Press Club

Courthouse-Based Storyblocks Offers Affordable Stock Video, Images and Audio

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Arlington-based Storyblocks began its startup journey when founder Joel Holland was just in high school in Northern Virginia working on a web series.

Holland was interviewing prominent business leaders, including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for the series asking what teenagers should choose to do after graduating high school.

“He was sitting down with then Governor Schwarzenegger and did this really insightful interview but the cinematography, if you will, was rather bland. It was just a camera pointed at a tripod pointed at the side of two people’s heads. Not exactly must see TV,” Storyblocks CEO TJ Leonard said.

That’s when Holland researched how companies like the Smithsonian, Discovery and National Geographic produce such high quality documentaries, and the answer was stock video and images. So when Holland went to purchase his own stock video the total rounded up to $1,500.

“Of course for a high school student with no budget that was a total nonstarter,” Leonard said. “So that was the moment Joel said to himself ‘Wow there have got to be more people like me who want access to high quality creative content that’s affordable and I bet in the future there are going to be even more people like me.”’

Storyblocks’ current mission is to empower digital storytellers through high quality affordable stock media, said Leonard. The company has three subscription plans: $49 per month, $149 per year and $198 per year for a premium subscription that allows you to manage up to five “submembers” for free.

The regular monthly and annual plan allow unlimited downloads and usage of content from the member library and a discount on a marketplace of millions of other videos. The free member library has $10 million worth of content across video, audio and images, according to the company.

More than 40,000 people contribute to Storyblocks’ global network of content creators, Leonard said.

Storyblocks has gone through several transformations and one move since its inception in 2009. The startup moved last July from Reston to Courthouse, because it needed more space and wanted to be more accessible to its employees by being so close to the Metro, Leonard said.

Storyblocks began as Footage Firm, which shipped stock footage through the mail via DVDs. Leonard said once the startup realized that DVDs were a “dying medium” it digitized its entire archive in 2012 and changed the name to Videoblocks with an online subscription model.

The company rebranded again in 2017 to Storyblocks when it launched stock services for photos and audio as well.

“So many artists today don’t think of themselves as a videographer per se. They think of themselves as a storyteller. They’ll use skills, they’ll use motion, they’ll use music. They’ll use whatever they need to in order to communicate their vision,” Leonard said.

Photos courtesy Storyblocks

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