cbuzz Episode 15: David Sherry, Death to the Stock Photo

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Bringing you the best stories from Columbus business owners, cbuzz is presented by the Columbus Chamber in collaboration with the Columbus Dispatch and CD1025. Our host, local comedian Dan Swartwout, talks with entrepreneurs every other week in Columbus’ first business-focused podcast.

Photos are more than just a space-filler. Successful companies utilize photography as a medium of expression – a way to illustrate the company’s mission. For most, this objective is easier said than done, and peace of mind seems too-commonly elusive.

There’s nothing quite like a good-looking website. However, obtaining affordable and relevant high-quality photos can be frustratingly difficult. And for a photographer, getting funding to pursue these creative projects is often the biggest obstacle.

That’s where Death to the Stock Photo comes in.

Created by Ohio State University alumni David Sherry and Allie Lehman, Death to the Stock Photo is dedicated to providing thousands of high quality images for those in need. Whether it’s a facelift, a new marketing scheme or a brand new project, Death to the Stock Photo brings together creativity, personality and exceptional taste to the stock photo market.

“Photography is just an amazing way to tell a message, share a story, and if you’re trying to communicate online, it’s just kind of a skill that you have to have,” Sherry said in an interview on cbuzz.

Death to the Stock Photo is not your Average Joe of a stock photo company, taking banal pictures for cookie-cutter websites. Yes, the company offers free photos to the site’s subscribers, in addition to unlimited photo access to members of the company’s premium plan. But that’s half the story.

”What we try to do is to really simplify the process and give people essentially photos that run similar to a creative commons license.”

The vision behind the idea formulated while Sherry still attended school at The Ohio State University. As an Economics major with an eye for entrepreneurship, Sherry served as Vice President of the school’s Business Builders Club, booking weekly speakers willing to dish out advice for the next generation of creative thinkers.

“I think the real development in school for me was kind of finding that club [and] finding your people,” Sherry said.

From there, what was vision turned to fruition. Fresh out of school, Sherry worked as a one-man content machine for a variety of start-ups before realizing an exploitable market.

“Through this process…I kind of started to notice this trend,” Sherry recalled, “and I kind of started noticing that brands were having a really hard time keeping up with all these (social) networks, and the problem I saw was ‘how do you stay relevant when there’s six different networks to be on?’”

Then came Allie Lehman. A talented photographer, Lehman mixed perfectly with Sherry, the self-described manager. In what started out as an online depot of categorically-organized images, the duo’s creation attracted a dedicated—and quickly-expanding—following.

Within six months of the company’s launch, Death to the Stock Photo had 20,000 subscribers. From there, another idea—one could say a pivoting moment—took shape.

“We started formulating this idea (based on) the idea that people like following us, our content. [I thought to myself] ‘I’m sure if we brought some other photographers and creative people in, it’ll be the same thing.’ So in August [of 2014], we started this thing called the Full Circle Initiative, which basically means that every month we fund a new photographer’s creative project.”

From there, photographers get to live out their side projects, often an opportunity to reenergize and contribute something new and different to the growing database of images.

In the end, it’s not just a mutual relationship benefitting two partners. In the end, the subscriber is just as integral to the project as anyone.

For Sherry, it’s about cutting through the red tape and all the other hassles that come with licensing photos. Combining that with Lehman’s photography, and together they found themselves with a simple platform capable of sharing high quality images.

“We’re trying to share, we’re trying to build a community and we’re trying to produce better art,” Sherry said. “It’s really just a win for everybody. Our community knows they’re supporting artists, artists get to go pursue these projects they want to do and great content gets created through that.”



Published on:
January 20, 2016

Dan Swartwout, Host; David Sherry, Death to the Stock Photo

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