reto mag

about the land and the people

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The principle of give and take: The german start-up project “Photocircle”

July 25th, 2013 by Julia · 7 questions - 7 answers, berlin, germany, photography

© Photocircle


1. The german magazine “Wirtschaftswoche” called you one of the most exciting start-up projects in germany (issue 26/2013). What is exciting about you?

Thomas: Apart from the great photos from our photographers, I guess it’s mainly our concept. We pay a lot of money for stuff that costs almost nothing in the making and the people that produce our sneaker and t-shirts get buried under their factory buildings. I think more and more people question the way our economy works. We and more and more other social businesses show a new way of consumption. Instead of spending our money on Google and Facebook ads we support social projects. Our products are produced 100% in Germany under fair conditions. Our photographers can choose themselves how much they they would like to donate and keep for themselves. We also do marketing for them and created a platform where they can present their works to a broader public. We are also a new fundraising channel for our partner ngos. As to us….if everything works out, we can hopefully live from the earnings as well one day. So we created a win-win-situation for all parties involved. Our customers get high quality art prints at fair prices and the opportunity to do something good.

2. You established this project last year – am I right? What happened to you and your project since 2012 becoming that famous

Thomas: When we went online we issued our first ever press release which actually wasn’t really that professionel. The same day we got calls from “Der Standard”, “Gigaom” and several other big newspapers and blogs. We could even read about us on the blog of the wall street journal the next day. I guess, if we were just a normal photo platform, no one would probably be interested in us. But our innovative concept helped us a lot and made people talk about us.

Then, however, when the first buzz was over, it’s just been a lot of hard work. We have a lot of competition with a lot more money to spend on marketing then we have. So we continously have to find new ways to get the attention. In the end what counts is a good product, though. And that’s what we have: we offer great quality at fair prices and give the people the opportunity to make the world just a little bit better by choosing us over our competitors.

Another thing that kept us going and motivated in the past year was the support of our community. We have many photographers and customers that help and promote us in so many ways. Even some kind words can be incredibly supportive. Sometimes you just have a bad and everything seems so hard. Then you get a nice email from a customer or photographer, and the sun shines again.  

© Julia Dreier (


3. How did you realise buying photos of strangers in foreign countries isn’t fair, if they don’t get money back. I mean, the photographer profit by selling pictures, but the people on these pictures not. What happened to you, you want to change it? Was it a special moment on your travels? Or a conversation with a foreigner/ friend/ family?

Thomas: I’ve always had a strange feeling when taking photos from other people feeling like an intruder or something like that. When I got back from my latest travels in South-East-Asia I brought a few nice photos with me. Some friends of mine said, I should try and sell them on one of the photo platforms. So I checked them all out. None of them really convinced me. Not only did they pay very little to the photographer and kept the rest for themselves. They also had a very poor user experience. Worst of all though was that it just didn’t seem right to offer my work for sale on these websites. If people would really buy my photos they would probably do it because of the pretty landscapes or the people on the photos not because of me. I would be the only one to get credit for them though. The money would go mainly to the gallery.

I have this one photo from a young muay thai in Bangkok and the expression on his face just wouldn’t leave me alone. I really wanted to give back somehting to him. So I started thinking of ways how to do it. The idea of Photocircle, to support social projects in the region the picture was taken in, is our opinion the only feasible way to do this on a big scale. Still we can support only a limited amount of projects but hopefully, if we manage to spread our vision, one day we’ll be able to help development projects in most regions of the world.


4. You’ve got a lot of impressive photographs and photographer in your project already. Are you proud?

Thomas: Of course we are very proud that we can represent these great photographers. We’re honoured that they put so much trust in us. We’ve talked to quiet a few phtographers who actually wouldn’t want to sell their work anywhere else, but just on Photocircle because they like the conept. Considering that we’ve just started that’s a great achievement..

© Eric Lafforgue (


5. Which picture do you have on your mind thinking of photocircle? For me it’s this portrait of the little boy, wearing a helmet and he’s completely surrounded by colorful colours. It’s very impressive and he seems so lucky and open-minded.

Thomas: This is one of my favorite photos as well. I think that it represents very well our concept. Another photo I love is “a colorful life” from Rada Akbar, a female Afghan photographer. We are really proud to have her on board and incredibly happy that even photographers from Afghanistan use our website. I also really like the photos from Jakob Berr. He portrayed some fisherman in Bangladesh working for the ngo Netz which has become our partner. So if we sell one of his photos, the money goes back directly to the community he has been living and working in back then. That is exactly what Photocircle is about.

© Rada Akbar (

6. One of these impressive photographer in your project is me. :) I have six of my photographs available on your platform since january- and i didn’t sell any. What will happen to these pictures in one year, if noone is interested in? Will I get an email of you, writing:  “Dear Julia, I’m so sorry, but we couldn’t sell any of your pictures. We kicked you out of the project. Greetings from Berlin, Thomas”

Thomas: We would never do that to you Julia :-) Of course we still have quiet a few photographers that have not sold anything up to now. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t interested in them though. We are still at the very beginning of our project. Since our launch we have continiuously increased our sales and visits. So we are confident that you’ll sell some futures maybe even faster than you would expect.


7. How does the future of Photocircle look like? How should it be?

Thomas: We think that for people who want to print their own photos or buy high quality art prints from great photographers there is no reason not buy from us. We are even cheaper than the XXLs of the market and we simply offer more.

Of course we have a problem if no one knows about us :-) So we have to work hard to spread the word. This is hard with a very small marketing budget, but we are still optimistic that we can make ourselves a name in the market. Establishing ourselves in Germany is our first goal. However, we would also love to find some partners in the US for example.


Thanks to Berlin, to Photocircle, to Thomas& his team, living this start-up project. Go for it and get new pictures for your beautiful home and support Photocircle, the photographers and the projects:

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places – photo collages

April 2nd, 2013 by sophie · berlin, editorial, germany, photography, sightseeing

i did some photo collages of places of interest for a magazine project. here you can have a look at them! enjoy!


the ‘altes rathaus’ in bamberg, germany


the ‘brandenburger tor’ in berlin, germany


the ‘residenz’ in würzburg, germany


all collages by sophie daum

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some days in berlin

March 24th, 2013 by sophie · berlin, germany, photography, reportage

every now and then i spend a couple of days in berlin to visit my lovely friend julez and meet some other guys who moved there. even if i am not the person who feels completely comfortable in big cities, i love berlin. its always very inspiring and every time i come back home after a visit i feel energized and full of ideas.  berlin is kind of another country, its not typical german for sure. there are so many different nationalities around, wherever you go, you can always recognize people talking in foreign languages. it makes berlin a multicultural potpourri.

anyway, of course i took a lot of pictures during my visits. one time i shot with my canon A E-1 with a 50mm. i thought it would be nice, to show some analog photography on retomag. enjoy!