How To Make A Photo Worth $1,000
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Every photo has a story behind it, but the Internet separates a photo from its context, says Rey Flemings, 38, co-founder of Stipple (, a service that syndicates the data inside of a photo.

“Computers are able to read and understand text today. But when it comes to images, the computers are still blind. A machine has no clue what a group of pixels represent. Stipple is in the business of helping computers know what is in images,” says Flemings, who launched the company in June 2010. Shortly thereafter, he raised $3.5 million in Stipple’s first round of funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm, as well as musician Justin Timberlake and other investors.

Stipple uses computer vision to help a computer obtain information from a photo. As a result, an image’s story or information stays with it as it moves throughout the Web, and that information will stay connected with the image no matter where it is published or how many times it is republished.

When a viewer mouses over a photo they can learn anything the tagger of the photo wants them to know. Publishers can add information about objects or people and even tag products for sale within an image. For example, the brand of sunglasses the subject is wearing, the price of the car they’re driving, or the cost of the vacation they are taking can all be available to the viewer. A photo can even act like a microsite containing other photos, videos, music, or tweets. That information will stay with the photograph as it is used by bloggers and by individuals on social media sites.

For photographers, Stipple provides an opportunity to earn money from display advertising, and advertisers will be able to turn images into e-commerce points of sale, build brand awareness, and collect analytics to show which photos perform best in ad campaigns. It’s free for anyone to get started, and Stipple users get 10,000 free mouseovers or engagements with their photos; after that, prices start at $25 for engagements or campaigns. The company also sells display ads inside of photos.

Flemings, who is the former president of the Memphis Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps cultivate a viable music industry in the city, has worked between the realm of music and technology for several years.

Currently, Stipple is being used by more than 3,000 publishers, including sites affiliated with Time Warner and Condé Nast. When the service launched almost two years ago, Stipple was limited to a smaller group of approved brands and publishers. Now, starting this month, any small business or individual can use Stipple to tag photos.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.