Cloudflare TV

Creatives in Lockdown

Presented by Christina Hawatmeh, Val Vesa
Originally aired on 

Made Forbes 30-under-30 this year, Scopio provides authentic real, and diverse photos businesses can finally use and supports creators from over 150 countries by giving them a platform to license, promote and sell their images which are powerful beyond measure for decks, PowerPoints, books, presentations and more! Our guest today is Christina Hawatmeh, CEO of Scopio.


Transcript (Beta)

Hello everyone and welcome to Creatives in Lockdown, a segment on Cloudflare TV dedicated to all creatives and highlighting some of the opportunities that can be leveraged during the lockdown.

If you're watching this live, please feel free to email us at livestudio at to ask any questions related to today's topic and we'll make sure to try and respond to everyone live.

If you're watching this as a recording and have questions, please also email us and we'll make sure to get your question to our guest for a response.

Now I have to share with you that I have registered during the initial weeks of 2020 for a website called Scopio,, which proposed photographers and creatives with a new way of sharing their work and getting paid.

My guest for today is the actual CEO of Scopio and she's here to talk to us about the platform.

Christina, welcome to the show and please introduce yourself.

Thank you for having me. As you said, I'm the founder and CEO of Scopio.

That is an AI based photo marketplace that focuses on diversity and whose mission is to change representation on the Internet.

So if we're successful, every photo online will change to one that's more diverse and representative of the world that we live in versus the cheesy photo of the girl eating salad or the one of the fake boardroom because our world does not like that anymore.

So there's a big disconnect happening. And at the same time, people all over the world are looking for new sources of income, especially during COVID.

And Scopio is paying people in 150 countries now, getting them their first cameras, their first houses with over 3 million views in the past 30 days and more than 300,000 downloads on their images.

We made Forbes 30 under 30 this year and we're based in New York.

Thank you. I'm based in New York and it's been a very exciting journey because seven years ago, I actually started this idea by picking photos from Twitter of protests out.

So I was like stuck in a lot. I had an idea that all these images were so powerful.

Why couldn't I organize them for people to see them?

They just felt like they were getting swallowed by Twitter or by Instagram.

And that was during Arab Spring, the Venezuela protest, the beginning, not the beginnings, but part of Black Lives Matter movement.

And I wanted to be the one that helped you safely for history.

So I started to work on that and then realized, wow, the whole world is out there.

And finally, we have access to any place on the planet that we want to see images from.

So why are those just going to be stuck on Instagram, just stuck on social media?

So Scopio stands for scope it out.

And it acts like a fishing net for the world's images that we harness, tag title through AI, and then distribute to the whole world that needs content.

So that's how we started.

Actually, that was the first question I had. How did you actually come up with the idea?

But you've just, you just said. Yeah. And I met my business partner who is the chief of product.

And so we started to design products together, and they looked a lot different than what you're seeing today, which is a marketplace of more than 300 ,000 images.

At the time, we started by creating a search system on Instagram, where we would search by hashtags and Twitter.

And then we would auto message people for the rights for their images. So we started to build products together, working on the data side of things, visualizing how big these content pools were on these channels.

And then from there, we were able to go into what is people see today as Scopio.

So what year did you found Scopio?

So we started experimenting in 2014. And then Scopio was built in 2016.

Oh, nice. So it's like four or five years now. Yeah. How was 2020 for Scopio?

Oh, my God, it was like the year. It was so great. I mean, obviously, it's very sad.

And it was very difficult. It's very difficult for everybody around the world.

But from a dynamic shift, and perspective, it changed, like 100% into the direction that I have feel like I have been screaming at the top of my lungs for seven years now.

I've been saying we need more access to diverse images, we need more people's representation.

Finally, the world has come alert to it and realize, oh, wow, like my artist pool needs to be diversified, or I need to tell my story in a more engaging way.

And just like for an example, on Scopio's platform, we have people from all of we have 20,000 individuals and businesses, we have everyone from designers to journalists to teachers to healthcare professionals, therapists, dentists, like social media, of course, all literally anything you could priests, literally anything you can think of are on our platform, religious people, and searching for images, these are people looking for images, because they need to tell their story in a more compelling way.

And they need to actually use real images and real people to do that.

So that's what they come to Scopio for, because they want to, they don't want to cheapen their message by providing something that isn't representative of what they're actually trying to tell.

