Adriana Teresa and Graham Letorney, Founders of Visura.co (Photo: Lucie Foundation /Splashlight)
Check out this video which was part of an interview by Resource Magazine taken in 2010 at the New York Photo Festival. You can get a sense of what Visura Founders were thinking of at the time. It is good to see where they were then, and how the platform has evolved since—to get a better understanding of what Visura.co is today.
RESOURCE interviews Visura Founders for the 2010 New York Photo Festival. Check out their story.
the visura media blog
Nov 2, 2018
The challenges many visual storytellers face are real and concerning even when taking to account a shifting industry. Many of these were not publicly talked about for many years. This has changed thanks to social media. However, we need to further work on solutions. At Visura.co—the team works to bring media professionals and organizations together. Furthermore, the team works to redefine the business of buying and selling professional visual content today, so that more professional visual storytellers worldwide can make a sustainable living in a trillion dollar industry. Before Visura.co came to be the technology platform that it is today—a lot happened.
BACK IN THE DAY (2007-2010)
Two aspiring photographers Adriana Teresa and Graham Letorney were scrambling to find direction and paid opportunities in the media industry. It took time—but the journey inspired them to join forces and eventually launch Visura.co.
For Visura founder Adriana Teresa, it was particularly hard to find paid opportunities. An aspiring Hispanic photographer and writer- Adriana had no idea that the challenges she was facing in part were related to her gender or Hispanic background. Recently moved from Puerto Rico to the US to pursue a career in visual storytelling and journalism—Adriana had no idea how difficult it was for women photographers and journalists in general to have access to paid opportunities and how the challenges were even greater if you were Hispanic or an aspiring photographer or journalist of color or how many talented visual storytellers and journalists were not making a sustainable living in the industry.
Reality hit hard. These challenges have nothing to do with talent.
Access to the right people and organizations that offer direction and paid opportunities is limited. Access is even more difficult for women, LGBT, Hispanics or photographers of color or of any diverse cultural backgrounds, as well as for any aspiring visual storyteller who did not have a way to survive years of unpaid work. The reality was and remains that many talented professionals in our industry struggle to access paid opportunities and a result many cannot make a sustainable living- and this is a real problem that needs to be addressed.
For years, Adriana worked exhaustively for free, like many others, while she completed a degree in photography at The School of Visual Arts. She interned at Harper's Bazaar, Rolling Stone Magazine, Bruce Silverstein Gallery; and later on, after graduating, she contributed as a guest writer to The New York Times Lens Blog and The Huffington Post—all of which were great opportunities but none of them paid the bills. She also curated several exhibitions, and for years submitted to several grants with the hopes that she could work on her projects but none of it worked out. At first, she thought the problem was her. She concluded that she was missing something—possibly an even higher education, recognitions, awards, more experience, a website, a better network, specialized workshops or certificates, etc—but all of these opportunities came with further costs, greater debts, and little return in comparison to the amount of time and money she was investing in trying to access and get paid opportunities.
By the age of 27, she had quickly learned and recognized that she had two options: leave, settle or try to come up with an alternative solution. As the economy continued to drop and under immense pressure, Adriana decided to attempt to address the problems. With the support of her family and an international community—she embarked on a mission to fail forward to solve a tiered problem that only escalated.
She was never alone.
Graham Letorney also recognized the problems and shared the belief in the importance of developing better access to quality and diverse content in the media industry. Graham completed degrees in Business and Economics, and later on in photojournalism. Since the age of fourteen, he taught himself how to code and design. He had interned at Magnum Photo Agency and NPR. He went on to initiate and curate a column titled 100 Words: Photographers' Speak in NPR for three years. In 2007, Graham met Adriana at powerHouse Arena. One year later—they joined forces and embarked on a journey that would take them to what they call "failing forward" for years.
Together, they launched several projects under the FotoVisura Inc umbrella. All were incredible learning experiences and attempts to tackle the challenges our industry faced, but they were all failures, primarily because they lacked a viable sustainable business model and they addressed some but not all of the complex problems both wanted to solve. It took years of failing forward, a leap of absence, and a hunch that they had to start from scratch again before they launched their next alternativa solution idea.
Failing forward: A timeline
THE EARLY DAYS
2008 to 2013 - Visura Magazine http://www.visuramagazine.com/ An online publication dedicated to featuring personal projects by photographers worldwide. The publication ended in 2013 because they did not favor the advertising revenue business model as the best solution for both the company to be sustainable and visual storytellers to make a sustainable living.
