Content Master: images of the people for the people

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Content Master is taking a different tack to other image curators around the world, by being dedicated to serving the Middle East audience.

The Middle East is witnessing an unprecedented surge in mobile phone users and applications, especially image sharing ones that make storytelling more inclusive and dynamic.

Jordanian Roula Al Khatib, who worked as a social networks analyst for more than five years at The Online Project, one of the region’s leading companies in online media strategies, is the founder of Content Master, a photo library that will target individuals, companies and brands searching for images.

She estimates that more than 30 million people in the Arab world use Instagram, but few companies are capitalizing on online content yet.

By photographer Mohammad Al Bada’i. (Images via Content Master)

Finding region-relevant images

During Khatib’s work at The Online Project, she often faced difficulty in finding MENA-relevant visuals for daily publications on social media. She was looking for vibrant and realistic photos of daily life in the Arab world that also reflected the spirit of the photographer, rather than the common stock images found online.

“We cared about the ordinary user who takes photos with his/her smartphone,” she said.

From photographer Yahya al Majid.

Khatib began brainstorming for a website or platform that allows users to share images with companies. This resulted in the idea to establish a website based on the principle of shared economy, made popular by companies like Uber and Airbnb.

Al Khatib resigned from The Online Project in 2016 to devote herself fully to her new project. Her team includes two Jordanian nationals: Ahmad Dohjoka, a cofounder and responsible for building a community of photographers, and developer Faris Issa as the site’s technical administrator.

It will allow users to upload their images and benefit by selling them directly to parties interested, or by selling the rights of use, a model similar to global image websites such as Getty or Shutterstock.

Professional or amateur photographers

Khatib is putting all her efforts into finalizing the website’s complete version for the launch in Jordan, scheduled for March. The platform will allow photographers to upload images directly from their phones or to take photos and upload them to the site.

“Photographers who use our website will get 50 percent of the profits, a rate much higher than what global image sales websites can offer,” Khatib said.

Content Master targets the Gulf market in particular, where there is a large number of advertising and digital media companies, and where companies are looking for unique Arabic content suitable for their clients. 

From photographer Abdurrahman Al Kendi.

Content Master's team feared attracting amateur photographers would alienate professionals and discourage them from joining.

But the irony is the opposite happened.

With the launch of the website’s account on Instagram and through communication with different groups of professional photographers from several Arab countries, it became clear their interest in sharing and promoting their works sometimes exceeded the desire for profit.

From photographer Husam Salem.

Content Master targets the Gulf market in particular, where there is a large number of advertising and digital media companies, and where companies are looking for unique Arabic content suitable for their clients.  

"Storytelling in the context of digital media campaigns in the region needs credible images produced by people from the region. The images will reflect us, our culture and our society,” Al Khatib said.

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