How Fracture is Turning Photos Into High-Quality Art For The Home
People used to store their old photographs in finite spaces, like albums and shoeboxes. Today, these spaces are digital. As technology advances, the places where we store our pictures—hard drives, desktops, and the cloud—are becoming infinitely larger.
Alex Theodore, CTO and co-founder of Fracture—a modern photo decor company that sells glass-printed images—coined this issue as “The Digital Shoebox Conundrum.”
The conundrum is that while we store our images in the digital shoebox, we rarely look at them. It’s a self-scaling issue, because as technology allows more digital space at a lower cost, the problem of running out becomes obsolete.
Consumer interest in photography continues to grow due to the rise of social media, online content, and other progressions within the industry. The commoditization of cell phones and digital cameras means we are taking more pictures now than ever before.
Yet according to Theodore, for every ten thousand pictures people take, they only print ten.
Decline Of Photo Printing
Some reasons for the lack of photo printing: sharing images online, printing costs, and advancements in digital file storing which lessen one’s inclination to print.
Because printing images is currently not as popular a trend as digitally sharing pictures across social networks and computers, Theodore says there is an undercapitalized amount of physical real estate for images. This is where he and business partner Abhi Lokesh saw their opportunity to modernize photo printing.
Theodore and Lokesh’s entrepreneurial beginnings started when they were fresh into college and wanting to start a business. They began with the idea of selling artists’ photography work, though they soon realized the product did not sell itself. This led to a discovery that became a driving force behind Fracture: people have lost a passion for photo decor.
During college, the two won a $10,000 grant through Projects For Peace, a fellowship program that invites students to design grassroots projects for peace anywhere in the world.
This sent them on an agriculture-based trip to Africa, and while the work there was unrelated to their business, this adventure gave them newfound space and time to think. One day sitting under a tree they asked each other the question, “What would you do if someone gave you a bunch of money?”
That conversation sparked an idea about printing photos on glass, something Theodore experimented with in a high school project. Theodore asked Lokesh—his friend, business partner, and now CEO of Fracture—if he came up with a product, how would they sell it?
Since then, their collaborative roles have remained similar, with Theodore spearheading the technological and product development end of the company, and Lokesh managing the brand and marketing side. The two finished their project in Africa a month early and returned home to start developing their idea, and prototyping the product.
“The vision at the beginning was printed glass. Quickly it inspired us so much that we thought much bigger than just printed glass. We didn’t really know what that was, we just felt it. After I prototyped, the only thing I wanted to do was prototype better. I was so focused on getting to the next step that I didn’t even realize where I was walking,” Theodore said.
Their last semester of college was spent developing Fracture’s business plan and prototyping the product between classes. As they perfected the manufacturing process of the printed glass, they also became aware of the emotional weight images carry.
“One of the first realizations we came to was a total shocker—it was completely unintuitive, and not at all what I was expecting—that quality was much less important than content to people. What I noticed in other people is their ability to recognize quality was completely overshadowed by their emotional reaction to their baby,” Theodore said.
What people wanted, Theodore realized, was not a perfect product. Instead they wanted to print pictures of their family, their babies, and vacations. So they changed the marketing message of Fracture to focus more on experiences and memories rather than novelty and quality.
“I realized that quality matters much less than content to people. An artist takes years to develop an eye for quality. But a mother intuitively loves a child. That’s really key. You have to understand that it’s not about photos. It’s about memory and emotion,” Theodore said.
Manufacturing Printed Glass
From an operational standpoint, Theodore and Lokesh were building a manufacturing company. Unlike a software startup where one hires people who have done similar work before, they were treading new territory technically, mechanically, and physically.
From the ground-up they wrote the software, built the machines, crafted a marketing strategy, and created their space in this new market.
Modern Photo Decor
Today Fracture is state-of-the-art, modern photo decor for the home. It specializes in custom pictures printed on glass, available in various styles and sizes. Fracture wants people to print memories from their “digital shoebox” in a modern way.
Currently, their primary focus is on scaling. This task comes with the cultural shift of convincing people to print their images once again. Inspiring people to change their views towards printing is one of Fracture’s major goals.
People will continue to document life memories and experiences by taking pictures. As this happens, Fracture hopes to find its vision on the walls of many homes. Using printed glass, Fracture aspires to end the digital shoebox conundrum and turn captured moments into modern home decor.