Thursday, January 14, 2010

To share and to share freely…

I’ve been admiring photographer/artist Trey Ratcliff’s work recently – see previous post.  This morning, driving to work, I had an opportunity to hear an interview with him and it was truly inspiring on many levels.  If you’re interested in hearing the interview, click here.

What most struck me, however, was Trey’s comments regarding the distribution of the content he creates.  He freely posts images on Flickr and his own site,  On his site, if you hover your mouse over each image, you are offered the option of sharing the photo, which can include sending a link via Twitter, Facebook, IM, Yahoo and email.  And here’s the amazing part: if you right click each image, you can save a copy onto your desktop.  It’s enough to make most (traditional) photographers shudder.

First, here are some examples of his work:

4261537620_5deba3570f_b 4250355834_d5b1541ba3_b 4258823236_e2a17e164b_bIn the interview, Trey was asked why he so freely shared his work with the world.  His response was that we live in a new world where 95% of the general population will never be inclined to pay for a photograph and will only want to access it when free.  4.9% will be willing to pay for it and 0.1% percent will blatantly steal it.  That 0.1% is the “cost of doing business”, per Trey, and simply “something you just learn to get over.”

By distributing his content freely, he has been able to become a household name (in those particular circles) and build a tremendous amount of “Google trust”.  When people go looking for this kind of art, Trey’s name pops up.  Given that kind of name recognition and internet traffic, Trey has been able to successfully promote a popular book title and other paid for content (books, tutorials, workshops, etc.).  Had he been protective of his content, trying to be adequately paid for all of his work from the start, he maintains that he’d never have found the success he now enjoys.  This success includes numerous awards and publications. 

If you saw the recent “Julie and Julia” film, you witnessed an example of how an aspiring author rose out of obscurity by consistently placing content out onto the internet for free.  If you didn’t see the film, here’s the synopsis: Nice job by Amy Adams, stunning job by Meryl Streep (you swear you are looking at Julia Child), Julie Powell impulsively starts a blog about cooking (click here to see the real deal), we watch Julia Child hit it big, Julie experiences marital problems due to obsessive-cooking-wife-and-unsupportive-husband syndrome, marital bliss follows, as does the book deal, movie deal, and happy-ever-after… the end.

Many authors and artists clamor over protecting their intellectual and creative property and copyright lawyers are busier than ever, but for Trey and Julie, putting everything out there for all to see and take proved to be their tickets to success.  (Oh yeah, they have real talent too.)

Which is all just a long winded response to a comment posted here several days ago from Anonymous who wondered how I could feel so comfortable posting as I do at

More to say soon on this entire concept of blogging.  Jury is still out, but I’m finding myself increasingly surprised by the response. 

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