Emphas.is takes off: $15,000 raised in first week
Emphas.is, the crowd funding platform for photojournalism, finally went live last week after some technical delays.
The results so far are encouraging: in just a few days time more than $15,000 has been raised for the nine projects that we chose to launch with.
Among the most successful projects are Aaron Huey’s Pine Ridge Billboard Project ($4,800), Besieged by Elliott, Kurzen, Ang & Dherbeys ($3,155), 21st Century Communism – Laos by Tomas Van Houtryve ($2,256) and The Story of the Uyghur by Carolyn Drake ($1,930).
Of course the real test will be if these projects reach 100% funding, but $15,000 in just a few days says to us, Yes, people are willing to pay for quality photojournalism.
In theory, participating photojournalists are supposed to leave on assignment only if and when they have reached 100% funding.
At least one photojournalist, Tomas Van Houtryve, was too impatient to wait.
Tomas had certain time restrictions and obligations that made it important for him to get to Laos now, even though he has only reached 25% funding.
He has also opened up his ‘making of’ zone to his early backers and he has already started posting text and pictures there.
We’re calling it an introductory bonus: join Tomas now for $10 or more and get an early glimpse at what backers will get by putting their trust in photojournalists on Emphas.is.
“I arrived at the border of Laos and Thailand along the Mekong river. At the Golden Triangle, there are boats that cross the river straight into the Special Economic Zone, but from my research I had learned that Westerners were barred from entry at this point. I decided to try my luck at another border crossing. I made it through, and then I hired the motor rickshaw, locally known as a tuk-tuk, to drive toward the Special Economic Zone.”
“Once inside the tuk-tuk driver pointed out rows and rows of bananas. ‘Not for Laos,’ he said. ‘It’s a Chinese plantation, and the bananas are exported to China.’ It reminded me of when I had lived in Central America (…) The analogy was eerily fitting. The large northern neighbor, an economic superpower, had carved out a zone of influence in a small and impoverished country to the south. The plumb deals being made were sure to benefit the banana company and provide lower prices for consumers, but how would the local population make out?”
Meanwhile, Emphas.is has been written up in several leading publications around the world, including The New York Times, Le Monde and NRC Handelsblad in The Netherlands.
The New York Times summed up the platform as follows:
“On Emphas.is, contributors will subscribe to a project and receive updates from photographers in the field, as if they were able to Skype with Eugene Smith while he photographed Minamata. They can ask questions of the photographers as they work and see previews of the projects.”
It went on to point out that Emphas.is is not the first of its kind:
“Many photographers have successfully raised money on Kickstarter. But Mr. Ben Khelifa said Emphas.is would go beyond the Kickstarter model by providing a more active and intimate relationship between viewers and photographers; a relationship in tune with an era of social media.”
As our baby takes its first steps in the real world, we would like to remind you that Emphas.is is still in a beta version. This means that website development is ongoing and new features will be rolled out as the work progresses.
Thank you for your support.