I see.

And then that's the big shift, I feel like that happened that Scopio had to catch up to.

So we had to literally work nonstop day and night to build a product that matched this new demand.

So then who's already putting photos on Scopio? So you told us who is searching or who is actually getting photos there?

Yeah. Are there usual photographers?

Are they just like every, you know, me, you, like average people?

Or do they have to be some sort of special, you know, quality photographers?

You know, it's so weird, because some people use their, they say their identity is a photographer.

Others say their identity is an artist. Others say their identity is a content creator.

So it's like it spans, it spans through people that are a work in architecture to people that are developers, to professional full time photographers.

So the idea with Scopio is that anyone around the world can make money if their photo is valuable.

So it's not necessarily on are you the best photographer in the world?

It's does your photo convey something? And we're able to do that because we use AI to really process the images and help us out so that we don't need to go through each person.

Because there's we have 13,000 people now from 150 countries.

We grow by up to 15,000 images a day. So we're judging you based off of the photo and, and building up your page that way.

So that way, you know, if you're a mom and your child, like this, what, like, every person has a friend who is a mom that says, how good is this photo of my kid, like everyone around the world.

So that was and they always are like, and then the next step would be okay, here, let me share this beautiful moment with the rest of the world to use.

Yeah, talk about talk about the AI and the technology side of the site, if you want more.

I know we had some conversation before the show. And I think it's really exciting for those, you know, in the tech business or the tech world to listen more about that.

Yeah, I mean, building products and building product is the most exciting thing in the world.

It's one of the most challenging things in the world, building and scaling from what we had zero to multiple pivots to what we got to where we are, is has is such a journey.

Everybody knows that service.

I mean, obviously, services like Cloudflare become like essential to your business where you don't think about it, but then it does, it does become important.

So I realized there's, there's such especially for people that are starting, there's so many language barriers in technology, like security systems, or, you know, storage, or just things that people don't know about.

And then as you go in years and years of building products, you then you start to understand the, all the acronyms, what people are talking about, where, you know, what they all mean.

And I realized now, the more I get into it, the more there's a huge separation between society and what they know.

And, and think about it, they're using, we're using products all day.

Like I was thinking about reCAPTCHA, which is Google's like, where you select the photos if you're locked out.

And I was like, these photos suck, but they chose this app.

And, and it could, it could, it's a part of my life, like I have to use it maybe five, six, five to 10 times a month.

So people think, oh, tech is so far away from me. But in reality, these services and products are literally spending our life on earth using them.

So it's important to know how they work and not be afraid of that.

But I think the language is, there's a huge language barrier there for people.

So AI technology, how much or how, how many of the photographers, you know, putting content on Scopio actually understand technology or do they have to understand technology?

Or what do you do? You just upload your photo and then it gets found. Do you get a lot of requests for specific like niched photos or, because we're talking lockdowns, right?

And creative's in lockdown. If you're in lockdown, if you're inside, what sort of content can you generate and, you know, hopefully get it published on Scopio?

A lot of the work, work from home images are really hard to find.

Again, if you think we've just experienced a massive cultural shift, the image banks have not yet caught up to that.

So if you can produce what it's like for kids at home learning, people working from home, even like things like elderly people dealing with the pandemic, there's all these missing gaps of our society that are not available for us to use unless you want to go and spend like $1,000 on a photo.

And then it's still, again, most likely a model. So I think capturing whatever's happening around you, your family eating dinner together.

These are real people.

These are not models. These are real people, real families. This is, yeah, Val taking a photo of his family and then submitting that on Scopio.

Or say you're in an area that's interesting, that content, when it's posted on Scopio or when it's posted anywhere, if we can accurately know where that is, think of all the local businesses around you.

Think of all the publications around you. These people cannot tell your story.

They cannot accurately depict anything without access to images.

And how are they supposed to crowdsource that information? You know, they might have a few friends that they can ask for their mobile photography from.

But think about it as like showing your immediate environment and letting people give access to that.

Because an image can actually last for, like, let's say three to five years.

So even if you have a photo of a bench of two men playing chess, you know, in two years, that could be relevant or could be relevant.

You never know what matters or what doesn't really matter, even if it's something basic.

Like, I remember I sold like a photo of a sunset that was just like any other sunset.

But that one happened to sell for, what, a thousand dollars versus an even better sunset photo that I thought that, you know, sold for like ten dollars.

