Why I share my photos freely

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I have been doing photography of some sort on and off since I was about 14 years old, which is a while ago now. At one time, I was a biologist with technology as a hobby, but I flipped them around: now I am a technologist with biology as a hobby. For many years I was a researcher in marine biology, focusing on the ecology of coastal ecosystems, as well as on the systematics and taxonomy of coralline algae. The latter were of interest because of their abundance in coastal ecosystems, and the fact that they were very poorly known.

Two divers passing at Halahi Reef, Red Sea, Egypt #SCUBA

Over the years, in part through my work on Free and Open Source, I came to the realisation that biologists are not very good at sharing, especially photographs of the algae, plants and animals that they study. I decided that I could make use of my photos, some old dating back to my days in Newfoundland, and some that I have yet to take. Using these photos, my goal is to create a freely available library of images that can be used in any way, whether educationally or commercially,  as they are or in derivative works. I do this using Flickr, and the Creative Commons: Attribution (CC:BY) license.

I am not sure if my strategy is sufficient, so I welcome any suggestions for ways to supplement the strategy. The elements of the strategy are as follows:

  • Use a site that embeds a CC:BY license into the image metadata, and that allows for searching by license type. I chose flickr for this reason.
  • Use a site that also has active communities, statistics, and allows for use with link back so I can see a bit of what is happening out there with my shared images. flickr also meets this criterion.
  • Develop an interest in particular groups of organisms, and photograph them with energy and passion. I started with birds, but will move on to other groups of organisms soon, and ‘diversify the portfolio’.
  • Go back over old photos, including old photos taken on slide film, and where they are suitable, add them to the flickr collections.
  • To get the photos as widely used as possible I add the bird photos to the AVIBase group on flickr, and all other photos to the Encyclopedia of Life Images group and the Wikimedia Commons – Animals, Plants group. Are there other groups that automate incorporation into other collections?
  • Study and improve techniques, and improve the quality of the photos that I post.
Nobody should be unable to find and use a photo of any living species due to copyright and paywalls. Anyone should be able to get creative with images of living species, and create derivative works in any form, whether painting, sculpture, video or mashup images. Freedom is the best source of inspiration and innovation.

See my photos on flickr: