I believe that images, as well as the subjects in them, deserve to be respected. Attention to detail should be maintained no matter what the channel is. Quality should not be reserved only for gallery walls. And the issue is not only about aesthetic aspects. It is also a matter of journalistic integrity and correctness of information. At the moment there is no way to effectively control how images get cropped when published online.
What we are doing is quite simple. With the Frameright tools, anyone can create and save different crop versions and save this information inside the image file’s metadata fields. This means that the image carries the information on how it should be displayed. The cropping data can be used when needed, making sure images look exactly how they are supposed to on all channels and devices.
Image cropping is not as straightforward as it may seem. How one positions the edge of an image creates an illusion of the world that is not visible to the viewer. The area left outside has a meaning comparable to the content of the image. Image cropping is one of the most powerful ways of manipulating a story. This cannot be left to automation. Instead, there needs to be a way to control this. Nondestructive cropping ensures that we can always backtrack what was in the original image.
For many, visual culture sounds like nonsense artsy talk that has no business value. But I believe that we have to have a level of aesthetics and style in our world. Last year this led me to dropping everything else and becoming one of those who try the impossible, to make an impact with a start-up.
I believe in photography as a rich way to tell stories. There are countless ways to compose and use visual dynamics to structure a powerful reportage. Getting close, showing far, and finding the rhythm are very important for the flow. I have noticed a tendency of how technical requirements are starting to change the way people shoot. Focusing in the middle, leaving a lot of space around. Making online-safe images is shaping image content.
Technological limits also affect the image selection process. It is not ok that a starting image for a story is chosen based on how the composition works when cut into multiple sizes. The starting image should be the one that is the most suitable for the narrative. We make this possible with Frameright by providing a tool for controlling how the image will be cut.
The idea for Frameright was first born when writing my masters thesis. As a sidetrack, we started talking with my co-founder Ilkka about how something was seriously wrong with the way images were being used in online publications. Ilkka had often encountered the same problem from a technological point of view. A spontaneous brainstorm happened and eventually in spring 2017 we both dropped everything else we were doing and founded Frameright.
A practical reason that motivates us to build Frameright is the impact it can have on the amount of different versions and files floating around. The hassle of making individual crops and versions of an image is now replaced with a simple, smooth flow, and all the information is saved in the image metadata. No more getting mixed up with versions, an issue I constantly struggled with when making multiple version of the same image for a client. Frameright saves time and resources for all parties in the workflow.
The year has been a scary and fun adventure. Devoting everything to one thing and leaving all else behind has been difficult and relieving at the same time. I am lucky to have Ilkka as a co-founder. Sharing this journey with him and our designer and long time friend Jaakko has been amazing. The next step is to grow from a bunch of old friends to a bigger team with new talent.
The flow of badly cropped images has been slowly creeping into our daily media feed. My biggest concern is that people get accustomed to bad images. We must remember that visual communication is as important as grammar. It is crucial for media companies and brands to truly think how their online presence looks like.
We are still building the product and looking for beta testers. Sign up for our news letter at https://frameright.io/ and you will be notified when we start with the testing.