Kroma Projekts; A story of Engagement – How we came to be.
Updated: Feb 21
Kroma Projekts is the leading live-engagement agency in Egypt. We’ll be explaining live-engagement over the coming weeks, until then here’s our story.
I’m a photographer. I like still images. They don’t move. You don’t need engineers to create them. They’re straight to the point and when done properly leave their audience with lasting impact. Over the years I’ve done many images properly; on one occasion while shooting a music festival in the thick of the main stage crowd, someone recognized me, pulled me over, showed me his phone, and said the following – verbatim:
“You don’t know me, but I’ve had your photo of Cairo from the Nile as my phone wallpaper for years. I love it.”
Photograph 1 - Cairo.
I am immensely proud of the image, but the point I make is that images done well leave an impact, and with clients like Facebook, MBC, UEFA, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nacelle, Mixmag, even industrial corporations such as Miraco, my teams in Egypt, Dubai and New York have been making images that leave an impact for years.
The problem is, impact alone is not enough. Attention spans today are too short for images to leave any kind of impact. I read an article recently stating that even goldfish can focus for longer than the average TikToker. People want (read need) the content they consume to have purpose, to have drawing power… to engage them.
Posting photos of events after the fact stopped being relevant years ago. People no longer cared. They want to be part of the action in some way or another. To feel involved with their friends, peers, or to a greater extent, people with similar interests – they want to take part in events they can’t physically be at. We’ve seen this in events as well as in-studio environments, everything from music festivals, tradeshows, fashion shows, product shoots, real estate shoots… anywhere something interesting is happening, there is an audience that wants to feel involved, not just to observe; to be the fly on the wall, to experience the thing of the moment.
Photograph 2 "The Thing of the moment" Giorgio Moroder celebrating 50 years of I Feel Love for Mixmag Magazine, NYC
This eureka moment happened at a portfolio review session in 2016 (way before COVID) while studying photography at the International Centre of Photography in New York (ICP). I left a full-time corporate career at Procter & Gamble to try and make sense of my not-so-commercial commercial work. Best decision I’ve ever made.
A dear instructor, the incredible Frank Franka took me aside and dedicated much of his time to set me on the path leading to me writing this now. I’m listing because I don’t have his flair but roughly speaking this is what he had to say:
A fine art practice inspires and drives commercial work
Commercial work leads a life of its own
This audience engagement thing I incorporate in commercial events is gold – and I need to set up a company to sell the service immediately
NEVER name a company after yourself
Think of a name inspired by something from astronomy or physics… but be careful not to get too cheesy. It’s all in the name!
Frank, if you’re reading this, you continue to inspire me and my work every day. I hope to catch up over coffee in New York again soon!
Pegasus Productions. Andromeda Studios. These were two of the names being thrown around – he was right about the cheese. Eventually, something clicked as I was reading through Goethe’s Theory of Color, and the word Chroma hit me. Here it is, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
chro·ma | \ ˈkrō-mə \
Definition of chroma
2: a quality of color combining hue and saturation
, or the intensity of colour, struck a chord.
Everything about color fascinates me. The fluidity yet validity of the word’s meanings when moving from art and light to music were a major draw. I knew the best way to encompass my commercial work was to bring it under this vast umbrella of meaning.
Studio Chroma. Chroma Studios. Chroma Productions. How lame.
As with most things in life, a friend put in a good word to one of their friends, and within a few months, I became the photographer of my dreams. Life started peaking around the time my live-engagement style of project coverage was also reaching new heights. On one particular event, I was working with MIXMAG and Smirnoff shooting N.A.A.F.I., a young up-and-coming electronic artist crew from Mexico. The event was at a bar called TBA in Brooklyn, and I was editing photos in the storage room. Crouched in front of my laptop that was balancing on my camera bag I’d shoot some of the action, run back into the damp locker to download images, make selections with the help of an overly-dressed PR exec, confirm the “this is it” shot, retouch the image very quickly and push it out in real-time to a digital billboard in Time Square – all while the event was raging on the other side of the swinging door. My dream of near-real-time mass audience engagement was being realized to a scale I could not have imagined (thank you for believing in me, DC).