The FotoVisura Pavilion was a physical exhibition space featuring international photographers and guest curators, portfolio reviews, workshops and talks. The Pavilion was produced at The New York Photo Festival from 2008-2011. Although the Pavilion is no longer an active space—Adriana Teresa continues to produce and sponsor exhibitions worldwide through Visura.co.
The FotoVisura Web Platform was an online self-publishing networking platform for professional photographers worldwide. The membership platform also offered a career development program with an annual grant for photographers, a series of editing workshops led by professional photo editors and a residency program for photojournalists in Vermont.
Forward and Onward
By 2015, both Adriana and Graham felt strongly that the costs and time that media professionals were investing in having an online presence to access direction and paid opportunities was extraordinary especially when the return in job opportunities and revenue was limited. The industry continued facing challenges: more media outlets were reducing editorial departments and full time staff photographers. With a growing freelance community of photographers and editors and an increase in demand in the need to access quality content for online publishing—guaranteeing quality and diverse content and talent was crucial for the media industry.
So, together, Adriana and Graham turned to the internet once again and embarked on a journey to identify, design and build key software tools, resources and services in one central place. From Stowe, Vermont—Adriana envisioned a new platform, which was then architected by Graham with the support of John Connolly. The result was Visura.co.
On January, 2016, Visura.co officially launched with the support of The Vermont Center for Emerging Technology, Robertson Realty and The Viso-Lazardi Family.
A platform to build websites, connect with professional visual storytellers and editors worldwide, and share news with media professionals and a public at large. The new alternative hybrid and multi-tiered platform ultimately works to increase the quality and diversity of visual storytelling online today without jeopardizing the value of the content itself so that more professional visual storytellers worldwide can access paid opportunities and make a sustainable living.
The Visura platform offers visual storytellers and editors a place to design their websites, safely manage their work, and share their news with media professionals and a public at large. Additionally, the platform serves as a place for media outlets, small business and nonprofit organizations searching for quality and diverse content and talent as a central repository to discover and connect with professional visual storytellers and editors worldwide and share news, features and opportunities.
The goal is to reduce the amount of time and/or money individuals and organizations invest in having an online presence in order to connect, manage content, transact and share news. The key remains to identify, design and offer solutions that protect the value of the professional visual content being uploaded to the internet so that more professional visual storytellers can make a sustainable living.
Our Business model
The platform follows the Software as a service (SaaS) model only that we do not work with third-party providers. All of our applications are built proprietary by Visura. We work to identify, build and design applications, resources and services for our members that will vary depending on the account and member type. Primarily our members are visual storytellers (photographers, filmmakers and illustrators), writers, photo editors, other visual content buyers or an organization. Ultimately, the goal is to redefine how individuals and organizations connect online efficiently and effectively without breaking their banks or jeopardizing the value or diversity of the professional visual content uploaded to the internet.
Through the Visura platform, individuals and organizations can design their website or have the Visura Design team build your website. Each site becomes part of a private professional database that is searchable. Visura members include visual storytellers, media professionals and organizations like media outlets, non-profit organizations, brands, and other organizations. All can connect privately using a message system. Through the platform, members can manage their content with privacy settings to protect their work and information, as well as share news, features and opportunities with a public at large through Visura's Community Feed.
Envision a hybrid between Squarespace, Linkedin and Medium for professional visual storytellers, media professionals, media outlets, non-profit organizations, brands, and small businesses.
Now consider that Visura does not charge the visual storyteller a finder’s fee for any transaction that results from the network.
The Visura team continues to further develop its mission, offering and goals. Since 2016, it has launched a Career Development Program using it's internal open call management system to launch grants, scholarships, educational and career opportunities. Most recently, The Washington Post launched its second Open Call for Photographers worldwide. Additionally, Adriana Teresa went on to become co-founder of The Scout Film Festival— an annual international event in Stowe, Vermont that celebrates teenage and emerging filmmakers through short film. Founded by Anna Colavito—SCOUT recently launched two open calls to filmmakers aged 24 and under for an opportunity to receive a grant sponsored by Jurassic World's Director Colin Trevorrow.
Most recently, the Visura team is working with a curated selection of nonprofits and small businesses to design their website using the Visura platform, connect with visual storytellers and media professionals, and share their news.
In the future, we will continue to optimize our applications and services to empower the education, environment, and health industries.
No one person acts alone. A big thank you to all those who have contributed to Visura, especially every Visura member, David Bradbury, Joaquin Viso, Geoff Robertson, Scott Thode, Jim Watson, and John Connolly.
Please, reach out if you have any questions or would like to learn more. firstname.lastname@example.org