DINZ Partner Interview - Truestock

We recently sat down with Tanmay Desai one of the co-founders of Truestock. A new stock image library looking to connect New Zealand photographers with customers looking for images that reflect a true, kiwi aesthetic. It also aims to do this fairly with their contributors front and centre in the business model. We spoke to the entrepreneur to find out more.

Former Designworks’ design director Tanmay Desai launched Truestock in March 2021 by inviting contributing photographers to gather insights from customers about the types images they couldn’t find when hoping to reflect Aotearoa.

According to Tanmay, the business has since had applications to join Truestock by photographers from across the country and with a mixture of styles and backgrounds.

With a bespoke IT platform ready, the company launched its library in September and has unveiled a fairly unique business model to support it. Truestock provides royalty-free imagery, has a 50% commission structure and pays models out of their own pocket, after each shoot rather than after image sales. The business is in the final stages of becoming a New Zealand cooperative which means that all contributors own a share in the business, and have a say in its direction and a share of its profits.

According to Tanmay, they currently have over 50 photographers across New Zealand with more being added all the time:

"We've got great talent in New Zealand,” says Tanmay, “and we've got a good demand for images that authentically reflect New Zealand, why not actually create something that connects the demand with the supply and launch it as a co-operative? The idea is also to be more ethical and have the photographers get a bit of skin in the game.”

Tanmay, whose previous design role saw him work in branding projects for some of the country’s most recognisable corporates, explains how, through a validation campaign, Truestock has had expressions of interest from design, advertising, production and media agencies as well as marketing departments from medium to large organisations and government departments.

One of his goals is “to have a fair, cultural representation of how diverse New Zealand is,” says the Indian-born Tanmay. “You should be able to see yourself or a person you can relate to in stock imagery or images used in the press or marketing. It’s something that inspires you, or makes you more comfortable and makes you realise that you are accepted in this multicultural society.”

As an example, he says there is an increase in requests for imagery of Māori in leadership roles.

As to how he envisages Truestock in a few years’ time?

“The pinnacle would be having created something that becomes a household name for representing the true face of a diverse and beautiful New Zealand. To creating a better standard for valuing the content creators, valuing photographers from all walks of life and connecting them with the wider ecosystem of New Zealand businesses and beyond.”

Tanmay Desai, Co-founder Truestock

DINZ Interviews

When the opportunity arises, DINZ interviews leading designers from here and overseas. These interviews seek to dig beneath the surface to address the common and uncommon challenges, problems and opportunities the design community faces.