So you never know what you have.

What was the difference? Now you have to tell us and tell the audience.

It's the eye. It's the buyer's eye. And usually the location of what they need.

So if they need something in that place, that's the first step. The second, so you need to make sure you have that information.

But the second step is, like creatives in lockdown, beauty is subjective.

So at the end of the day, so everyone needs different things.

And a lot of people need just now volumes of content.

They need to have a lot of content to work with and play with and use for their decks, presentations, PowerPoints, social media, flyers for their businesses.

Can you maybe even share some of the stats or, you know, whatever you can share with us, like what are the keywords that people search for most in 2020 or what sort of content could photographers get ready to, you know, make more of, produce more of?

I don't, I don't see 2021 changing so much, you know, around Corona stuff.

So most likely these trends will still go on this year as well. Yeah, the trends are going to stay in terms of people realizing that social media is not social media.

Social media is the current state of the world and that the way to sell your way, again, whether you're a small business or whether you're like a teacher or a pastor or whatever, you're, you need to start utilizing the Internet to like, as your avenue, your main avenue of communication.

So that's, what's not going to change, especially now because the main issue was people learn, like the people were always nervous to order food through an app or like use some of these services, but now their kids help them set it up.

They're using it. They're more spending more time and they're more used to the products.

So I think now that you're used to used to creating a deck as a teacher, you're not going to go back.

You know how to do that now.

So we took that time to learn and accelerate our online experiences.

But it's actually interesting. So, I mean, I play a very, I feel like a very important role in social events.

I always want people to know what's happening around the world.

And with Scopio, we're encouraging more of an editorial style.

Like when you submit, tell us what happened in that story. And we don't edit that.

So we keep it really raw for you so that people can actually really read, instead of reading it as if it's like a stock photo, they're going to read it as if they're like, just reading it from that person that submitted it.

So it's still English right now.

Right. Or do you have it in multiple languages? We actually published it in whatever language people submit and also the content they end for the description.

That's what shows up on the site. So far. Yeah. We haven't figured out what else to do with that.

But right now we have that content there because we don't, we again want to leave the context for the person looking at the image.

And it actually causes problems because even some of the people put enter their names in their language.

So we have a lot of Japanese photographers and they actually are written in Japanese characters.

So it's kind of hard to search for them.

But we're working on globalizing like the platform. And I'm really excited about that because I have my master's in international affairs from Columbia.

And I'm, I always thought like, you know, I'm going to be a world leader in politics.

So I feel like it's exciting for me to work with all these different languages.

So for example, we're now adding six more languages to the contributor portal.

When you log in, you see your views, your stats, your downloads, your payment, you can pay out through PayPal.

And then we have perks. Right now we have perks running with VSCO.

They're looking for who scopiest photographers are to feature them.

We have a deal running with Shopify.

We have a deal for book publisher. We're actually running our own book, which you should definitely participate in taking best photos of 2020.

And it's going to be everywhere. It's going to be like on Amazon.

You can buy it for the next five years. So, so there's a lot of perks in there that people can then submit to and they can see.

So this will, this will be now in six different languages, like Russian, French, Portuguese, Arabic, and Spanish.

We'll be adding. And hopefully if anybody, if anybody is the language expert message me, I'd love to add another language, but I want to do it for my friends or people I know instead of a company.

So if everyone watching live for everybody watching this as a recording, if you want to help and you know, you find that is not in your language, please reach out to Christina.

I have a question, Christina, that just came up.

Let me, let me read it really quick. Viewer question.

Can you, can you talk about Scopio's approach to licensing? Many people don't properly license their images.

And I'm wondering if you found there's an opportunity in offering a straightforward approach that expands the market while also improving diversity, which you just spoke about in the images people are using.

That's from Jason. Sorry. Jason, that's a great question, Jason.

So licensing is like such a difficult topic because I mean, you have music licensing, you have photo licensing, you have a video licensing.

So there's all sorts of licensing and the way that they break it out is the usage, like how long you could use it or where you could use it for.

We made the subscriptions on our website, one license.

So if you are a subscriber on our website, then you have any plans start at $29 a month.

You basically get the rights to use that image for the majority of purposes, except for harmful ones.

So, so that has completely simplified the terms for you.

And that again, is something that, that a lot of people go to free photo websites because they don't want the headache of it.

