A 100% free use photo-sharing site has is now the second-fastest growing photography website ever made (the first is Instagram). Unsplash, by creative marketing agency, Crew Labs, is a website that only publishes pictures licensed under Creative Commons Zero, meaning users are free to “copy, modify, distribute and use the photos,” for free, without the permission of the owner, according to the Unsplash licensing statement.
Unsplash started as a Tumblr page with a pretty straightforward concept: the site would curate a selection of 10 images every 10 days and post them on the grounds that each photograph they published was licensed under creative commons zero. Admittedly, it was a sort of ploy to keep Crew Labs afloat—“A marketing budget? Please. We were just trying to keep the lights on,” writes Unsplash CEO Mikael Cho in a blog post—but it's a good one.
After two years of up and running by itself, Unsplash had stirred up so much activity that Crew Labs had to assemble a full time team to run it. According to Crew Labs/Unsplash co-founder, Luke Chesser, the website brings in more than 700 million photo views and 7.5 million downloads every month.
The page operates on the assumption that a lot of independent artists and musicians rely on, which is that if you give the public your creative work for free, it will gain more exposure. Making your artwork easily accessible and allowing third party users to repurpose it into their own projects, gives your art more reach, spreading through the masses faster.
“After appearing on Unsplash, photos will appear in all sorts of random places — on billboards, Apple Stores, Buzzfeed articles, websites, apps, Twitter accounts — left, right, and center,” Chesser tells The Creators Project.
Everyone who posts to Unsplash decides on their own whether or not they want to post their photo into the public domain so that it can be remixed and used by the community. If they post, they obviously see more value in Unsplash than in keeping that photo on their hard drive or on another site like Flickr. Chesser says, “We don't go around asking photographers to post their work to Unsplash. We don't have a page saying 'post to Unsplash and you'll get x views,' or 'post to Unsplash and you'll get y freelance clients.'"
Chesser explains, “I think no one can deny that there are big shifts around the digital culture and photography. Creative Commons-licensed works in general have definitely become more mainstream as the awareness has grown—possibly out of response to the convoluted copyright and trademark laws that don't really seem to fit well with the internet era.” See—and use—more images from Unsplash below:
Check out the Unsplash website.