Despite the fact that I sell photos for profit as a business, I post a ton of my work to Flickr, where it’s available to be viewed by a community of millions of users from around the globe. Many photographers won’t use sites such as Flickr due to a fear that folks will use the site to obtain and use their work illegally. It’s a valid concern, but not one that prevents me from sharing online.
I’m a strong believer in copyright and the ownership of one’s work. I’m also a strong believer in giving back to a community, and the reality is that no photographer is truly self-taught. We all look at the works of others and improve our technique from what we see. A diverse, large community of photographers (such as that on Flickr or photo.net) provides a great resource for learning. Regardless of your particular photographic interests, equipment, or locations, there’s likely to be a Flickr group for that topic. A Flickr pro membership is only $25/year and the amount of quality work, discussion, and inspirations make it a great investment for any photographer.
I post my photos to Flickr in order to participate and give back to the photo community. The images are of a resolution which looks great on screen but isn’t of a high enough quality to be used for a large print. Flickr provides a good method to easily organize and share a variety of my work, and my Flickr stream has led to quite a few referrals and photo leads (actually just last night I was contacted by someone about licensing a photo they saw on Flickr).
Could someone steal a photo? Potentially. Do I feel that the benefit of the community and potential sales leads outweighs the risk of someone swiping a low-res image? Yes. Until something changes to tip that balance, you’ll continue to find a bunch of my work on Flickr.
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Brian15 Aug 2008
Well said, Aaron. I completley agree. I think that anytime you put a photo online (anywhere, not just Flickr), you run that small risk. And if you happen to find somewhere that has done this, simply email or call the offender and tell them ro remove it, or follow your licensing policy.