But in reality that you're risking your business or you're risking yourself because like, say I'm a photographer and I go to a free photo website and I take a photo of my boyfriend and then me and my boyfriend break up.

And then, then Adidas uses my photo.

Then my boyfriend sues Adidas for using the photo without permission because I never got the permission from him.

So he had technically, it was permissed when we were together, but now we're not together anymore.

So therefore that relationship is severed.

And therefore that company does have, does not have the right to use that image anymore.

So then they have to go back and take it off their blog or whatever.

And it's just, that's, that's the issue. And then the photographer gets all of the liability too.

So like the free photo websites are putting that on the photographer.

So the photographers can get sued. So that's what going and licensing, proper licensing, how Scopio does.

But again, we use very short forms, like a model release takes less than two minutes.

You just send it and they add their email and information.

And then we hold that and we'll label it as a commercial. If we don't have the model release, we'll go and label that as editorial use.

But there's a big blur now.

A lot of people are using editorial for commercial. So it's really like the main issue is in the brands and the logos, like the Adidas, Nike kind of logo that you want to make sure people are not using for commercial use, but people are trying to tell stories, which is more editorial.

Like you want to talk about Black Lives Matter, but that's an editorial type of image.

You're not using like a fake protest photo to do that.

So you just have to... But if you do take a photo of a protest, like you're on the street and you take a photo, you submit that to Scopio.

From who do you need to take a model release from? Like everyone in the scene, everyone in the frame?

Technically for commercial, yes. But the issue is many of them will be wearing clothes that have logos in them.

So even if you do that, it might not be...

Unless you edit them out. Some of our photographers, they do a black bar against the eyes so that they become unrecognizable, in which case you can use that commercially.

But if you're taking, say, a closeup of somebody like me screaming like this, then you just need my photo and you can blur...

You need my permission, you can blur everyone else out.

But if you can't get that permission, again, you can still submit it anywhere, but it will just be marked as editorial.

And then if Val wants to use that on Cloudflare as blog article, then he can do that, but he just needs to be talking about that subject.

He can't go and, say, misrepresent that information to his user base.

And that's where... So you're not... Yeah. But you can definitely use an editorial image to talk about that subject, but you just don't want to twist it or manipulate it.

And you mentioned about videos. Can you share more... If I understand correctly...

Well, I'm not a videographer, but I know you can upload photography.

You can also upload videos on the site. What else? No. On the website, you can upload illustrations, vectors, and...

So basically, all stills and photography.

But we do have interesting illustrations and artwork. We have ones of the American election, and those are amazing.

So people can use those. But we do actually, when you submit, we ask you if you're a videographer.

And then usually, say we work with...

Let's say we're working with Samsung or a tech company, and they want a diverse artist in video.

We will say, okay, we have three artists in Nigeria that have video skills.

We can reach out to them. So we actually constantly use our database of where artists are for businesses that are asking about that subject.

So we like to have as much information about you as possible. Or say they want somebody that's really good at one type of photography.

We'll go in and we'll search that.

And then we'll say, we give them the list of who these people are, and then they'll go out and maybe do a custom shoot with them.

So you do have an opportunity to sell your images on the site.

But also, if a specific customer of Scopio looks for some, like you said, some photographer in Nigeria, or some other country, or somebody that only shoots food, or micro photography, then you can also sort of surface that artist and say, oh, by the way, you can also collab, because we use that word with this person, right?

Exactly. So our goal is to basically democratize the space in between all these artists around the world, and some of these big companies.

While we have very small individuals on our platform using Scopio, we do have like the American Medical Association, we have NASA, we have Marriott, Airbnb, some of these really big companies, and they often are stuck because they can't find people.

They just say, oh, they're not there. So we're bringing the visibility of these people to them in a way that they can actually get things done, and not have to sit on social media, or they might not even know how to access these people.

So that's how we connect that. Going back to 2020 stats, what were the most searched words on Scopio, if you can share with us?

Like what do people search for during lockdown?

Okay, this is, I got distracted, but this is what I think is the most interesting when I was researching this question.

So the things that people search for and view are much different than the things that they download.

Okay, tell us more. Okay, so we have like, so we have, let's say 5 million different searches, okay?

They're searching for current events, they're searching for astrophotography, they look at beautiful images, they're looking at things that are artistically creative.

