fixes for social problems needs further understanding.

“Our teenagers don't need pity,” he said. “They need customers who buy their product just because they love their pictures. After that it is great if they come back for more because they also love the story behind each of the cards.”

Top photo courtesy of Luis Gómez Rodríguez / FairMail. Bottom image courtesy of Floor Broekman / FairMail

Rosie Spinks More Info

In addition to GOOD, Rosie's work has appeared in the Guardian, Slate, Outside Magazine, Sierra Magazine, Marie Claire, Talking Points Memo and others. Born to British parents in LA, she lives as a #technomad.
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