Right click for camera clubs
DIGITAL CHALLENGE PROFILE: Paul Geraghty and Christian Sommerauer, PicturkPhotography platform Picturk features in the first in a series of profiles of the shortlisted firms in ‘The Irish Times’ Digital Challenge
SOFTWARE DESIGNER Paul Geraghty and engineer Christian Sommerauer developed photography platform Picturk to solve the operational hassle of running photography contests online. The two also hope to create a vertical social network of keen amateur photographers through their website.
Clubs and companies can run online competitions using Picturk, get and give feedback, and keep an eye on the competition. The site also provides a forum for amateur photographers to engage with each other.
“We have 600 users on the site already. They sign up to enter photography contests and to create a club account for their camera groups so members can engage with each other and view each others work. We’re currently running two photography contests – the Canon Ireland Club Photographer Challenge and the Northern Ireland Photographic Association Interclub Challenge,” says Geraghty.
The site’s main target market is the huge international community of amateur camera clubs and photographers who regularly organise or enter photographic contests.
“There are roughly 200,000 camera clubs around the world and more than 170 contests are held each year, attracting thousands of entries. The Picturk platform can accommodate up to 17 million users.
“Running photography contests used to be a logistical nightmare. People would email or send photos in and then those photos would have to be organised and sent to the judges. With Picturk, photos can be easily uploaded for the judges to view and score.”
Geraghty previously ran his own company specialising in website design before going on to work in consultancy.
“I had four to five people employed and then the dotcom crash happened and our money supply was turned off. We ended up winding down the company over a nine-month period and I got into consultancy for a number of companies.”
Sommerauer completed a Master’s in Electrical Engineering and IT before going on to work for 15 years in the IT industry.
The two met while studying for an MBA at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School in 2005, but it was 2010 before they teamed up again to develop the Picturk idea at the National Digital Research Centre.
“I was working in communications consultancy following my MBA and it was there I discovered the massive community of amateur photographers in Ireland. There are approximately 24,000 keen and amateur photographers here,” says Geraghty.
“Having hung out at camera club meetings, I discovered photography competitions were one of their main anchors and social connectors but there was no software to accommodate it.” Thus the idea for Picturk was born.
Following a stint at the NDRC launch pad, the company won a place on the Propeller programme at the DCU Ryan Academy, which included an investment of €30,000. The two then entered The Irish Times Digital Challenge “as we thought it was a great fit”.
“We can help The Irish Times engage with a new audience and get access to high-quality photos. We want to run a photography contest in conjunction with the newspaper, whereby a catalogue/magazine of the best photographs would be published at the end. The Irish Times will also gain indirectly from the contest through advertising revenue from the magazine.”
How does the Picturk site make money?
“We make money from advertising on our website and we also provide a number of services for photographers such as camera equipment and gadget insurance, printing services, entry to competitions. We’ve also partnered with One Vision so people can sell their prints through our website.”
Geraghty and Sommerauer have also come up with an educational solution for photography students and lecturers.
“We ended up customising our software to make an educational solution for photography courses. Students could upload weekly assignments/images and the lecturers could view them all at the same time and grade them.
“It removed the traditional operational hazards lecturers had whereby the lecturer had to sift through emails of the students’ work.”
Photography students at DCU School of Journalism were the first to use the software.