A friend recently asked me, “Eric — why do you give away your photos and stuff for free? Aren’t you worried that people are just going to copy this stuff, and claim it as their own? You also realize that you can make a ton of money off this stuff, and monetize it more.”
It is a legitimate question. Why do I give away all this articles, videos, e-books, and my photos for free? All of the content on this blog and whatever I produce is “open source” — meaning, you can download them, edit them, re-distribute them, or remix them however you would like.
The growth of society depends on sharing
I’m quite interested in anthropology and sociology. What I’ve discovered is that the growth of society depends on sharing. Sharing of resources, information, and ideas.
The more a society is open and free, the more the members can grow, evolve, and empower one another.
I give thanks a lot to my personal growth to information on the internet, to my loving teachers and mentors, and wisdom from the ancients. If their information, knowledge, and love wasn’t accessible to me— I would never be able to fulfill my potential.
When I was a broke-ass student in college, paying for textbooks that were $300 and up was bullshit. I wanted to desperately learn, but the cost of a lot of my classes and courses was often prohibitive. While I photocopied as many books as I could, I often didn’t have the convenience to buy these expensive books, and perhaps lost out on some education and learning.
With photography, it is still prohibitively expensive to learn in a lot of ways. Photo schools cost an arm and a leg, as well as art school. The great thing is there is a lot more useful educational material for photographers online, but 99% of the internet for photographers is mostly camera/gear reviews.
I know so many talented photographers who have so much potential— and I know that by sharing a little of what I know can help them become the best photographers they can. And hopefully they can continue to share that joy, love, and information to others. To “pay it forward.”
The more you share, the more you grow
What I’ve discovered being a teacher is that the more I teach, the more I learn, and the more I grow.
The more generous I am sharing information with others, the more I need to master the information myself, and therefore I learn for my own benefit.
The more generous I am with my information on this blog, the more opportunities come my way.
The more I give, the more I receive in return. And the more information I share about street photography, the more the entire genre grows. And everyone benefits.
I give away my full-resolution images for free (on my website and Flickr), because I believe that images can empower, brighten up, and bring joy to the lives of others. I like the idea that anyone can use my photos to create high-resolution wallpapers (maybe when they are stuck at the office job they hate), or that they can print it for their own walls. And to be selfish, the more that my images are spread, the more “famous” I become— and the more my images can become known.
So really, being generous can be a greedy strategy. Because the truth is, people are drawn to generous people. We hate stingy people.
So friend— you don’t need to do what I do. But see how you can be more generous in your photography — and how you can also benefit. I believe the world can be a “win/win” scenario — help others win, and you will win as well.