This is how I think it goes. So they go through this artistic, really fun experience, which is, that's why I see like Scopio more of like a Pinterest, because again, it's a lot of the stuff you're seeing on Instagram, they're more current pictures.

So people are looking through those types of photos.

And especially if anything is in our collections or the homepage.

But then when they're downloading, they're downloading really practical stuff.

So they're downloading business photos, images of women working is the most downloaded photo, top five downloaded photos on our website are women working, typing on their phone.

Like, it's like just me sitting here, like my hands on the laptop, that would be like a bestseller photo.

So the businessy, yeah, the businessy type photos are bestsellers all year round.

Now with healthcare, healthcare started to become popular.

So there's images of like, white coats or doctors.

The more simple actually always usually do get more volume. So something where people can see somebody else in the frame.

So they can imagine themselves in that scenario.

I think psychologically, they can imagine that it's them.

So if they if that person is not like, so obvious, and does it count so much if it's a photo taken with their phone or with an actual camera?

Or would you say that quality in that respect has any influence on the search and on what they download?

So we have a few partnerships, one was like Adobe, where they're very focused on quality.

Now, if you want to sell that photo for like $2 ,000, then you need to have a great quality image, you need to make sure that technically speaking, it's great.

And it's not over. The biggest issue I see is that people over edit their photos.

So if you're taking a nice photo, don't don't over edit it.

That's, that's going to be the most difficult part. But if you want to sell that image to like, again, getting images or an Adobe, it has to be perfect quality.

But we've been disproving that because our top I'd say out of our top 20, maybe eight of them are mobile photography.

And again, that's interesting.

Yeah. And I mean, think about it. But it's all of the again, all these other stock houses are like, it's not good enough, whatever.

But if you look at free photo, if you look at free photo websites, the resolution is actually pretty small.

So so for the free photo websites, you're usually getting the photographer's low resolution picture.

But Sculpey obviously gives you the full resolution one. But yeah, mobile photos, especially of architecture, you know, mobile photos do really great.

Like if you get a certain part of the building, you can do a super angular one, and it's easier to get the whole building.

It's more about patterns and backgrounds for photos.

So if you're doing an email, and you just want a cool kind of background, or if you want to write text on it, architecture pictures do really well for that.

Because people are kind of sick of sunsets. So this is the this is the providing tips part of the segment.

Yeah. What what even if you put it on Instagram, like if you're just not selling them, if you do some patterns, like from buildings, or you're showing people, especially your city, in a new different way, people really like that.

Because they associate like, oh, like, that's how it's what is that something symmetry, like tennis courts from above.

People love those pictures.

Like drone photography, is it? Is it, you know, high demand now or drone photography, usually have like castles, it's really cool, or like glaciers or things like that.

Drone is very good for video. If you're trying to sell video for drone, there's some websites that you can list those on.

And you can probably make by again, you can put those on social media.

And those will do really well, too.

Because there's now, yeah, there's all sorts of things you can do with video now.

Tell us where, okay, this is February 4 2021. If we're going to have the same shown in one year, what do you think the website and the whole, you know, product business is going to be?

Should we put it on my calendar? Let's see.

So my goal is to get to 5 million images this year, we're at 350,000. And I want to be like the one of the world's biggest websites for imagery and provide images to every corner.

If you're in Korea, you should be able to find photos of Korea.

If you're in Nigeria, you should be able to find photos in Nigeria. And I want the world to be able to use their own content instead of going consistently to the Western world for their content.

That's my dream. And so that's on the photographer side.

Obviously, I want to pay thousands of creatives and start getting them revenue.

Everything I do, I really try to get people paid. It's small, we're still just trying to make sure that we can get artists paid because the more they're successful, the more their societies will be successful, the more the world will benefit from that.

So I think that's my goal for the year. So then we have to get back here in one year and see how this played out.

Because most likely you're going to do amazing things.

So I see you have a lot of energy. I think my team does.

I have a great team that supports me. So we're like 10 seconds out. But thank you so much, Christina, for accepting our invitation.

Hopefully, we have to do this again, because I see we have questions coming in.

And yeah, I'm going to forward some of those to you.

And again, thank you for being here with us. Thanks.

And everyone, you can follow us on Scopio Images on Instagram. And we have a YouTube channel, a podcast called The Authentic Photographer, where you can learn from artists and get tips from them.

The website is Bye, everyone. Thank you.