Some years ago I got the idea from someone I follow on Twitter that it would be a positive thing to publish a bunch of photographs under the Creative Commons Attribution license. I have now – finally – got around to it. Currently I have 84 images under CCA. I intend to add to that every month.
Flickr had a rejuvenation recently even since Marissa Mayer became Yahoo’s CEO. And despite criticisms, it offers photographers a solid platform to show and compare their work. In my opinion it is the best platform for publishing CCA licensed images. There are three general categories of the Creative Commons license. I have chosen Attribution: anyone, for any reason, can republish your photographs as long as they credit you. There are no contracts, no permissions, no royalties, no back-and-forth emails. Of course, CC licenses do not (and cannot) override other laws such as model release requirements etc.
So why give away some of my photographs? Doesn’t that devalue my work and the work of other photographers? Aren’t many photographers already under financial strain? I am giving away my photographs because it’s fun. You never know where they will end up. And it’s nice to know that somebody decided that your photo was worth using. And unlike other assignments, shooting stock – professionally or not – gives you 100% freedom. There’s not a lot of time pressure, you don’t need to travel, you shoot when it suits you, and you don’t need the best equipment. You just need a little bit of imagination.
Oh, and by the way, if you think that it’s okay for digital cameras to make photography cheaper for more people, but you also think that it’s not okay for clients to pay less for our product, you live in a fantasy land where your tools are effectively free but your output is expensive. Besides, stock is a very small part of the market. There are new weddings, conferences, concerts, events etc. presenting themselves every day. Almost twenty years ago, in the wonderful 1990s, I started building a portfolio which I would eventually submit to The Image Bank, one of the biggest stock agencies in the world. It was a slow start, partly due to financial limitations. My equipment was limited to an Olympus OM-1, a few lenses and a macro adapter. If I remember correctly, I was using mostly Ektachrome Elite 100 and some Kodachrome.
I never did submit anything to The Image Bank. Time flew, digital took over (for better or worse, you decide), and there was not much value left in stock photography. Stock collections grew while prices dropped. And microstock more or less killed traditional stock. I thought, why bother? Then I got an idea by someone I follow on Twitter, a programmer and retro computing enthusiast who has a bunch of images on Flickr under CCA. I instantly knew that was what I wanted to do.
The new paradigm could be that free stock would kill microstock – I would help kill the monster which prematurely killed my potential career. AFAIK, the karmic consequences for this type of revenge are zero. ;-) The equipment I have used for all of my CCA images so far have been the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5S. They won’t be useful for big enlargements but I expect most of them will be used on web pages. I find the iPhone easy to work with as it has plenty of DOF, minimal distortion, good sharpness and nice colour. Above all else, I have it with me almost everywhere I go. Of course if it’s convenient I’ll use my bigger cameras, but I rarely take those out with me.
I still have The Image Bank catalogues from the ’90s and it still feels good looking through them. Not only are the images technically excellent and often beautiful (virtually none were filtered or manipulated, thankfully), but there was a possible career in those pages. Back then, you could still submit hand drawn illustrations. You could even submit computer graphics, photographed directly from your monitor! They are very evocative and bring feelings of what felt like simpler times.
My hope is that readers of this site will be encouraged to build a collection of images to be placed under the CCA license. My set of CCA images is here: