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I recently received a promotional email from Unsplash. Like the rest of The Phoblographer team, I don’t support anything the company does. Its model is built on the foundations of a photographer’s desperation to be seen. The head honchos make money from it and give nothing back to the folks who likely made them a fair few bucks over the years. So, when this email came through, I had to laugh at the irony– I’m sure you will too.
Want to get your work featured? Here’s how to do it!
Unsplash Suggests Cameras to Photographers!
“Hundreds of different devices are used to capture Unsplash images every day,” wrote a member of the Unsplash email marketing team. Continuing, they encourage recipients to check out the 10 best cameras used by influential members of the community (aka those who get the most likes for their work, which they can’t spend in the real world). Intrigued, I clicked the link to see what glorious inside information Unsplash was going to share.
I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Popular cameras like the Leica M10, the Sony Alpha A7 III, and the Nikon D7500 were all there. There were some nice photographs too: dollar-earning photographs, you might say, but the kind you hand over for free.
After soaking up Unplash’s selfless gear advice, it got me thinking; there was a level of irony to all this.
Unsplash Knows Gear Isn’t Cheap
Aside from time, the most significant investment a photographer will make is a financial. one The three cameras above have a combined cost of around $12,000. That’s before you have had the joy of attaching a lens to them. So out of all the wonderful cameras around, here is Unsplash essentially recommending some of the most expensive. Granted, Leica makes up most of that figure, but that doesn’t mean Nikon and Sony’s offerings should be considered cheap.
So, where’s the irony? Well, think about this. A site that capitalizes on the generosity and desperation of photographers handing over their work for free is suggesting cameras to them that cost thousands of dollars.
Maybe I’m ungrateful? I mean, it does take time to research new gear. Perhaps I should show gratitude towards Unsplash? If I did use the platform, I would, however, have to ask vendors if they accept likes and exposure when I pay for my new camera!
“For me, the saddest part is when I browsed the photographers connected to the cameras in the article. One photographer had a link to PayPal, asking people to support him. He’s handed over 900 images to Unsplash, and the company has given him nothing in return.”
Beyond Irony, It’s Disgusting
Of course, I jest. The reality is that things like this a another slap in the face of the photographer. I feel Unsplash is now officially trolling the photography community at this point, trying to find ways they can poke fun at it.
For me, the saddest part is when I browsed the photographers connected to the cameras in the article. One photographer had a link to PayPal, asking people to support him. He’s handed over 900 images to Unsplash, and the company has given him nothing in return.
Some readers may argue if the consumer downloads an image, it’s their responsibility to support the photographer, not Unsplash. I partly agree with this. If you’re downloading free stock images from a site, if and when you can, you should pay the photographer. Even if it’s to buy a cup of coffee, it’s something.
But where I disagree is that it’s the sole responsibility of the consumer to support the photographer, especially when Unsplash and its top dogs are making good money from this system. Even more so when they’re laughing in the faces of the community with round-up articles like the one mentioned above. Essentially, they’re saying, “spend thousands of dollars on gear so you can make photos and hand them to us for free so that we can get richer.” Beyond being ironic, it’s disgusting.
If you think the Unsplash model is the best around, you need to look harder. Sites like ClickaSnap pay photographers just for getting views. It won’t make you rich, but at least the company is showing some respect to an industry they’re profiting from–unlike Unsplash.
In ending this piece: Unsplash, keep your camera suggestions to yourself. Photographers often struggle to make ends meet while keeping on top of the latest gear that helps them do their work. They don’t need you telling them what cameras to buy when you don’t have the common decency to pay them for propping up your platform.