When I started getting serious about photography and began posting images on Flickr, I was extremely protective of my images. In my mind, everything was copyrighted–I owned the rights to my images and no one was going to use them without my permission for at least 75 years after I died. I wanted control and did everything I could technically to limit the ability for anyone to use my images. I also trusted that viewers would respect the © and not copy my images without my permission. It was no surprise, but that was a naive mindset and I found some of my material illegally posted on other websites.
My initial response was to pull the plug–remove everything, remove access. In the big scheme of things, removing my presence online was not the answer–nor even a real option. I still wanted to share my work.
As I struggled through a way ahead, I stumbled upon an interview with Tim Ferriss and his book “The Four Hour Work Week.” In a nutshell, he told the story of finding his book pirated and posted online for free. His reaction was what any of us in the creative world (photographers, writers, musicians, etc.) would have been–theft and the loss of sales. A colleague of Tim’s made the comment that the people who downloaded his book for free, probably would not have bought it anyway. In the end, what he was loosing in sales, he was gaining in exposure.
One element that all photographers (and writers) want (and need) is exposure. To make it, to break out, we need exposure. “Exposure” and helping others changed my view on copyrighting everything I own.
I decided to open up a significant number of photos under a “Creative Commons” license for anyone to use with the assumption that whoever used the images would attribute them to me. This mental shift put me back in control of my work. I release the images I want to release under creative commons. Anyone can go through those images and use the ones they need. My better work, I still copyright. My best work, never makes it to the internet.
Here’s the cool thing–it is really neat helping another blogger with my images. There is a good feeling helping others–helping strangers convey their story better. To see those creative commons images and my name on another website is extremely rewarding.
So, you’re out there taking a million images a day. You have shots of pencils, tools, tomatoes, blurred dogs, and a bunch of other things not worth printer paper–nothing spectacular, nothing worth a frame.
For photographers, there just might be a blogger out there who is looking for a pencil jammed into a blurred tomato for a story their working on. Scratch that writer’s back–share your gift.
For writers, scratch back and give credit to the “other creative” who helped your story.
Copyright © 2012 Gary Cooper Photography. All Rights Reserved.