What values does MPB wish to promote through its partnerships?
Sophie COLLINS. “We have a clear purpose, which is to ‘open up the world of visual storytelling in a way that’s good for people and the planet’, and all our strategic decisions are aligned with this – including the partners we choose to collaborate with. There are three key partnership themes we focus on: Accessibility – by providing better access to kit, promoting the work of photographers and videographers, helping people on their creative journey, opening up new opportunities and making visual storytelling more accessible for everyone; Diversity – supporting our commitment to promoting diverse and inclusive visual storytelling; and Sustainability – contributing to a circular economy that is good for the environment.
MPB is very involved in sustainability, the environment and in the circular economy. How is MPB turning these themes into action and support?
Circularity is at the core of MPB’s business. In the last year alone, we recirculated 500,000 pieces of used kit, extending the life and creative potential of photo and video equipment for creators around the world.
We’ve always incorporated environmental and inclusive principles throughout MPB and formalised our sustainability strategy in 2021. This includes initiatives in zero inbound waste to landfill, reusable packaging, working with suppliers – including couriers – that are investing seriously in net zero carbon, and promoting inclusion and diversity in our workplaces and through our own content, marketing and partnerships. You can learn more about these efforts in our Impact Report.
Can you tell me a little more about your partnership with OneTreePlanted, and what actions you’re doing with this NGO?
OneTreePlanted is a non-profit whose projects span the globe and are done in partnership with local communities and experts to create an impact for nature, people and wildlife. Reforestation helps to rebuild forests after fires and floods, provide jobs for social impact and restore biodiversity. Our partnership with OneTreePlanted has helped to plant over 70,000 trees in the last three years and counting. This November, we’ve committed to planting up to 20,000 trees every time someone buys, sells or trades with MPB to help combat deforestation.
We know how difficult it can be for many photographers to find financial stability. Do you envisage MPB taking on a patronage role, and if so, in what way?
MPB works with a number of partners, charities and organisations around the world to help visual storytellers overcome various barriers, including those financially oriented. For example, The 70:15:40 Project was launched to correct the photography and videography picture for women, trans and non-binary people in the UK, inspired by the fact that while women comprise 70% of photography graduates, only 15% of professional photographers are women—who earn an average of 40% less than men. The competition winners are being provided with everything they need to create their vision and further their careers, including funding, kit, studio and exhibition spaces, mentorship and publicity. More broadly, our platform offers photographers and videographers at every level, and with any budget, safe and convenient access to the world’s largest and widest inventory of used photo and video equipment.
You are also very involved in inclusion, how does this take shape through partnerships?
We have set ourselves a target that 60% of our marketing efforts – which includes our own content and advertising, and partnerships – feature visual storytellers from underrepresented groups. We focus on four historically underrepresented groups: women, trans and non-binary people; people who are non-white or from ethnic minorities; people who identify as LGBTQIA; and people with disabilities. As I mentioned, we are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in visual storytelling, and it is a key theme we look to activate through our strategic partnerships. Our recent partnership with IWPA, (International Women in Photo Association) is a result of this: The French non-profit organisation is guided by a powerful dual mission:
- Empowering Diversity, Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment, Sustainability, and Access to Education through Photography
- Advocating for and Supporting Women Photographers and Visual Storytellers Engaged in these Themes.
Why did you choose to support Catchlight?
We are thrilled to sponsor CatchLight’s Global Fellowship. This outstanding program grants access and opportunity to visual storytellers in a completely unique way, leveraging the power of visual communication as a tool to inform, connect and transform communities. The CatchLight Global Fellowship’s focus on building innovative ways to engage audiences is a key pillar to defining the future of the field and to countering the rapid general decline of media across the world. We’re proud to be a part of such a dynamic partnership that creates further access for all. Accessibility is the key to making sure all visual storytellers are heard.
MPB and CatchLight’s mission and values are closely aligned, with a shared commitment to equitable, sustainable, and inclusive creative practices. CatchLight shares MPB’s dedication to supporting diverse photographers who are looking to expand and grow their creative practices.
What future partnerships would you like to set up?
We recognise there are various barriers to inclusive representation in visual storytelling including the cost of equipment and training, lack of role models and career pathways, and cultural biases. Recognising and removing these is vital for visual storytelling to reflect and inspire everyone in society to realise their potential. So in addition to giving everyone access to affordable photo and video kit, we look to create future partnerships that help us continue to promote inclusive photography and videography, and an inclusive circular economy.”