French Bay sunrise by David Prentice

Many factors go into creating a photograph, yet few people look beyond aesthetics when sourcing visual content. Short-term, failing to consider everyone and everything involved in the production of an image hinders the opportunity to make the stock photo industry more sustainable. Long-term, failing to make the industry more sustainable limits its potential to grow and evolve – which ultimately results in dull photos, underappreciated photographers, and dissatisfied image users.

Broccoli seedling hand nurture by Damon Marshall

"We believe in building strong, fair, mutually beneficial relationships with the people we work with," says Matthias Nebel, co-founder and Director of Strategy, IT & Communication at thinkstep-anz, a sustainability firm operating across Australia and New Zealand. “We would like to see the photography services we use paid for fairly too, and to build long-term relationships with photographers."

Sustainability, the backbone of thinkstep-anz, has been a recurring theme throughout Matthias' life: from his final high school project on photovoltaic systems to his years as the Chief Editor of a German radio station. Part of thinkstep-anz’s sustainable approach is to be mindful of the environment; the other is caring about the people they connect with.

"Barbara [thinkstep-anz co-founder and CEO] and I wanted to work with like-minded people – people who want to change things! And we wanted to show people that sustainability makes great business sense so that they’d push for change too. We now work with a growing number of clients who understand that doing the right thing by people and the planet is good for their business too. And they share my view that change is about more than doing less bad. It’s about doing good."

Mount Hopeless and Travers Valley by Peter Laurenson

Storytelling is a big part of thinkstep-anz's projects, and as advocates of Plain English communication, using high-quality photos in presentations, reports, and blogs allows the team to get an idea across in an engaging way while saving a few words. However, according to Matthias, finding impactful and authentic photos that aren’t overused can be tough. And since they take sustainability seriously, sourcing images becomes a much more scrupulous and challenging process.

"We want to walk the talk in all parts of our business – and that includes with the photography we use," highlights Matthias. "Businesses like ours want to know that the photographers are getting a fair deal, that we’re supporting local experts, and that they understand our business and part of the world. And we want a flexible approach that lets us commission photos and gain exclusive rights to use them.”

Even so, building sustainable connections with photographers can be tricky. When asked about the key to making these relationships work, Matthias emphasises: Communication. "We need to be clear about the types of photos we want and how we plan to use them," he explains. "And we need to listen to the experts – the photographers – about what makes for a great photo. That way, everyone wins."

"We know that, by working with Excio, we’re ‘doing the right thing’ – and that’s important to a sustainability firm," concludes Matthias. "We understand Excio’s relationship (and ours) with photographers. We know Excio (and thinkstep-anz) are supporting local photographers who will be rewarded when Excio (and we!) succeed. We’re big fans of the ‘shared economy’. It’s built on relationships."

Scroll through Excio's Photographers page to learn more about the hands and hearts behind our beautiful photos.

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