Is Photography Worthless? Website Maker’s New Partnership Generates Controversy

By Kehl Bayern / November 19, 2018

Last Updated on by

One of the raging debates in the photography world these days is how much is a photograph worth?

There are so many stories about copyright infringement and the like that it is almost impossible to count them.

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You can read some of our favorites by clicking here, here, and here.

Image via Alexander Dummer from Pexels.com.

One thing that hasn’t helped is the ubiquity of digital media on the Internet and, particularly, on social media platforms.

It’s almost impossible to not have your work stolen.

But what really irks a lot of photographers is this culture that is growing up around these platforms that seems to say that photographs, and even video, have no value. The photographer should be thankful for the “exposure” or any other nonsense along those lines.

Of course, this proposition is usually couched in the language of helping other creatives who, we assume, would like to make money off of their work.





So why are photographers expected to give things away for free?

Photo Shelter had an awesome piece looking at the relationship between website creator Squarespace and photography archive Unsplash.

Specifically, Photo Shelter’s Allen Murabayashi draws issue with Squarespace’s partnership with Unsplash to replace demo imagery with high-quality, free photographs sourced from Unsplash.

Murabayashi quotes Squarespace, “ Now, instead of putting extra time or money into creating your own visuals, now you can simply replace the demo content on your chosen template with ease. Unsplash has an active group of contributing photographers from all around the world who have generously decided to share their work with others in the broader creative community, for free.”

As Murabayashi points out, with photographers being so generous, why isn’t everyone else being generous with their work?

It’s a two way street, and one where many photographers are becoming the victim of a hit and run.

Murabayashi also draws issue with the Unsplash Awards which are looking for photographs in 12 content categories.

The winners from each category will then have the opportunity to win an actual prize, albeit by lottery: “All categories winners will be automatically entered into a draw for a chance to win 1 of 3 free flights from Hopper, valued at $600 each.”

Of course, reactions from photographers on the Internet were less than positive.

That was probably to be expected.

But what do you think?

Has the rise of social media and the increase in the number of photographs taken every day by people of every background devalued the art? Or are people just being cheap?

Let us know in the comments.

About the author

    Kehl Bayern

    Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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