my experience after using Unsplash

Earlier this year I signed up to Unsplash. If you have never heard of Unsplash, it is essentially a platform to share your work on for anyone to download it for free. Once you upload a photo to Unsplash you have agreed with their licence that basically means any person, company, brand etc can download this full resolution photo and use it for profit or pleasure, without having to (although highly recommended) credit the photographer.

I was convinced by some friends that it was a great idea and to me, at the time I agreed and went ahead with it. What drew me to it was the extremely high amount of views that your work can get that in theory will pull people to your website and push your name out there to a bunch of people/brands. 

After uploading my first photo onto the site it completely blew up and I was quite shocked and excited which left me motivated to upload more and more. Which I did, and some photos would do great, some not so great. In the early days of a freelance photographer trying to make their mark, push their work, find clients and boost their popularity it seems like a great opportunity. 

From using Unsplash for the 4-5 months that I had it, I had accumulated a total of 8,842,392 views and 56,979 downloads of my work. 3 work enquiries, 2 from smaller companies, 1 from a worldwide company that most people will have heard of and 1 Collaboration offer from another big company on a new app launch. Which is great right? except every single of those opportunities fell through or became not what was agreed in the first place.

How often do you scroll through the Instagram explore page, double tap a photo and scroll on without paying attention to who took that photo? I know I do quite often, and I feel that it works the same for the majority on Unsplash. People scroll through the different sections in search for something they would like, they click download, and then forget. I am not saying this is everyone because people do credit you for using your photo, but there is also a lot of people that don't. A number of times I would be tagged in facebook adverts by bigger and smaller companies that have downloaded and used my photo for profit with no credit. Which obviously has left me to feel completely exploited by not only the brand but Unsplash also. And I know you are sat there thinking "why did you sign up in the first place because you knew that would happen". Except I didn't. 

I like to think I work hard, I invest 99% of my time, money and effort into turning my passion into a proper career path. When you see a photo used for profit by a company that you spent time planning, woke up early hours of the morning, drove hours, spent hard earned money on, and spent hours and days and months and years of your time you have put in to learn your craft. You don't see your name under the photo, you can imagine the feeling right? Yeah, it's not a great feeling I can assure you.

After deciding to delete my account, I received an email from one of the directors asking why I left. I replied in a polite and professional manner and gave my reasons why, along with how it made me feel as a professional photographer newish to the industry which I received no reply too. Again, back to the feeling crappy. 

A couple of months after leaving Unsplash, I find email in my inbox from the same person who emailed to ask why I left, addressed to "Shane". Erm, I'm Ryan. The subject to this email is 'Love your photos' and the body of this email contains a short essay of reasons why you should join Unsplash and share your work for free. It seems that they spend their time trolling Instagram for email addresses of who they feel are vulnerable photographers that will be excited of the idea of giving away their work for free in return for the millions of views you will receive. One of the motives was "Almost 2 billion photos are viewed every month on Unsplash, and a photo featured on Unsplash is seen more than a top Instagram account or the cover of the New York Times" I then think to myself, the more photographers that sign up to Unsplash, the less significant your work becomes as there is more and more people giving their work away for free. This then will affect photographers who make a living from selling stock photos, photographers who license their photos to companies and those companies can now go to photographers on Unsplash and pay them less than if they were to go direct or through an agency that represent professionals. It also makes companies think our work is something they don't need to pay for and for bigger companies and brands to completely exploit us as a photographer. Lets face it, if you are making a substantial figure from photography, why would you give your photos away for free? Granted, it helps smaller companies that don't have a budget for photography but it doesn't help the photographer trying to pay their rent and feed themselves and their family. 

The way I look at it is if I made 50p (which isn't much) from every photo downloaded from my account, I'd have £28,489.50 (which is a lot) in my bank account right now that would help go to towards equipment upgrades and trips to create more and more of my work. Instead, I spent my time getting frustrated from companies using my photos for profit, replying to potential work opportunities that never got back to me and generally doubting my own worth.

I understand that this can seem quite biased, although I just wanted to share my experience with other photographers\artists like myself that have thought about using Unsplash so you will be able to hear about my own personal experience and the highs and lows that went along with it. I hope that people can learn something from this instead of learning the hard way. Or not? that's for anyone else to decide.

