I think I made a decision about how to publish my photographs. Stop laughing! This is a big thing and required careful thought not because I’m selling images now but because I might want to in the future. And therein lies the dilemma. What you do today will control what you can do tomorrow.
Right now, I shoot for the fun of it. No deadlines, no editors, no clients, no nothing. I want to be able to share my photos with my family and friends and the Internet is the logical way to do that. To that end, I have an account at flickr.com and it works just fine. I subscribe to a few groups contribute what I know and learn from others.
I also have an account at PhotoShelter.com. My best/favorite images will be there in a Personal Archive account. It solves my need for an off-site backup for my best stuff and I can use their tools to sell my images down the road. The only catch is how I copyright my images and what rights I reserve now. After all, if there are no limits on usage now how can you require people to obtain a license for its use later? After all if the horse is out of the barn, it’s a bit late to close the barn door.
My plan is to use the Creative Commons “+” scheme. In short, I will put my stuff out on the Internet using the CC Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 license: if it’s for your personal use that’s okay as long as you give others the same rights to anything you make that includes or derives my work. If you want to use my work in a commercial application, then you would need to a seperate license it. The “+” part really comes down to some additional language in the rights section of your declaration. More details are available in CC wiki here.
Digital Photo Pro has a good article entitled “Creative Commons” in the May/June 2008 issue on the CC+ approach. (As an aside, I think DPP is just about the last good US-based photography magazine. I find their articles to be informative and useful. The rest of the US magazines are just catalogs. You hear me, Popular Photography and Imaging? Shutterbug is even worse – not even good fodder for a read at Barnes and Noble! As a rule, the UK magazines are generally quite good. That’s just my opinion and your milage may vary.)
The other thing I think I will do is release small / medium sized images on flickr and make the full size JPEGs and RAW files available through my PhotoShelter account. Jury is still out on that one.
I know this isn’t rocket science; I’ve been using the CC licenses for three years now so I feel comfortable with it. For me, this marks a deliberate step on my part and doesn’t limit me in the future. Caveat emptor though: once you put something out under a CC license you can’t get it back.