These Companies Are Supporting the Biggest Photography Rights Grab We’ve Seen in a While


I never honestly took Unsplash seriously, but this is horrifying to me.

You’ve probably read the Photoshelter Blog post about Unsplash and why their competitor Squarespace is screwing photographers. I’ve kept my thoughts to myself for a while until a buddy showed me the scope of the Unsplash awards. It draws you in with nice designs, sleek marketing, and the variety of awards being judged by big wigs at various companies. I’ve seen this before with EyeEm–a company I stood behind for a long time until I felt betrayed by their portrayal of Photo Editors as nothing but an algorithm. To that end, I see Unsplash as doing nothing else but the absolute worst rights grab I’ve ever seen.

The companies in our lead image for this blog post are listed via a screenshot from the Unsplash awards. It’s shocking to me:

  • Peak Design: a company that literally built itself off of the backs of photographers via Kickstarter?
  • Flipboard: A company that we use to bring in a whole lot of traffic and that heavily promotes its own love of photography internally
  • Medium: A blogging platform that is huge on the rights of bloggers
  • Moment: A company that makes lenses for phones so that photographers have more options
  • Squarespace: A company that caters to photographers but now is all about their images being given away for free
  • Light: You know, they make that camera that folks don’t really care about
  • Enlight: A photo editing app on the mobile platforms
  • Brevite: A camera bag maker supports giving away free photos?

And then there are others? Personally, I’m very disappointed.

“What’s so bad,” you’re asking? Unsplash encourages photographers to upload images to their website and tells folks who download that you can use the images for commercial reasons, completely free of charge without any need to credit the photographer. So, essentially your image can appear in a major marketing campaign and no one would know that it is your image, and you wouldn’t at all get paid or compensated for it.

The kicker: the winner of each segment gets entered into a raffle to then get a $600 plane ticket. That’s it! Really?!

What are your thoughts on this? Are you okay with it?

Personally, I think that this is a bigger call to photographers to stop capturing scenes and start creating them instead. Use the camera as your paint brush.



Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.