*Disclaimer* - I am in no way trying to turn anyone against, this is simply just a review of my experience with Unsplash.com.

Ursula

Went for a mooch around Kew and shot some photos with @ursh_

 

Scotland

3 friends, a 4x4, a rooftent, 2000 miles, 53hours driving, 1 shower, 0 personal space, average food and very limited phone service was just a few things to explain 6 days of my life this month. 

Felix, Lydia and Myself hit the road for 6 days to experience the more remote parts of the UK in the highlands of Scotland. In order, we visited Glen Coe and Glen Etive. Camped in the car park of Loch Etive that evening. FUCK MIDGIES.

We then headed to Isle of Skye - Old Man of Storr, Quiraing and Neist Point Lighthouse, got pretty went on Skye, it rains a lot, but its absolutely stunning.

On to Bealach na Bà and we were lucky enough to be greeted with some more rain and thick fog, the view from the top was non existent.

Next location was Bow Fiddle Rock, Which seemed to be one of the locations in more of a civilised area's. I'm not sure how some of the residents felt whist we were cooking burgers on the side of the road...

After the burgers, I thought it would be a good idea to get back on the road to head 3 and a half hours north to Durness which was a great idea until we realised it was a single track road for over 30 miles full of deer so it took a lot longer than your average motorway (m25 questionable). Needless to say, I really couldn't complain when we arrived. Dying for a pee I get out the car, walk 20 ft and go for a peaceful pee at 1.30am right next to the beach. Little to my surprise I look up into the sky and see the glowing aura of the northern lights. Never have I wanted to stop peeing so quick! I called Felix to just get reassurance my eyes were actually seeing this, he confirmed and we rushed to the car, grabbed the camera's and sat there taking photo after photo with the cheesiest grin on my face. DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

5 minutes down the road we headed to Smoo cave, I can remember being so hungry at this point and no where opened until midday, pot noodles for breakfast it was.

Kylesku bridge was next on the list, so we hopped in the car and drove down there, of course, it wouldn't be Scotland if it didn't rain, but I'm fine with that because I don't think I will ever get such a perfectly framed photo of a rainbow again. MIND BLOWN.

After a quick stop and Glenfinnan bridge - and missing the harry potter train by minutes :(, we headed down to the lake district for one night, spent the day there before heading back home. 

I'd like to thank Island Feather for giving myself the opportunity to work with them on their new product, which was a very cosy tent to sleep in on top of the car. 

Sorry for my extremely uninteresting words, writing isn't my strong point.

Check out the photo's below. 

Peace!

Genevieve

Genevieve Randall of W Model Management

Sgwd Henrhyd

After heading to Bristol earlier last week to see Felix Russell-Saw and work towards future projects, we decided to head to Henrhyd Waterfall for the day. In true Wales style it started raining as soon as we got there and didn't stop for hours, thank god my set up is weatherproof and that the weatherproofing did its job. I also filmed a video which will be live soon.

Photo set below!

 

Chapmans Pool, Dorset

Message a friend, pack a camera (or 2), get in the car, drive 2 hours, walk 45minutes, shoot photo's of sunset. Sounds like my sorta thing. In the recent year I really had no idea about how amazing the UK's coastline really is, especially the more untouched, less touristy area's. A few photo's below from Chapmans Pool in Dorset, UK with Dec Lepage and Sam.

 

Harri Martin

Caught up with Harri Martin @harrietfinleymartin at the beach on an insanely hot day in the sun. 

Harri Martin of Nemesis Models

Lucy and Vicki

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to accompany Felix Russell Saw to shoot Lucy and Vicki's absolutely stunning wedding in the grounds of a lovely ladies house in Bristol. From getting married in a greenhouse to partying outside under a tipi all night, could anything be more perfect? 

Anyway, here are some of my photo's from the day. 

1 more thing, tell your friends, family, and anyone else you meet that are getting married, I will happily shoot it :D 

 

Cornwall surf trip

A couple of weeks ago now I decided after looking at the weather forecast that I needed to head to the beach. Tom Fitzsimmons (@tomfitszy) and myself drive down to Newquay for 2 nights. We only shot sunset both evenings as we were too busy in the water failing miserably at learning to surf for the better part of the days. These images were shot at Bedruthan Steps, Porth Beach and Porthcothan Beach that is from the sky. Check those images out below, Peace.