Opinion: Unsplash’s Latest News Is a Mockery to Photographers

Over 1,000,000 images have been shared on Unsplash now; that makes our heads and hearts hurt.

We have spoken in some depth about Unsplash and how they are unraveling the threads of photography as we know it. It seems as though the threads are being pulled apart faster and faster. The company just announced that over a million images have been shared with them by photographers and creators who may not understand exactly what they are doing to themselves or the industry as a whole. Heavy sigh

Just in case you aren’t up to speed in regard to Unsplash, here is a quick reminder of why we hold this service in such disdain. Unsplash is a service that promotes itself by holding frequent photography competitions. It promises those who share their images that they will get their work seen by major corporations and players in the photography field. This, in itself, is true; they do indeed get their images put in front of big wigs. But what Unsplash doesn’t like to let on is that they take full ownership of every image you share with them. They snag the rights to that image, leaving you with nothing but a memory of the work you created.

To date, over one million images have been shared with Unsplash. That’s one million image rights given up, one million chances for photographers around the globe to sell their images for cold hard cash gone, and one million images that multi-billion dollar organizations have been able to choose from, commercial free, and make money from in their advertising campaigns. Over 50,000 images per month are being uploaded to the service now, and that is a crying shame. Copyright grabs like this are absolutely killing the industry, but Unsplash and those who support them want you to think otherwise.


Companies like Peak Design, SquareSpace, Pinterest, Polarr, Medium, Dropbox, Brevite, Moment, and many others support this abomination. Companies who you would think would support photographers, companies who you would think hold our work in high regard, all just happily taking, using, and making money off the backs of hardworking photographers and creators like it’s not a problem. The only way we are going to stop this is through education and spreading the word.

We all need to do our part to let other photographers know that there are much better ways to share work (Behance is just one example), and that there are legitimate ways for you to make money from your images. Please, stop giving away your work in the hope of fame that will not come. Love your work, cherish it, put it to work for you, make money that is rightfully yours from it, and don’t support Unsplash or any of the image thieves listed above.