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Female Puerto Rican leads market network for freelance visual storytellers

Visura is a market network for publishers and organizations to search, connect, and hire freelance visual journalists and storytellers worldwide. Empowerment, sustainability, and inclusiveness are the key components of a company that is re-envisioning the future of work and the marketplace for media and journalism.

The company was originally launched as FotoVisura Inc in 2009 by Adriana Teresa and Graham Letorney as a media, tech, and production company, primarily responsible for producing Visura Magazine, FotoVisura.com, and The FotoVisura Pavilion at The New York Photo Festival from 2009-2013.

In 2016, the founders decided to focus on software, design services, and marketplaces. As a result, Visura was launched as a new model to power the distribution of visual content across the internet focused on the creator economy.

Letorney is a Hispanic entrepreneur, journalist, and publisher who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, a BFA in photography at the School of Visual Arts New York, and a master’s degree in American Journalism at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Adriana Teresa Letorney

She moved to New York with the dream of offering new perspectives about what it means to be Puerto Rican and the incredible talent that is being developed on the island. Her main goal has always been to elevate media literacy by highlighting the work of diverse freelance visual storytellers from around the world. All her hard work has paid off.

With more than 10 years of experience, Letorney has succeeded in numerous projects for different prestigious companies. She has been the publisher of Visura Magazine, producer of The FotoVisura Pavilion, and co-producer of the inaugural GuatePhoto International Festival. As a journalist, she also contributed articles, interviews, columns, and profile stories for the New York Times, Huffington Post, amongst other publications.

She is also co-founder and executive producer at Scout Film Festival — a nonprofit organization founded by Anna Colavito that supports, empowers and connects emerging filmmakers around the world aged 24 and under through short films.

Through the years, numerous publications have highlighted the work that Letorney is doing in the digital realm, including The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, NY Daily News, The Daring Magazine, and SevenDays. 

In 2011, Charles B. Rangel, of the New York State House of Representatives, added her curatorial project titled “The Dia Exhibition” to the Congressional Records, recognizing a masterpiece that honors the Puerto Rican photographers who documented their community in New York from the 1960s to 1980s. The Dia Exhibition was also featured on the New York Daily News and New York Times Lens Blog.

At an early stage of her career, Letorney chose to dedicate her life to tackling the systemic challenges of sourcing visual content creators that lead to more discrimination, abuse, biases, and violence in the job market. Her interest has been focused on learning about other people’s voices and making them be listened to, as there are many gaps in the industry that exclude potential talent who could easily contribute to elevating media literacy.

Consequently, in the last decade, she has been studying how technology plays a significant role in the visual content platforms and developing strategies to build a safe space, so that freelancers from all over the world can engage them without tearing each other apart or breaking their banks. This is how Visura was born.

Visura, the power of visual storytelling
Visura.co was built on the essence of a sustainable business model vision. It is designed to allow its members to grow together in the difference. This means a community where they have the resources and the tools to develop their work successfully and, as individuals, manage their time and life in a balanced and healthy way.

Based on these premises, the company offers freelancers access to business tools to manage their online presence and work, connect with a global marketplace, pitch stories to publishers, and grow their audience. Overall, the tech platform offers solutions that foster inclusivity, sustainability, and career development in an enabling environment. It also provides equal and merit-based access to the global marketplace. Freelance visual storytellers can build their websites, pitch stories to editors, and access business tools to enhance their work and further their career paths.

The Visura community is rooted in a sense of responsibility, diversity, kindness, empathy, and accountability. The company database consists of more than 6,000 members from more than 100 countries. Around 1700 are freelance visual journalists and more than 300 are photo editors from publications like The New York Times, NPR, Washington Post, and Bloomberg Businessweek. All of them embrace the value of the content uploaded to the internet. 

Everything the company has designed and developed is the result of listening to the global communities and their needs. The team has learned that to facilitate better access to high-quality visual content, they need to re-envision and design new systems that create access for breaking news, stock, editorial, commercial, and distinctive visual storytelling.

Nowadays, over 70% of visual journalists work as freelancers. The platform, therefore, is functioning as a bridge to reduce the gap between visual content creators and customers, and it does so in a way that does not exploit the talent or diminish the value of their creative work.

Emily Cruz Villegas is a journalist and freelance content writer from Venezuela, with four years of experience as an academic researcher, mainly focused on economic development, public policies, and digital diplomacy. She has postgraduate education in International Relations at the University of Salvador (Argentina), and a master’s degree in Public Management at KDI School (South Korea). She may be reached at [email protected].

Letorney is now part of the NYU Female Founder Fellowship while continually creating a movement to empower not only digital media but also individuals and organizations while building a curated community. For her, giving up has never been an option. She has always believed that no vision is built on its own and no person acts alone; hence, it is not just the personal journey, it is also the history that comes with the journey.

In this sense, her story as a Hispanic woman and the history of her people, her community, and her hometown in Puerto Rico is part of the story that made Visura. At present, the company leverages technology to empower a growing community of freelance content creators with tools to manage their online presence and connect with the world, based on their location, expertise, and career goals.

Visura.co is then making a great impact in the industry. In 2021, MUO—one of the largest online technology publications on the web—placed Visura in position #2 of the top for freelance photographers to connect with photo editors, alongside Behance, Instagram, amongst others.

In December of the same year, Visura was named one of the 10 finalists for the Distribution Channels division supported by Warner Media, as part of the Next Challenge launched by the Glen Nelson Center at American Public Media Group. This opportunity recognizes the company as one of the startups creating new digital platforms revolutionizing the way media content is delivered across the country and around the globe.

The same year, Letorney joined NYU’s Entrepreneurship Institute, where she completed the LaunchPad, an award-winning immersive 9-week accelerator for scalable startups led by NYU students. During the NYU VC PitchFest, Visura was awarded “Most Investable Startup.”

The path forward is to remove the gatekeepers, give power back to the creators with a toolset that allows them to have a better online presence, and bridge the gap between publishers and creators to elevate media literacy, and empower audiences with the power of visual storytelling.

Author Details
Author Details
This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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