Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Thoughts On Giving Away Photos

Tonka Trucks

Irene chimed in yesterday to my post about giving away all my photos for free:

"Hi! I just recently found your blog. I am an aspiring photographer and I find your photos amazing and inspiring!

I also found this post very interesting. I have read so about so many others who cover their photos with huge watermarks, include stern warnings about NOT using their photos and refuse to enable the "all sizes" on Flickr for fear of a photo being used.

I have opted for the less fearful option (and I am not sure who would want my photos anyway). I never use watermarks, I never include warnings and I allow "all sizes".

In my limited experience, it also seems that often the less talented photographer is the one most fearful. Can you give me some more information on why you choose to encourage your photos to be used, even without your permission?

Thanks so much!"

Thanks for the comment Irene. Allow me to elaborate a bit.

We live in a world where anything and everything is available on the web...usually for free. It is expected that you can get whatever you want for free, including photos. So if someone sees a use for one of my photos, they're probably going to just use it, copyrights be damned.

It used to bother me a little bit. Not anymore. Let's take the truck photo above for example. I will more than likely never make any money off it. Joe Blogger might have some use for it on a blog post, but he's not willing to pay for it. He'll either steal it or move on. Why not just let him use it? At least this way he'll credit me for the photo (most likely).

I take photos for my own enjoyment. But I also want to share them with the world. Why take photos no one will see? After all, this is why I created Photowalking Colorado, so I could show my images to the world.

Besides, though I won't make any money on the photos now, what happens if this blog becomes really popular, thanks to all the links back to it through use of the photos? What happens when thanks to all that extra traffic, some marketing guy sees a photo that they really want to use in an ad? More than likely that company won't just rip off the photo (since there's a no commercial license on them). They'll contact me, and pay me for the use. Whoa, now I'm making money by giving stuff away for free. Or even better, what if said company decides to commission me to do some photography work for them based on what they see? Oh yeah.

I'm not saying that will happen, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities. There are a handful of photobloggers out there making a little extra change on their photos for two reasons. First, they take great photos that people like. Second, they give them away, thus making them more popular and increasing the "foot traffic" on their images, leading to sales.

Now of course there are some photos that don't get the ol' Creative Commons license. For example, I would never give away the licenses for my portrait sessions. Otherwise my clients would just run off and take the photos to Sam's Club. Nah, that's part of my living.

It's interesting that you mention that the amateurs are usually those who most fear stolen photos. But it's odd that those are the same people least likely to sell any photos to begin with. You have to be a better business person than a photographer to go anywhere with your photography.

So there you have it. This is why I give photos away for free.

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