PhotoGenesis: Premium photography site nears beta

PhotoGenesis (of Boulder) is building a library of fine-art quality photography for distribution via the web.

I ran into the founder and President for PhotoGenesis, Josh Zemel, at a CTEK happy hour in Boulder recently. Josh has a deep background in and passion for photography. He told me that he founded the company in 2005 to “create a better way to market fine-art quality imagery online.”

I asked Josh what he felt PhotoGenesis could add to such a crowded space. There are many established players such as iStockPhoto, Fotolia, Corbis, and Getty Images, as well as many smaller and aggressive companies playing in this market. Josh quickly pointed out that PhotoGenesis is really targeting a very specific niche that none of the other players address well, in his opinion.

Josh explains: “Whereas other sites either aim to become one-stop shops for all types of customers or try to specifically attract the budget-minded buyers with price-point products, PhotoGenesis is building a lean, “no-filler” library of premium imagery geared toward the most discerning clients.”

PhotoGenesis also intends to take an innovative approach to artist relations and promotion. “Our eight or so promises to artists – which concern matters of accounting, contract terms, disclosure of information about sales, and more – have been very warmly received in the professional photographer community, and this is the backbone of how we’re able to build a truly premium library. This is not to mention that artists will receive much greater exposure on our site than they do on our competitors’… not only will our library size be leaner overall, but we’re also building a separate gallery for each of our artists, complete with animated Flash displays of their work”, Josh explained.

Josh also believes that PhotoGenesis will create a better mousetrap. He said “Our competitors sites are all keyword-searchable, ours will be both searchable and browsable – shoppers will be able to move through galleries of our images, organized by subject, by world region, and by artist. This will make the experience closer to that of moving through an actual art gallery, making the process of browsing for ideas more efficient.”

Josh has raised about $100k in funding to date and is currently looking for about $20k more immediately. One of the current investors is Texture Media (of Boulder). This tells me two things. First, Texture Media (and probably others like them) believe that there is a need for a service like PhotoGenesis. Second, we can expect the PhotoGenesis site to be well designed since we can assume Texture Media will be providing much of the site design.

PhotoGenesis is expected to release a prototype/beta version this fall. Josh told me that PhotoGenesis will plan to raise an additional $300k-$400k in a future round to take the product to the market.

file under: Blog, Startups