Using Creative Commons as an amateur photographer

December 19, 2014

I’ve been asked not once, but twice this week if people could use my images in their own projects. Naturally, I allow pretty much anyone to use my images that have a CC-license on it (most of my images on flickr) and I’m pretty sure I’d allow the usage of my non-cc images as well, for free.

The reason why I allow people to use my images are mostly because I’ve invested a lot of money in my gear and a lot of time in this hobby, and if somebody finds one of my images fitting to their project, I’ll only be happy if they want to use it. If I’d actually work as a photographer, my attitude might’ve been different, but seeing as I’m just another amateur photographer, it’s all for fun.

I try to add CC to all of my pictures, except those which contain people. Mainly because even though I have the legal right to give away such a picture for publication, I feel it’s not ethically nor morally correct to do so. (unless it’s people passing by in a public location or if the person in question can not be identified, i.e. her/his face is obscured some how).

Anwyay, I started thinking, some people ask, which is nice — but not a requirement for the CC-license, how many others have used my pictures? I started to google after my images. And I was actually pretty surprised that they’re being used out there.

invert-siteThe image is found on my flickr account, and also in this blog post, “Spray painting with Calle and Elias”.

For example, Inv3rt Lifestyle Innovators, uses one of my pictures on their front page, and truthfully, when I took that picture I didn’t realize it would be used in Denver, actually, come to think about it, my only thought that moment was the framing of the image, and wishing I wouldn’t get any paint on my lens.

polygon-siteOne of my images published on Polygon. The image is found both on my flickr account, as well as in the post “DreamHack Stockholm 2014”

Another example that I found was on the gaming news site Polygon (I read their sister site The Verge a lot, so this is almost an honour), one of my images from DreamHack has been used for one of their articles. You could almost argue that I’m a published photographer!

I found a couple of other images, but most of them were either in lists (“Beautiful subway stations around the world”, “New year’s evenings around the world”, etc.) or then in some blog-posts/articles. The above examples were pretty much the only one that really stuck out. But, small blog, large news site, I get happy when ever my images are used.

Northern Lights, Lonely House“Lonely House” on flickr

It would be interesting knowing how people find CC images, and what kind of meta data they look for. The way I upload stuff on flickr is usually try to add as relevant tags as possible, a relevant title — usually containing the event, place and year (if there’s a lot of pictures from the same event, and I don’t feel like coming up with a unique name for each and every one, I just give the same name to all of them), and of course, last but not least, I set the license to “Creative common – Attribution”, which as far as I can tell is the most permissible license possible with flickr. When ever I feel like going the extra mile, I also add the pictures to the flickr map.

You might wonder why I go for the most permissible license? The reason is that I quite frankly don’t care if people change the image (cropping, adding text, whatever) and I feel like the “Non-commercial”-license is too vague. Really, anything is commercial, and if somebody wants to make money by selling one of my images; so be it, I’m not going to sell them, so I can hardly argue a loss-of-sale because of it. If I’ll ever take a photo that I genuinely thought I would want to sell, I wouldn’t upload it to flickr, that’s for sure.

direction“Running in the right direction” on flickr

Some people will argue that you shouldn’t work for free, and giving away an image for publishing is basically working for free. I disagree, obviously, if somebody ordered a picture from me, i.e. “I want a picture of ducks fighting”, I’d probably want some kind of reimbursement, but if somebody finds a picture that I’ve taken, which I’ve never even thought about selling, I can’t see why not?