Narrative raises $2.58M to bring its AI-powered image-culling software to professional photographers worldwide

By James Broadbent

Founders Fund led the seed round investment in the New Zealand-based startup, comprised of former Uber and Google employees and founded by an internationally-renowned photographer

We are pleased to announce our USD$2.58 million seed raise to scale our artificial intelligence-powered photo selection tool to millions of photographers worldwide. The round was led by Founders Fund with Icehouse Ventures contributing.

Our first photo-blogging service, Publish, scaled organically via word-of-mouth to wedding photographers around the world. Today, tens of thousands of portrait, lifestyle, wedding, and influencer photographers have used Narrative Publish to improve their photography blogs’ aesthetic and SEO - the lifeblood of marketing efforts for freelance photographers. Photographers pay an annual subscription to use Publish.

Our newest product, Narrative Select, uses machine learning to label the desirability of a photo, initially focusing on attributes of human subjects and focus of the image. Photo subjects with partially-closed eyes are flagged by the technology as desirable or undesirable in a matter of seconds. The product’s machine learning models are able to detect image attributes, like closed eyes or an unfocused picture, with 98% accuracy. Typically, Select will apply warning labels to the worst images — usually around 30% of any given batch of photos — dramatically speeding up the editing process for photographers who would otherwise have to sift through thousands of poor-quality images. 

The need Select fills is particularly exciting for the professional photographer. For every day a photographer spends behind a camera shooting, they spend up to four days behind the computer. For photographers who are not as technologically adept, that translates into far more time stuck behind their computer screens using complicated products, while not making money for that time at the computer. Narrative Select’s intuitive and easy to master UX with quick-key shortcuts enables a photographer to not only flag and remove bad photos, but sift through photos quickly and efficiently. 

Our goal, at the heart of all our products, is to reduce the workload outside of the photoshoot, helping a market of 5+ million professional and freelance photographers increase their efficiency, freeing up more of their time to grow their book of business. The current version of Select focuses specifically on photography of human subjects. This will expand into fashion, commercial, and lifestyle photography in the coming months.

“Over the last year, we have seen a groundswell of organic demand for Narrative’s software among thousands of professional and freelance photographers worldwide,” said James Broadbent, Co-Founder and CEO of Narrative. “We’re excited to broaden our suite of services to include a lightning-speed, comprehensive photo-culling tool that leverages machine-learning to instantly label poor images while taking into account a photo’s nuance, a photographer’s patterns, and a client’s preferred style. It’s especially exciting to have assembled a world-class team from companies like Google and Uber to take our product and growth to the next level.”

“Narrative’s products have dramatically changed my workload as a photographer by saving days if not weeks of time on editing photos and marketing my business,” said Nicole Ashley