Recently I decided to release nearly all of my music photos on flickr under a Creative Commons license. Essentially this means that people can freely use the images without seeking permission first. This move isn’t a big deal – I don’t have a spectacular portfolio of breathtaking concert photos – but to see images of this kind, released in this way and by people like me seems extremely rare.
I think the notion of choosing to relinquish some of your rights goes against the grain for most hobbyist-turned-semi-pro photographers (me included initially, I admit). The thrill of ‘turning pro’ seems to ignite a fierce obsession with your right to completely control how and where your photos are used, often resulting in images with huge watermarks and strongly-worded flickr captions warning of dire consequences should anyone embed the picture in their Justin Bieber fan page without asking. This is especially true in the world of concert photography. That’s fine if you want to have to deal with the fact that people will do just that no matter what you say – this is the internet after all.
Well I gave it some thought and decided it was all a bit silly. First of all, are my pictures really that good? Nope. Nowadays almost anyone can equip themselves with the tools needed to produce incredible photos, and guess what – many do just that. Secondly, I want people to see my photos, and I like to share! And finally, when I think back to what money I have made taking photos of bands and concerts, would it have made the blindest bit of difference if the pictures were made available under a CC license? No.
The way I see it, casting off all of this ridiculous pretence about ‘turning pro’ will only set you free. For the future, I hope that if someone sees a photo I took and wants to use it, that they’ll see the CC license and gladly proceed to do so. I should get the appropriate credit in any case, and my online ‘audience’ might even grow as a result. It’s all good.