A revolutionary idea/strategy to succeed in today’s world as a photographer: go open-source.
What is open source?
First of all, what is ‘open source’?
Open source is to keep things open and free– and keeps the ‘source’ file free of restrictions, for anyone to access, edit, and change.
Generally, the concept of ‘open source’ is used in technology. Open source technology, utilities, and tools (such as wordpress.org which powers this blog) is good for innovation. By keeping the source code open for anyone to access and edit, changes, innovations, new improvements, and new features are instituted much quicker. Not only that, but open-source is generally more open and democratic (like Android), which allows for greater freedom of access, especially to those with lesser social-economic/financial means.
Is open-source free?
The interesting thing is that you can still charge money for open-source things. There is no rule against it.
I personally was greatly inspired by ‘open source’, because I grew up poor, and I didn’t have access to expensive tools/utilities. Thus, open source helped empower me — through open source tools and resources that I was able to get for free on the web.
Other tools/technologies which have empowered me include Google, archive.org, gutenberg.org, and all the free ePub/PDF files I can get online.
I made a vow when I was 18 years old:
When I become ‘successful’, I am going to dedicate my life giving back to the community.
So many people empowered me and helped me to get me where I am today, and thus, it is my duty to “pay it forward”.
Open Source Photography
In photography, the concept of ‘open source’ didn’t really exist. In 2010, I wrote “My Vision of Open Source Photography” — in which I wrote a mini-manifesto of sorts, to promote a free-flow of information around photography, to empower all photographers from all around the world, regardless of their financial means.
In 2013, I put together a free Open Source Online Street Photography Course, giving the educational information to anyone who wanted to learn more about street photography. I also allowed free full-resolution downloads of my images for free, where you can download on my Flickr or on my portfolio.
Also from 2010-2018, I have written over 22 free and open-source photography e-books, allowing for the source files to be accessed, in case anyone wanted to remix, translate, or change/share the book.
Open Source as a Business Model For Photographers
I didn’t realize it yet, but my radical idea of open source as a strategy ended up really paying off. The more open I kept my information, the more it spread. The more famous ‘ERIC KIM’ became, and built more trust with my followers. This also made people who wanted to learn more in-person end up attending one of my workshops, or purchase my products.
Also with keeping full-resolution images of my images available online for free, my images have taken a life of their own– spreading through the internet, and into the minds of my viewers. But doesn’t this prevent me from selling my photos as prints? To the contrary — I started to sell limited-edition art portfolio prints of my work, and made limited-edition signed copies, which I sold for premium prices.
Information is Free
I don’t know about you, but I dislike paying for information. I have a radical view that information should be open and free– if it can help empower humanity for the better.
When will we pay for information?
However, this is my theory:
People nowadays don’t want to pay for information, BUT they will pay for EDITED/formatted/organized information.
For example, I am willing to shell out a lot of money for ebooks on Amazon Kindle or .ePub/PDF ebooks of writers I support, as long as the information is packaged in a nicer format than just blog posts. This is what has helped the digital sales of HAPTICPRESS flourish, because Cindy Nguyen (editor) and Annette Kim (illustrator) put massive effort to put together a well-curated, edited, and designed book.
How you can harness ‘open source’ to profit as a photographer
I see ‘open source’ more as a philosophy of openness and access than anything.
Some practical ideas/strategies which may help you thrive as a photographer:
- Turn off annoying copyright protection/watermarks/protection on your images. Perhaps if people have easy, unimpeded access to your photos, they are more likely to book you or hire you as a photographer.
- Don’t make your living selling photos/prints, but use your photos as marketing material to brand yourself as a good photographer, and perhaps make a living teaching your own photography workshops, giving consulting advice, or helping teach other photographers.
- Give away your blog posts, ebooks, presets, videos, and information for free, but charge premium money for your photographic services. Either give away your information for free, or BE EXPENSIVE. Charge 25% more money for your photographic services than you think you should, and only do free photography work for close friends/family (not for clients). Remember: your photographic labor is not free.
Innovate with the spirit of open source
Open source will not work for everyone, and won’t work for all industries in photography. But I still think the basic principles and spirit of open source (a spirit of openness, open access, freedom, sharing, democracy) is beneficial.
If Elon Musk can open source his patents for Tesla/electric cars and still thrive, why can’t you?
My crazy idea:
The more we can share, help empower one another, all of society/humanity will benefit– and so will you.
- How to Create Value as a Photography Entrepreneur
- Why Become a Photography Entrepreneur?
- Why You Must Ignore Nay-Sayers to Succeed in Entrepreneurship, Business, and Life
The Modern Photographer: Tips, Strategies, and Tactics to Thrive as a Visual Artist in the Digital Age
Marketing, Branding, Entrepreneurship Principles For Success
MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER is your new philosophical and practical primer to succeed as a modern photographer in today’s digital world.
How to Monetize Your Photography
- Photography Entrepreneurship 101: INFLUENCE
- Should I Monetize My Passion for Photography?
- 10 Practical Photography Monetization Strategies: Pricing, Google SEO, & Entrepreneurship
- How to Make Money From Street Photography
Why Become a Photography Entrepeneur?
