Photos Inc. | Keeping the Conversation Alive Around Photography

When photography changed from analogue to digital the consequences reverberated within the industry.


No longer could professional photographers connect at the lab like they had done. This lost opportunity became the public’s gain with the birth of Photos Inc four-and-a-half years ago.


“We started it to keep the conversation alive around photography – to really keep it in the spotlight,” says Mark Smith, a professional photographer of 30 years who joined forces with his long-time friend, Anna Comrie-Thomson.


Both Mark and Anna work as photographers.


They approached a few other photographers with the idea of leasing, and Photos Inc. was started.


“I take photos but Mark is a photographer of note who has worked in multiple environments: commercial work, commissioned work, charity work, books,” says Anna.


Mark believes it’s a nice way to reconnect with people, “restart that conversation again and keep the interest alive for photography – the bottom line for us was to enable further exposure of great NZ photography”.


Photos Inc. both sells and leases photographic works of art.


“There are not a lot of people here in Auckland who can lay out $8,000 for one photograph, it’s a huge amount of money to earn before you can pay $8,000,” says Anna. “Leasing is our raison d’être.”


She says it enables clients to enjoy the chance to have fabulous works on their walls minus the huge outlay.


“We lease works from $10 a week, based on the scale of work, the artist and their reputation,” Mark says.


Corporate clients like the lease option Anna says given “it’s all tax deductible in an office refit”.


“It’s a good way to brighten up or to give atmosphere to difficult spaces.  Photography can provide that.”


For instance, an engineering firm in South Auckland was stoked when their staff gave the thumbs up to how they felt about a couple of landscape photographs that their bosses had requested specifically to enhance the workspace due to a pending visit by a European customer. That blokey environment shifted.


The impact of Photos Inc. was also recognised when an architect won the NZ architecture awards for an office fit out in Wellington.


He sent Mark and Anna the official citation that mentioned, “the design exudes both grace and – through the client’s collection of contemporary photography – good humour”.


“That’s validating for us” says Anna.


Richard James, CEO NZ Funds Auckland echoes a similar sentiment.


“The photography from Mark and the team at Photos Inc. captures how we feel about our business. Deeply and unmistakably New Zealand but a little curiously unique at the same time. Photography is so much more accessible than other forms of art. Watching our people and our clients engage with it has been wonderful.”


Another pop-up show at Ponsonby Central is planned for the end of October, beginning of November. There are two held annually.


“Prominent on the Photos Inc website, is a quote by French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard, ‘When the image is new, the world is new’.”


Words: Sarah Sparks
Featured image: 
Cloud #2, 2015