For many photographers, when they distribute their photos they would prefer to have some sort of monetary compensation for their work, which is totally understandable. You can’t really pay the bills in exposure, if you know what I mean. With that said, however, I still think it’s important to give back to the community by providing some Creative Commons work on websites such as Unsplash.
I’ve been posting to Unsplash for a few years now. If you don’t know what the platform is, it’s a free-to-use photo sharing site that allows photographers to post photos with tags and Unsplash helps designers and anyone who needs stock images find them! It’s a really smooth system, and if you photos are good enough, Unsplash will even feature them on the home page.
This might sound like the photographer is not getting much out of this while the users coming to download the free photos are reaping the benefits, which might be true in some cases, but in my experience I’ve seen my photos all over the internet from MSN to FastCompany to Business Insider to PopSugar and ad campaigns for companies like ScholarshipOwl and Clearasil. Not only is it rewarding to see your work using like that but also it allows you to include those as portfolio samples.
In one case, even, a t-shirt printing company that produces for a large European fast fashion store reached out to me to ask if they could place my image on one of their graphic tees. Now, not only is my work on over 35,000 shirts, but they also compensated me as well and I now have a great relationship with the company with more work coming out in the future.
I’m not saying to go into this with the hope that your photo will be sold internationally, but this goes hand-in-hand with the concept that you get out what you put in. I think by giving back to the community not only are you making the world a better place but you’re setting yourself up for success in the future as well.