Creative Commons, Photos, and Me

Back in High School, I briefly flirted with the idea of trying to do something professional with photography. Luckily, I quickly realized this was a fairly terrible idea and decided to focus on cultivating it as a fun hobby that let me pretend I was creative while wielding massive pieces of glass and metal around like a modern-day warlord.

Eventually the whole concept of Flickr and publishing photos online appeared, and I was like woah now here’s how I can publish photos super easily! This is great! And soon the sticky issue of licensing my works appeared. Did I want them to be locked down and deny everyone the chance to reuse my photographs on the off chance some Generic Megacorp wanted to use it and pay me enough money to buy an abandoned missile silo deep in Eastern Washington? Turns out the answer was “YES” while in college. And that plan didn’t work out so well.


Instead I decided to license everything under Creative Commons Attribution 2 (CC BY 2.0). It’s a swell way to share your work with everyone (including businesses!) and try to make the world a better place. Or at least one that’s slightly more free (as in speech. And beer too, I guess). A side benefit of this is that you can see all of the odd places online where your photos were used by googling your Flickr handle. Crosscut liked a picture of some Ghost Highways. NPR in Northern Colorado thought some library pictures were swell.

If you’re into seeing your work show up in new and exciting places, Geotagging, manual tags, and full-resolution uploads are the way to go. Let’s be real here: this is how everyone searches for photos on Flickr.

So if you have a surplus of images that you ain’t doin’ nothing with and want to maybe have it be useful to others, license it with some form of Creative Commons! Flickr makes it super easy to do, and you have plenty of different licenses to choose from, including options as to how derivatives are handled and if commercial enterprises can use the photos.

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