The Obsidian Collection Archives, continuing its goal of being a valued asset to today’s black media outlets with digital tools, announces the launch of The Obsidian Images, a consumer-facing stock photo portal with digitized content available for licensing and permission to use to tell Black stories. Black history, arts and culture as portrayed in images provided exclusively from legacy Black newspapers, photographers, archives and community groups around the country are now available for viewing and licensing online at theobsidianimages.com.
The images’ original owners retain ownership and receive a majority of the proceeds. The Obsidian Collection Archives’ Founder and Executive Director Angela Ford describes the platform as “the Black Stock Photos” with a key distinction.
“One of the criteria is that the images tell Black stories through the eyes of Black people, the way we see ourselves,” Ford said. “Not just the struggle, but black pride, community, self-efficacy, empowerment and entrepreneurship.”
The site currently has thousands of rare, digitized images of Black celebrities, politicians, community leaders and everyday citizens, as well as notable events such as the 1972 Black National Convention in Gary, Indiana, a rebuke of discriminatory tactics that excluded African Americans from participating in the Democratic process.
Ford took up the charge to preserve and share black historical images after digging through the archives of the Chicago Defender for articles about her grandmother, a Chicago socialite. She partnered with Google Arts and Culture in 2018 to share galleries of images she curated from the Defender featuring rare images of Joe Louis, Harold Washington, and cultural and political events.
In her Talk at Google, Ford shared her strategy to digitize black archives to generate revenue streams for black media and help the next generation of Black storytellers tell more authentic stories. Also, on theobsidiancollection.org, writers can upload their profile on Obsidian WROTE, an online platform that gives Black journalists, screenwriters, grant writers and copy editors a means to be discovered by media outlets and other content seekers. Next, Ford has ramped up The Obsidian Center to digitize and catalog large archives owned by colleges, museums and other cultural institutions. Black institutions interested in digitizing archives, visit theobsidiancenter.org.