ViewFind is a platform and bright future for photojournalism | Cult of Mac

ViewFind is a platform and bright future for photojournalism


Viewing beautiful photo stories on mobile never looked so good.
Viewing beautiful photo stories on mobile never looked so good.
Photo: ViewFind

That last few years have seen plenty of grief-stricken editors and photographers deliver eulogies about the craft of photojournalism. Others hang on hoping for changes in an industry that has seen massive layoffs and reduced pay for freelancers.

The team behind a startup platform called ViewFind, not only understands the pain of an entire industry, it’s trying to cancel the funeral.

As an iOS app, recognized by Apple as Best New App and Apps We Love, ViewFind beautifully showcases compelling picture essays from photographers all over the world.

There are familiar news themes such as child victims of war in Afghanistan or a family trying to survive on the minimum wage but also off-beat stories, such as pigeon racing in Shanghai and a beauty pageant where the contests are over the age of 60.

Yet behind the gorgeous display is a group of editors, designers, developers and entrepreneurs crafting a business model that aims to help photographers earn their living. ViewFind is negotiating syndication deals, sharing ad revenue and drumming up corporate clients wanting a photojournalist’s unique view on life and bring a human connection to a marketing campaign.

“One side provides a platform for these photojournalists with beautiful and well-researched stories that otherwise may only live on a photographer’s website or personal blog,” Chris Ames, ViewFind’s head writer told Cult of Mac. “On the other side, we connect corporate clients with photographers to bring their authentic storytelling to brand marketing.

“The best ads don’t feel like ads. They’re human stories and the story just happens to involve a product.”


Photographers have been using social media sites, like Instagram, to show work and bolster their professional brand. A few have been able to establish a sizable enough following and use that audience as a kind of chip to cash in on jobs. Still, an in-depth personal project won’t have much impact in a feed with your friends’ selfies, pet pictures, or well-plated meals. It may cultivate likes among your followers, but do little else.

It costs nothing for a photographer to submit a story to ViewFind, which, if accepted, gets properly sequenced by a skilled photo editor. Plus, Ames works directly with photographers to craft a written story to accompany pictures.

If a shooter wants to monetize their work, ViewFind offers them 70 percent of the licensing fees on syndicated stories and 50 percent of any ad revenue generated from a story. ViewFind recently awarded four grants for stories on race and ethnic identity.

In the year ViewFind has been operating, it has published more than 400 stories, grown a worldwide network of 3,000 photographers and has won bids for photographers to do work with big-name companies, including Intel, Lenovo, and Skullcandy.

British photographer Jonathan Browning acknowledges the difficulty of making a living as a photojournalist. He has spent much of his career based in Shanghai, hustling around Main China and East Asia on editorial assignments for publications like Der Spiegel, Times of London, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Yet, he too worries when he sees major outlets use cheap stock or grab photos off Flickr.

ViewFind gives him optimism that the industry will recover. He has published five stories with ViewFind, including one on pigeon racing in Shanghai, and says he sometimes gets work from someone who has seen his stories on the site. He has also received some corporate assignments arranged by ViewFind.

From a story by British photographer Jonathan Browning about Shanghai’s competitive beauty salons.
Photo: Jonathan Browning/ViewFind
Pigeon racing in Shanghai.
Photo: Jonathan Browning/ViewFind

“These have been great as they have been in keeping with the aesthetic and approach of my regular work,” Browning said. “I would love for more brands to appreciate the honest look and feel of photojournalism rather than always go for the clean cut airbrushed ad look.”

Pepsi may have learned this lesson the hard way after it produced a commercial with supermodel Kendall Jenner facing down a police line at a protest and quelling tensions by offering a cop a cola. The backlash was swift, especially among African Americans who felt the company had appropriated the Black Lives Matters movement and Pepsi pulled the ad.

Ames believes Pepsi would have scrapped the idea during the planning phase had there been the perspective of a photojournalist in the room.

ViewFind is a free to download and developers are working on a version for Android. View a desktop version here.


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