Christina Hawatmeh, the CEO and founder of Scopio, a community-based image marketplace, and the co-author of The Year Time Stopped: The Global Pandemic in Photos, sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about her new book and the power of human resilience.
Jessica Abo: Christina, let’s start with your company. How did you come up with the idea for Scopio?
I saw on social media, we were sharing the most incredible images of our lifetime, but then the next day they were gone on social media. And I wanted a place where we could look back and have this as an archive. I invented a way to pull images from social media and then get the rights and be able to distribute them. People from more than 190 countries do that today on Scopio and they upload their images in less than a few minutes and then the whole world can use them.
Tell us a little bit more about how it works and what is the user experience like?
People come to Scopio because they have something inside of them they want to share. Whether it is a moment or this incredible image. They upload that and in less than a few minutes with a story and a photo, and then anyone around the world is able to then access and use that. The copyright owner keeps the rights and also can be hired on their creative skills so that they could earn a living and really be connected with the rest of the world to really change visual perceptions and how we see ourselves and how we see other people.
The Year Time Stopped The Global Pandemic in Photos recently came out. What can you share about that process?
We knew that in order to give this idea justice, we really needed it to be from every corner of the world because we were all experiencing this. On Scopio, we have more than a million images today and it grows every day. We already had incredible works that were uploaded. We curated them. We went back to the artists. We asked them for more information if we felt like the story wasn’t complete enough. And we really dug into everybody’s emotions. On every page, you’re either going to laugh, you’re going to cry, you’re going to feel anger, you’re going to feel frustration. You will feel every single human emotion in this book. And we decided we were not going to leave any subject behind. In order to really deal with this complicated issue, we did that from a global perspective. We did that from all these different themes and we broke the book into two sections, one called Alone and the other Together.
What do you want to say to the person out there who has their own creative idea? How do they bring it to life?
Whatever you’re doing in life, you need to dive right into it. You can’t just kind of give a little bit. I feel like that’s an injustice to the world, so that’s where the complications are. But if you have an idea, you should start the idea before you actually get an opportunity. I started this almost nine months before we got an opportunity with Harper Collins. Just preparing yourself for that, the universe has an incredible way of giving you what you want.
I think 2020 was the most remarkable year for human beings’ evolution. We realized who we are. We realized what we don’t want to be. We saw what we are as a society. We looked deep inside ourselves, and all the noises around us subsided. We had time to actually stop and think, and then society and the environment fundamentally changed. And when you say things like, “I can’t do this, or this is too hard for me” and you look here and you see all the things people were going through — that difficulty, that grit — this is really what human resilience is all about.