Monday, May 10, 2010

Self Promotion & Licensing Control

As a photographer among the things that we concern ourselves with is self-promotion and trying to maximize our control over the licensed use of our produced works. Our abilities to earn a quality income for our talents as photographers is effected in part by our established reputation and the level of recognition we receive as an artist. And our ability to maximize income from the various licensed uses of our produced images is another factor in our ability to generate income.

For some photographers, the focus on trying to maximize control over all licensed usages of their work can be become a hindrance when it comes to trying to generate a high level of publicity through self-promotion efforts.
In my own career I come from the perspective of also working as a contracted web designer/webmaster for my various model clients. And in that vein, the regular use & distribution of "free" images for promotion of a model client's website was essential to generating a "buzz" on the net through placement in newsgroups, model directory sites, and any other web site that could make use of sexy pinup pics. That would in turn promote traffic back to a client's official website. The generated referral traffic back to the client website would convert into online memberships where fans could gain access to more custom created image content.

So the process of making "free" content regularly available helped in the promotion efforts, and in the long term it led to generating income. Back in my webmastering days my clients & I did not concern ourselves too much about worrying that some selected image was going to wind up being used illegally when we were producing & making available only low-res versions of the availble image sets. A regular graphic copyright stamp on each image was sufficient to protect the mutual photographic work that I and my model clients worked to create.

Since then the number of places for people to post their photos online has dramatically skyrocketed right along with the increase adoption of digital cameras by the general consumer. That increase in the availability of digital images online by both amateur and professional photographers makes for more opportunities to see images being used illegally without proper licensed use & compensation.

For the professional photographer, dealing with these issues of self-promotion, protecting their license rights to their work, trying to figure out how much of their work should be made available online, how to control image distribution, and ensuring that their rights are protected while still allowing for future compensation to be earned, has gotten a bit easier with an organization and online tools that have come to my attention. That organization is a non-profit corporation called Creative Commons.

Creative Commons allows for photographers and artists to define the level of creative rights and control that they wish to specify for a given work. You can use the online tools offered by Creative Commons to define what can and cannot be done commercially with a given piece of registered art or of a collection of art. Essentially six different license types can be defined. The generated license type can then be placed on an artist website, and the specific license terms are noted for everyone to learn and know.

As a photographer, if you wish to allow your images for free distribution for promotion purposes, and not allow any commercial usage or modification you can do so by selecting their most restrictive license. The licensing tools offered by Creative Commons are free to use.

Among the online tools and services offered for professional photographers, I feel that the Creative Commons organization has to be included in the
"Must Have-Must Need to Know" category.

You can visit their site at: to learn more about their service. I encourage you to check it out.

And I encourage all photographers to feel more confident about using and distributing their work online for purposes of shameless self-promotion. You can only gain more from it in the long term than you would worrying about some sense of loss of control in licensed use of your images. No matter what, your still in control of your work. Creative Commons just gives you a means to publicly define that control for yourelf, your fans, and your customers.

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