Bloomen Photo Pilot

Can Blockchain Improve Photo Journalism?

With the explosion of channels and providers for digital news services, visual content has now become a key differentiator for success in news journalism. Visual journalism puts special emphasis on powerful photos, illustrations, data visualisations, gifs or short videos. While the number of visuals required by news organisations is increasing, underlying systems for image acquisition, rights management and royalty payment remain largely unchanged.

Current systems are often inefficient and complex

Systems in use can be characterised by inefficiency, complexity and – often – unfair payment structures – especially when it comes to multinational transactions. On one hand, for news organisations, it is still difficult to acquire specific visuals quickly and easily from external creators, especially in a global and breaking news context. On the other side, thousands of professional creators who trained for years see revenues go down year after year.

Improving Visual Journalism

Bloomen Photo aims to improve Visual Journalism by developing a simpler approach based on smart contracts for acquisition and rights management of creative visuals from international contributors.

Prompt payments for creators

The social elements such as prompt payment for work without major deductions are important. During the Bloomen project, this pilot focuses on News Photos for journalism from international photographers, e.g. in Africa, because even the large photo agencies do not have photographers everywhere.

It implements a Blockchain-based smart contract process for picture editors in news organisations: The pilot explores the following anticipated benefits:

  • Fairness: reliable, dynamic and fast payment of photographers worldwide
  • Transparency: any listed party has access to photo source and transaction history
  • Rights clearance: automated process, avoiding conflict resolution costs
  • Efficiency: reduction of cost for international photo acquisition/transaction
  • Editorial: more photos for specific news events, of higher quality and relevance.


The photo use case addresses Picture Editors in news organisations as the primary target group. A smart contract solution can be integrated in existing photo workflows or provided within a dedicated application.

The Bloomen Photo Smart Contract Application covers the following core functions for news organisations and photographers:

  • Account registration and photo/metadata upload (photographers)
  • Photo sale to news organization (photographer) and compensation
  • Staff user account setup and photo browsing (news organisation)
  • Photo purchase and photographer ranking (news organization)

Bloomen Photo Pilot, Screenshot (as of mid-2019). Source:


This pilot is run by Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster with news and factual content services on all platforms for worldwide audiences.