Take control of your own photographic destiny:
THE MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER
- CREATIVE CAPITALISM
- How to Monetize Your Photography
- 5 Practical Photography Career Tips and Advice
- 10x Thinking
- How to Hustle as a Photographer
- How to Become Your Own Master Marketer
- The ‘T’ Technique of Success
- Go Ahead and Sell Out
- What is Your Unique Voice?
- Why You Must Self-Promote Yourself
- What is Your Unique Angle as a Photographer?
- Photography Content Marketing 101
- Why You Must Become Your Own Publisher
- The Art of Cross-Pollination in Photography
Photography Entrepreneurship Articles
- Why You Shouldn’t Trust Your Pictures to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Flickr
- How to Make Money From Your Photography
- Photography SEO and Blogging: How to Become Number One on Google
- Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation
- Now is the Best Time to Be a Photographer
- What Is The Value of a Picture?
- Your Photographic Labor is Not Free
PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS 101
- Chapter 1. How to Make a Photography Blog
- Chapter 2. How to Price Yourself
- Chapter 3. How to Find Your Market
- Chapter 4. Why Teach Workshops?
- Chapter 5. How to Build Trust
- Chapter 6. How to Market Yourself
- Chapter 7: Why Should Someone Attend Your Workshop?
KEYS TO SUCCESS
- Why You Must Be a “Personality” in Order to Succeed
- THRIVE OR DIE.
- Impatience is a Virtue
- Create Your Own Category
- HOW TO DREAM BIG.
- Will Not or Cannot?
- Why Not?
- How to Think BIG
- How to Stay Ahead of the Curve
- How to Invest in Yourself
- The Two Camera Rule
- MEANINGFUL DIFFERENTIATION
- Advice For College Students
- How to Thrive in Uncertain Times
- CANNIBALIZE YOURSELF.
- DO AND GROW RICH
- Does Fear of Punishment Hold You Back?
- HOW TO GET MORE FOLLOWERS
- How to Innovate
- How to Build Your Own Empire
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO HARD WORK.
- PICK YOURSELF.
- OWN YOUR PLATFORM
- 10 KEYS TO SUCCESS
Table of Contents
Learn how to make a living from your passion:
- Preface. BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PHOTOGRAPHY
- Chapter 1. How to Create Value
- Chapter 2. ZEN CAPITALISM
- Chapter 3. Scarcity
- Chapter 4. How to Brand Yourself
- Chapter 5. How to Build a True Following
- Chapter 6. The Blueprint to Success in Photography
- Chapter 7. HOW TO BE BOLD
- Chapter 8. How to Sell Out
- Chapter 9. GO AGAINST THE GRAIN
- Chapter 10. EXTREME ABUNDANCE
- Chapter 11. Photography Experience Economy
- Chapter 12. Why You Should Make Money for Your Photography
- Chapter 13. How to Become a Famous Photographer
Photography Business 101
How to Make Money with Photography
- How to Charge More Money in Your Photography
- Why You Should Not Pursue Photography as Career
- Can Photography Make You Rich?
- How I Earn $200,000+ a Year From Photography
- How to earn $10,000 a month as a photographer
- Why you must be an expensive photographer
Photography Marketing 101
- Why Have More Followers?
- Why You Should Do Photography Work For Free
- How I Became an Internet Famous Photographer
- Photography Blogging Ideas
- Why You Should Promote Your Own Name
- How to Build a Following
- How to Stand Out as a Photographer.
- HOW TO GO VIRAL AS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
- How to Master Marketing
- How to Sell Yourself
How to Hustle.
- Entrepreneurial Advice to My 18 Year Old Self
- How to Become Insanely Productive.
- 5 Lessons From Hesiod on Hustling
- It is Better to Beg For Forgiveness Than Ask For Permission
- The Free Way to Become Rich
- JUST DO IT.
- 7 Steps: How to Make a Living From Your Passion
- How to Do What You Love for a Living
- How to Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- How to Fail Big
- How to Invest in Yourself
- How to Be Bold in Photography and Life
- Mission: Cover Your Rent and Food
- 1,000 True Fans
- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
- Make More Value Not Money
- We Live in a Photo Utopia
How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
- Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers
- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
- How to Brand Yourself as a Photographer
- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
- How to become rich from photography blogging
- How to Make a Living with Blogging
- 50 Blogging Tips For Beginners
- How to Start Your Own Photography Blog
- A Photographer’s Guide to SEO, Blogging, and Social Media
How to Teach Photography
- How to Become a Photography Teacher
- How to Teach a Street Photography Class
- Why I Teach Street Photography Workshops
- Why I Deleted My Instagram
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
- Why Do You Need More Likes or Followers?
- Instagram is Going to Be the Next Facebook
- Don’t Trust “Free” Photography Social Networks
How to Save Money
Unleash your creative potential:
- April 10-11th, 2021: BOSTON / Discover Your Unique Voice in Photography Workshop [Register Intent Here]
- May 1-2nd, 2021: CHICAGO / Street Photography Composition Masterclass [Register Intent Here]
- May 22-22nd, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS by ERIC KIM [Register Intent Here]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.