After reading about Unsplash on Medium and noting the new association between the two platforms, I thought I’d dip a toe in the water and see what all the fuss is about.
I’ve put 20 or so photos on there for a couple of months. This is what I’ve found so far.
The Good — Engagement.
A couple of those photos have had lots of views and quite a number of downloads. That’s great, I’m glad people like them. If I went back and tagged them better, they may even get seen more. In fact I may try that.
The views are over 15,000 with over 100 downloads.
There seems to be no way to alert pictures that have the wrong tags. If I search for Poppies, I want poppies. Not marigolds, anemones or a host of other flowers the user has inadvertently tagged incorrectly. Sometimes it’s just an irritation but if someone doesn’t know the difference it could cause problems. I’d like to be able to tell the photographer about a mistake so that it can be corrected but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do that.
The photographer gets paid nothing. Zero. Zilch. The downloader is using that image in some way. Often on Medium. Could they not at least pay a peppercorn amount just to say thanks? I get that it’s expensive using images from stock sites but a nominal amount is within most people’s reach. Or how about a membership such as that on Medium? $5 a month gets you access to as many images as you want, proceeds divvied up in line with downloads? Or if that is not a feasible option, how about helping traffic reach the photographer’s own site? Maybe with a link in that thank you along side the Unsplash link.
The Ugly — Just bad Images.
I know this is subjective and we all like different stuff, but some of the images are just bad. The only stipulation seems to be resolution — how many pixels there are. Surely there could be a way of weeding out the dross? The site advertises itself as having free beautiful images. Many of them are beautiful, many of them are not. Hopefully the algorithm will drop poor images to the bottom so you don’t have to go through as many but as the popularity and number of images grows perhaps a more robust system will become necessary.
Unsplash is doing a great job of making images available for free. It’s not great at helping photographers earn a living because who wants to pay for images when free one’s are available. The argument may be that those images are sat there doing nothing on your hard drive but why not help the people helping Unsplash have a great site?
Do you use images from Unsplash? Would you be prepared to pay a small amount to use those images or become a member to get access?
It is currently extremely difficult to make a living as a photographer. Unsplash is another nail in that coffin with Photographers becoming the new Starving Artists.
Do you have any experience with Unsplash? I’d love to hear about it. Maybe you could share in the comments.