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Thursday, 04 February 2016 14:01

A stock photography renaissance

Written by Brendan Ihmig

Stock photography is one of those things that probably 99% of the world knows nothing about, yet sees it in action probably everyday of their lives. From tiny (annoying) online banner ads to gigantic roadside billboards, in boring company brochures to trendy magazine articles, stock photos are an essential part of our modern, visually saturated life. Basically, stock images are the alternative to sourcing images directly from a photographer or agency.

Service providers like iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and 123rf all essentially provide the same stock photo service with most images available, fitting a generic temple of sorts. Boring. Predictable. Sterotypical. Overused. That about sums up the bulk of the stock photo industry in my opinion... and then you have to pay for the images and then there are restrictions on how you may use 'their' images. However, I think there is a sort of 'Renaissance' taking place in the stock photography industry and it is being lead by Unsplash.

Unsplash, the creative brainchild of a Montreal startup Crew, is a unique and fresh take on the stock photo industry. While not fitting strictly into what defines a stock photo service, Unsplash colours over the lines and by so doing, has brought artfulness into this industry. More than just a creative artsy take on stock photography, Unsplash has disrupted the monetisation and use of stock photos.

All images are absolutely free on Unsplash's website and, as they put it, you can 'do whatever you want' with them; no copyrights, no restriction. All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which allows you to copy, distribute, modify and use the photos for free (including for commercial applications), without asking permission from or providing attribution to the actual photographer or Unsplash themselves. You can see some examples of Unsplash photos used in various applications on their 'Made with Unsplash' page.

Unsplash Photo Samples

By Annie Spratt

Chulmleigh, United Kingdo Read More

By Greg Rakozy

Providence, United States Read More

By Yamon Figurs

Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach, United State Read More

By Matteo Paganelli

Venice Beach and Boardwalk, Los Angeles, United States Read More

By Paul Earle

Bushy Park, Hampton, United Kingdom Read More

By Brendan Ihmig

Alishan National Scenic Area, Taiwan Read More

By Benjamin Combs

Big Cottonwood Canyon Read More

By Léa Dubedout

Quai d'Orsay, Paris, France Read More

By Joshua Jackson

Top of the Rock, New York, United States Read More

By Joshua Earle

Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland Read More
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Just as the Renaissance in Europe was the great revival of arts, I think in much the same way Unsplash, with help from services like Canva, will revive the stock photo industry, bringing it out of its 'dark age' and into a 'modern age' of stock photography.

If you are a photographer, I really want to encourage you to support Unsplash by submitting some of your own work to Unsplash and in so doing, you can be part of this Renaissance. To see my submissions check out my profile. You can also support Unsplash by purchasing, their soon to be published, coffee table book.


Let me know in the comments below what you think about Unsplash and if you agree that a Renaissance is happening in the stock photography industry.

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