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.