Photograph 3 As big as it gets. My photograph of NAAFI was shot, edited and delivered to Time Square in real-time. (Excuse the construction)
Photograph 4 The NAAFI image chosen for Time Square
We’re told the biggest companies all started in a garage… well, as you can see for this, and many projects thereafter, a garage would have been too comfortable, too easy.
Photograph 5 Proof of our luxury operations locations – “The Boss” board from Sandbox festival 2015
Not the drug, the letter. That friend of a friend I mentioned earlier is Rocky Ramniceanu, founder of Bespoke Kollektiv in New York. Rocky gave me my first real gig in New York. He was also directly or indirectly responsible for every gig thereafter. The K’s in Kroma Projekts are a small ode to you.
Check them out. Easily the coolest agency out there. Everything about them is inspiring. Their back story, their client list, their projects, the quality of their work, their website… Everything. Please, take a minute and go check them out, you’ll be glad you did. I am a fan. I look up to them in all aspects of their business. I want my business to be like theirs, undefined by genre, product, sector, or style. Each project is defined by itself and their quality of delivery. Projects. No, ProjeKts.
Armed with a name, roughly around the time Facebook was putting serious resources into their Facebook Live platform - that’s 2016 - the mission of the company began to present itself very clearly:
To provide an instant connection between our clients and their potential audience through interactive live engagement tools, ensuring the audience feels that they're a part of the action.
Livestreaming was the missing link in providing audiences with a sense of purpose to the content they consume. Not only could they enjoy visual content, but they could also take part, share with friends, share their opinions, have an impact on the outcome of the event… be involved, have a connection. In real-time!
Besides, livestreamed videos could be taken back into the editing room and repurposed into polished short-form content for social, over and over again. The impact on event content ROI was incredible. In 2016, no one could have imagined that livestreamed virtual events would be the only form of events only 4 years later.
Photograph 6 An epic but unexpected surprise finding Flying Lotus in the studio next door to my shoot. If this was being livestreamed, I would have signed up in advance!
Reality is, livestreaming has been around since the introduction of 3G cellular networks back in the early 2000s… though cost and service complexity took a few years to settle to a manageable level. Companies like Groovy Gecko have been streaming to the internet since 2003 and are responsible for projects that have shaped my understanding of what is possible. Thank you, Groovy Gecko, for producing the Bocelli Music for Hope Livestream during the global lockdown. You inspired millions, and you inspired us to produce 40+ hours of livestreamed performances during the lockdown. I invite you to watch Akram & Tereza performing on my roof in April of 2020.
Missions, visions, dreams, and ideas do not establish companies, especially not in Egypt. Nor does pioneering a new set of services to a market such as ours. Name, mission, and a whole host of clients, experiences, and proofs of concept in hand, together with my co-founder, Mohamed Reda, commonly known as Manas, we embarked on this choppy voyage of entrepreneurship.
We’ve had highs (working with Adam Paul and his team of 7-time Emmy-winning concert producers 7Cinematics to produce the live stream of The Peppers at the Pyramids will always be THE high) and we’ve had pack-your-shit-lows. In all these, I am incredibly fortunate to have such a motivational and rock-steady partner and co-founder capable of navigating the endless distractions and potholes along our way. Kroma Projekts is an efficient, data-driven company thanks to his proven proficiency in bringing structure to the companies he works with. Reach out to him if reading this appeals to you; he’s recently launched his own start-up; Dashboard Solutions to provide similar services to other companies.
Photograph 7 The last hours before going live with The Red Hot Chilli Peppers in front of the Great Pyramids
Photograph 9 The highest of the highs, producing then shooting the Red Hot Chilli Peppers live at the Pyramids
We’re a true work-from-home company, running all operations and teams remotely and efficiently thanks to the bulletproof and efficient accounting software and virtual office tools we have in place. We’re a small but powerful team, we believe in and are truly passionate about live engagement, and we’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years with household names in Egypt, Dubai, and New York. We’ve delivered kick-ass projects from inside the backs of cars, crouched over laptops in damp storage lockers, and even livestreamed mega-stars to millions during lockdown from our backyard… we love doing what we do and we love being with our clients as they feel the support of their online fans – in real-time.
Over the coming year, expect to learn much more about us, the services we offer, the benefits of live engagement and livestreaming to you as well as some kick-ass content from the projects we work on.
Wishing you all a productive and inspiring 2022
Founder & CEO