Unsplash 2020 Awards Continue to Make a Mockery of Photography

The Unsplash 2020 Awards add Polaroid and Ikea to the list of companies who do not value the work of photographers.

If you’re unfamiliar with Unsplash, don’t worry. You’re going to get a crash course in why this virus of a company is hated by photographers worldwide. You see, Unsplash is a community-driven stock photography website that preys on photographers who don’t know better. Unsplash disguises competitions as a way to get creators to upload images and give up all ownership rights. Companies like Nike, Ikea, Polaroid, Peak Design Squarespace, and others use those images royalty-free in their ad campaigns. We’ve reported about Unsplash in the past, and we’ll continue to lead the charge against them. If you couldn’t tell, we’re totally against the Unsplash 2020 Awards. Let’s discuss why Unsplash and the companies supporting them are nothing but cancer to photography and photographers.

Stock photography used to be a huge business. Until smartphone cameras came along, a photographer could make an honest living with stock photography. However, stock photography sites have become flooded with images because everyone has a camera with them now. Excellent levels of income crashed. Then, Unsplash came along and killed the game altogether. The biggest problem is in how they run their so-called business. Unsplash makes a mockery of photography, and they piss all over photographers.

How Does Unsplash Work?


Unsplash works by getting photographers who are still a little wet behind the ears to upload and share their images for free. These images are then put into a community pool and photographers are told that their work will be seen by millions of people. Heck, if your work is good enough, it may even catch the eye of a multi-billion dollar company exec! WOW! That sounds amazing! You’re right, it does sound good, but did your momma never tell you if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?

Once your work is uploaded, you instantly give up all rights to your work. Unsplash can then hawk your images around to these massive companies. Let’s say Nike likes what they see: they can then use your picture however they want. Does this still sound good? It does? Well, think again! Nike can take your image, use it in an ad campaign, make millions from it, and never have to pay you. They don’t even have to credit you for the image! It’s a disgusting practice that needs to end. Unsplash, along with RawShotz, are ripping photography apart.

What Can Be Done About This Travesty?


Unfortunately, not a whole lot. The problem stems from people not taking the time to read user agreements. Many photographers who are starting out see the chance at exposure and jump headfirst into the trap. Even experienced photographers have been caught in the Unsplash web. We have been leading the charge against Unsplash and the companies that support them, and we’ll continue to do so.

We aren’t afraid to call out Peak Design, Nike, SquareSpace, Brevite, Medium, Pinterest, Weebly, Moment, WordPress, and others. Now, we’ll call out Ikea and Polaroid as well. Many of these companies who claim to be for photographers are sticking in the knife and are twisting it. They don’t care about you; they just want your work for free. Tell us how that is caring for photographers. We’d love to know why they think this is such a good idea.

Just Say No to Unsplash

We urge you not to fall into the Unsplash trap. You work hard for your images. Make your photos work for you. You can still make good money with your pictures. Start your own website and sell your work there. You can sell your photos locally. You can even upload your pictures to legitimate stock photography websites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock Photography. Whatever you decide to do, just don’t give away your images so that multi-million dollar companies can get them and profit for free. Make them pay for your work. Join us in the fight against Unsplash, and help make photography profitable for us, the creators, again. Just say no to Unsplash.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.