Hi. I’m the founder of Photocrati Media, a digital media company in Boulder CO that provides products and services for photographers.
I walked an unusual path to get to this spot. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Marquette University’s School of Business in 1998. After working for two years as a project manager at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management in Washington DC, I pursued graduate study. That was a long journey that resulted in two Masters degrees in Applied Economics (2002) and Political Science (2004), and then a PhD in Political Science (2008). During that time, I was also a two-time Fulbright Scholar to Indonesia. While in Indonesia, my research focused on economic development and natural resource management.
I took a hiatus from graduate study to work as photojournalist covering humanitarian, environmental, and cultural stories in Indonesia for OnAsia, a leading provider of Asian editorial imagery based in Singapore and Bangkok, and for HDNet, a leading provider of high definition television in the United States. I covered diverse stories including orangutan rehabilitation in Sumatra, Komodo dragons, illegal logging in Borneo, Bromo Tengger National Park, the life of a Mentawai shaman clan in Siberut, the Baliem Festival in Papua, the Pasola festival in Sumba, the eruption of Mount Merapi in Java, protests and floods in Jakarta, and dozens of other stories. Credits and clients included Asian Geographic, the BBC, Conde Naste Traveler, the Indonesian Department of Forestry, the Sydney Herald, Reader’s Digest, the University of Wisconsin, the Wall Street Journal, Yale University, and many others.
I returned to the United States in 2007, and completed my PhD in 2008. Academia proved too esoteric for me. Looking for something with more impact, I joined the United States Foreign Service (diplomatic corps / US State Dept) and was slated to the be the US Economic Officer in the Republic of Congo. I continue to have a great degree of respect for the US State Department, and especially for the 139th Foreign Service Officer class. But the environment and emphasis there did not fit with my own vision. So, after a very brief tenure, I left to start Photocrati Media (initially called Frontier Digital Media) in 2009. Not coincidentally, starting my own company also allowed me to move to Colorado, the best place in the world to live.
We are a digital media company focused on supporting photographers.
PHOTOCRATI. Photocrati was our original product and it is now one of the most popular WordPress photography themes, trusted by over 18,000 photographers. This website is based on a Photocrati Theme.
NEXTGEN GALLERY. IN 2012, Photocrati acquired NextGEN Gallery, one of the most popular WordPress plugins of all times. NextGEN has been download over 2 million times since we bought it last year, and no has over 7.2 million total downloads. We’re working on a major update to NextGEN Gallery and a “Pro” version that offers beautiful new display types and ecommerce.
PHOTOGRAPHERS SEO COMMUNITY. We run the Photographers SEO Community, the only SEO community just for photographers. SEO is one of my strong suits. I love the art of SEO, but I also believe that SEO has transformative power for businesses in the digital age. Great SEO can make a business. Through the Community, we offer tools that can help our photographer-members dominate search rankings, including SEO books, video workshops, and the only link exchange and SEO forum just for photographers.
BEST OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY. We founded and now sponsor Best of Wedding Photography, an invitation-only membership site for the world’s top wedding photographers. We also consider this one of our semi-philanthropic initiatives (see below). The goal of the association is to recognize and promote excellence in the field of wedding photography.
Photocrati Media is also distinctive as a project in what I like to call philanthropic capitalism. Our goal is to give back – not just to the photography community, but to important humanitarian and environmental causes more generally. Yet we believe the best way to do that is by building a company with solid fundamentals focused on growth and profitability. By doing well financially, we can do more good in the world. And by doing good in the world, we also believe we’ll do well financially. This is part of the DNA of our company.
In fact, I believe we are part of a broader, very positive shift taking place in modern society. In advanced industrial countries today, even in the face of the current serious recession, we experience a standard of living unimaginable 100 years ago (compare today’s medicine, plumbing, grocery stores, restaurants, home, etc to those of Little House on the Prarie, set in the late 19th century). As our societies reach a point where all basic material needs are met, companies and individual are increasingly free to pursue altruistic motives. Of course, not all do. But if you look at the explosion of non-profit organizations in the late 20th century, consider capitalists-turned-philanthropists from Carnegie to Gates, and look at the range of social and environmental initiatives that are pursued today by both large and small companies, it’s clear that many do. For more on this, read this nice article on Philanthrocapitalism by the Economist.
Our first philanthropic undertaking is the Photocrati Fund which offers $5000 grants to photographers to undertake important humanitarian and environmental photography projects. We’re proud to partner with some of the best known environmental and cultural photographers in the world, including Steve McCurry, Nick Nichols, and Art Wolfe, who together serve as board members and judges responsible for deciding the winner of the grant competition. We announced the first annual Photocrati Fund winner at this year’s LookBetween Festival in Charlottesville, VA.
Beyond photography, we plan to focus most of our giving on smaller but established NGOs that have a record of success in their fields. We already support Health in Harmony, which partners with local communities in West Kalimantan, Indonesia to integrate high-quality, affordable health care with strategies to protect the threatened rain forests of Gunung Palung National Park. This year (2011), we are also supporting Water for People, which focuses on the development of locally sustainable drinking water resources, sanitation facilities and health and hygiene education programs.
So that’s the scoop. Thanks for visiting!