Retna – telling African stories with African images

Recently, in writing an article, our team needed African pictures for a project we had. It was not supposed to be a tough task – but unfortunately that’s what it ended up being. We simply could not find any high quality pictures. After scouring the internet, we finally stumbled upon Retna.

Based on a pun on the word ‘Retina’, Retna is definitely one of the more interesting design tools we saw on the internet in 2022. Currently in public beta (very surprising to us), Retna is doing something we already understand quite well – providing stock images. However, they’ve put a very important spin on it – embracing and championing African storytelling. A quick browse of their website and you’ll immediately realise that it is probably the biggest library of high-quality authentic African imagery, covering various subjects, concepts, and most importantly, stories from across the African continent. All achieved by working hand in hand with a community of clearly talented photographers and creatives. It’s pretty impressive if we can say so ourselves.

Retna created their website in response to the frustration African creators, employed professionals and designers face due to the lack of authentic images and videos of Africa. This absence reinforces stereotypes and makes it hard to shift perceptions of the continent. Their objective is to challenge these stereotypes and empower creatives to produce accurate representations of African stories and culture, while democratising access to them. Ultimately, Retna aims to enable people to take ownership of the African story.

Funnily enough, this admirable goal is very clearly reflected in a recent development on their website. Just in time for the Nigerian Gubernatorial Elections, Retna opened a portal on their website, asking voters across the country to take charge of the narrative by uploading images from their polling centres. This could not be a better timed surprise! Everything from results announced at the centres, to new developments, people will be able to make use of this feature to ensure that there’s a secure repository of their votes. It’s definitely a big and exciting step, and it proves that Retna is serious about their plan to protect, share, and encourage African stories.

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About Retna

Retna, a free library of high-quality photos of Africa and Africans, launched in public beta in November 2022, featuring a vast collection of photos contributed by talented photographers across Africa. Retna aims to challenge stereotypes and showcase Africa’s diversity through the eyes of its people while empowering African photographers and creatives, providing greater exposure, extra income, and vital education and resources to navigate the business side of creative work effectively.

Media Contact:

Kalu Arunsi: [email protected]


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