Saturday, August 13, 2016

Giving it all away

Photo: Samuel Zeller CC0
I found a nice testimony to the power of sharing in a post by a Swiss photographer called Samuel Zeller, Giving my images for free. He shares many of his best photos on a site called Unsplash and makes them freely available for copying and reusing under a Creative Commons CC0 license (public domain, author waives all rights). This may seem insane to many people when he could try to sell these images but his post makes a very strong case for the power of sharing. By sharing his work in this way he has increased his visibility as a photographer to a staggering level - 184 images have been viewed 63 million times and downloaded 613,000 times. His free photos have been used by major companies and he hasn't received a cent for this. However the free images link to his main portfolio and this leads to clients asking for special commissions and this is where he makes his money.

Why should I need to sell images if I have clients paying me to shoot specific images ? To me working for a client face to face is rewarding, way more than making money on digital sales to people I will never interact with.

It's not a case of giving everything away for free but sharing an impressive sample of your material that will attract attention and lead to more serious business later. It's basically the same the freemium model that many online tools and services offer; letting you use a basic version of the service for free in the hope that you will want to upgrade to the commercial version later.

I have benefitted enormously by sharing my lectures, blog posts, slideshows, articles etc. since they have lead to all sorts of people contacting me and asking if I can speak at their conference, write something for their journal or website or joining a project they are planning. Many of us work for smaller projects as volunteers in our free time, not only because it's interesting and fun but also because that volutary work usually pays off in the end through reputation building or commissioned work.

Of course not everyone has the luxury of being able to share everything they do. Bills have to be paid and those who share normally have a secure employment. The skill is realising that a certain level of sharing has more benefits than drawbacks. If you don't share anything and hope that people will pay to discover your work you will not get far today. Free sharing is your shop window. As Zeller concludes:

There’s no point in being talented if nobody can see what you do.

No comments:

Post a Comment