Technology, The Industry & the Concept of Free

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APE posted an article on the future of photography. There’s been a bit of controversy over the article as Leslie Burns talks about in her post. The basic idea is passing your work, or making it available to be passed around to create “fans”. Creating a bigger fan base increases your market.

It got me thinking of how digital technology is moving us into to a viral content world. Think about how much we love to share things with our friends. Random pieces of content that we think is so great, we share it with everyone we know. Thus the concept of “Viral Content”. Advertising age reported that GE, the country’s third largest advertiser, is moving to shift half of it’s $3 billion budget into digital and one-to-one marketing within the next 3 years. That said, GE as well as many other brands will be spending a lot of money on creating viral content.

So, why don’t we as photographers use our own work as viral content. People pay us to create our own viral content (well, if it lines up with our creative vision), or we can go create it ourselves. If people are posting it on their walls, desktops, or passing it to friends, is that any different than me sending a promo poster to potential clients to hang on their wall? Is it different from sending a print to a potential client? They can still scan it if they really like it.

My point is, making our work available to be passed along in a personal use level that promotes the artist is a great idea. Maybe someone blogs it, sends it to their friends, or makes it their desktop. You’re creating fans. Eventually, it might make it into the right hands. If you have your images registered with the copyright office, that gives you even more power if someone chooses to use your image in a commercial venue and violate copyright. The web world is getting smaller and smaller so finding images that are used without your permission is becoming easier and easier. There are even image tracking companies that will track all images used on the web. Besides, if it’s passed around low resolution images, no one is going to use it in print anyways… or at least we hope.

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