When I was a kid and I had a new toy that I liked, I wanted to show it. Today, if I had a car, and it was new, I would want to show it and even brag about it. And those are things I didn’t even built myself. So just imagine if I had something made out of a perfect combination of my imagination and my hands ?

You couldn’t make me shut up.

That is what photographers do almost everyday. They take pictures and want to share them with others. And they do. They post them on their website and try to sell them. Because the more they get for them, the more it means other people like them. And if published more see it.

So what’s the boohoo about Pinterest ? It’s a photographers dream. You can post images and actually see how many people like it. It’s not like a magazine since there is no editorial and no advertising. Just pure simple sharing for the sake of sharing.

Furthermore, it does nothing more than what Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr have been doing for years now. No one sued them or question their copyright ethics. In fact, a lot of image professionals use them actively. Some actually call themselves gurus and give lessons to other photographers on how to master them. So what’s the fuss about Pinterest?

Photographs even get posted with URL so that interested users can explore some more.

We had written here before that the photo industry has to grow up and stop being ignorant and resistant to the changes happening online. They have to embrace it and adapt. It is offering huge opportunities that no photographer ever had before. There is nothing wrong with wanting to share photographs, especially since they come with url.

Recent numbers show that Pinterest leads to more referral than Twitter and in some cases, Facebook. Yet, a lot of of photo industry pundits will tell you to consider suing Pinterest, or they users, for copyright infringement. Yet , the same people will urge you to tweet or Facebook like insatiable addicts.

Already some photographers are showing elevated levels of interest just by creating Pinterest boards mixing their images with others that they like, exposing a more clear vision of their taste. If you don’t think that art directors, art buyers and photo editors, all visual people, are not going to use Pinterest, you are greatly mistaken. It is a great discovery engine and a great tool to feel the visual gestalt. In fact, if its success keeps growing, we wouldn’t be surprise to see Google acquiring it or making a clone, like they did with Facebook.

Use it or don’t use it but whatever you do, don’t fight it. It will be a waste of time, energy and resources. Like all other social media past and future, learn to live with it and adapt accordingly. Those who do will have no trouble achieving success.

 Update: here is everything ( almost) that you ever wanted to know about Pinterest and more : Techcrunch 

Author: pmelcher


  1. Sure it links to the photograph. Here’s the linked domain for one of mine that has been on Pinterest for 42 weeks and with 4 repins:


    Isn’t that great? If they go to Yahoo! they see a full-size copy of my image, and finally there embedded underneath is my page. How many people even look at that? Even if they click on a link on my page it stays framed on Yahoo!

    How much more of this can we take? It’s just people building up valuable web properties to sell or put advertising on, on the back of theft.

    Anyone who has been in the web business for a few years knows this is a scam: the equivalent of burying a reciprocal link somewhere pages deep where few people will click it. In other words put up lots of barriers to prevent them ever getting to that point.

    Even a proper link is not and never has been payment for use of an image because the value from a link is much less than a reproduction fee (trust me on that, I’ve had links on the BBC website next to images used and the benefit from traffic doesn’t begin to amount to the equivalent of a basic fee).

    I suppose the answer is to cut up images. Google still indexes them and people still click them from there, but they only get to see the full image on your site and no one can “pin” the whole thing.

  2. Author

    In this day and age, if you haven’t figured out how to monetize photo sharing then you should not be in the photography business.
    As I repeatedly said, and wrote on this blog, this is only the beginning: Adapt or die.

  3. I must have read hundreds of your articles and I don’t believe I’ve ever really seen a viable way to monetize photo sharing.

    Of course there’s always that one in a million person who has achieved the seemingly impossible. Or someone who’s working 24/7, turning out photos conveyor-belt style, to earn an ever-dimnishing wage as ever more free images appear. That’s not for me.

    In fact there’s probably no more being paid out to license photos than there was 20 years ago. But I’d guess a much greater number are being licensed at a fraction of the rate.

    Then the explosion in “use” of photography is covered by the theft, Creative Commons and freebie end of things. Including professionals allowing their work to be used unpaid.

    Allowing rampant free use of your photos in the hope that once in a blue moon someone will decide to pay to use one of the images, or that 100 people will pay you $1, isn’t a viable business model. You’re just adding to the problem: putting out a supply of professional photography for free use and throwing away uniqueness and value in the case of older archive pics.

    There are many ways to benefit from photography other than directly licensing a photo to someone else, particularly if you are multi-skilled as I always have been. So there’s no reason why I should “not be in the photography business.”

    I’m no luddite. I was building websites back in 1996 and I’m no fool when it comes to what is really behind “sharing” and taking content. Some of it is about taking away benefit and competitive advantage and building up businesses to sell.

    My websites and publications have great, exclusive photographic content (shot by me). People steal shots of places that were photographed 20 years ago on 35mm and despite there being a zillion (mainly so, so) Creative Commons images out there of the same place. Makes you think doesn’t it?

    Many competing websites have the same, tired images. Sometimes there’s almost the feeling that people are desperate for a decent photo, but they just won’t pay. Maybe some day they’ll realise. Or maybe they won’t.

    That’s fine. What they won’t get away with is taking my work for free and reducing the advantage that I get from using it.

    In reality, an awful lot of photo theft is by commercial businesses.

    The UK government is considering the copyright laws right now. Probably it will be made easier to take thieves to court and get payment. Great news. While rules on non-profit use will be relaxed somewhat. Also good.

    Is use of an image on Facebook alongside ads “non-profit?” I don’t think so. And the moment Pinterest sells the business, there’s a profit isn’t there? Which anyone who has uploaded photographs has contributed to.

  4. Author

    Sorry for the late reply. My non blogging activities are taking most of my time.

    The market is changing, has changed. You see it happening in front of you. It is no longer a small group of publishers controlling the image buying market but millions upon millions of users. We are shifting from the “one to many” to “the many to many” publishing scheme.
    The older photography licensing model are no longer adapted to the new usage. Thus the huge amount of stolen images. Once you understand that those images are stolen because your a not adapting your offering to the demand, you are almost there.

    Finally, I know many ways to generate revenue from image sharing, none of which I will post, for free, on my blog

  5. I see many of the stolen images, but it didn’t have any market value, everyone needs originality.

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