Unsplash VS Photographers

Unsplash VS Photographers

How are professional photographers supposed to make a living if platforms like Unsplash offer free quality images?


October 16, 2021


Like any other viral platform that serves quality content for free all over the world, Unsplash has upset a handful of professional photographers.

I admit, even I was concerned at the beginning thinking that photography was a skill I had acquired and now that unsplash was gifting professional images "willy nilly", that value was lost.

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Photo by Melvyn Swingler on Unsplash

Are professional photographers obsolete?

It's a simple answer: no.

I'm not siding with photographers or company owners that need photographs for their content. But unsplash and professional photographers serve very... very... different services.

For you, the reader wondering what Unsplash is, it's a platform where you can download and use quality royalty-free images.

Here's a link to my page if you can't wait to finish reading -> https://unsplash.com/@melvyn_photo

Looking at both sides

Obviously, this platform is the product of the frustration between clients thinking photographers charging too much and photographers struggling to be appreciated for their service.

I mean we all want to save money and we all have decent cameras on our phones, so why spend 700 euros on a random person to do a job I could do?

That's beside the problem (: says imaginary photographer) Why the hell are fellow photographers putting their work online for free?!? I mean It's disrespectful to the community!

How can the creative industry make a living if others sell their services for less than the price of a cup of coffee?!?


Well, that would not be understanding the purpose of unsplash well.

I'm not a professional photographer, I studied it, then went for advertising and design. However, I take a lot of pictures and I hoard them on a hard drive.

The pictures I took aren't bad, but no one will ever get to see them if they're hidden in some "1234tyhjikbkvrct54656u" named subfolder. Curating my photos and putting them on unsplash is a way for me to show my skills and avoid wasting some decent shots.


First of all, let's address the title of "photographer". If the only photography you do is of your lunch, pet or ski trip and the purpose of it is solely for posting them on Instagram. Don't get upset but you are not a photographer, you're just a lucky person with a smartphone.

And why do I say that? Simple, if photography is important enough to be a 3+ year degree at university, then photographers get to keep their title. It's virtually impossible that you know more about photography than the three or more years and investment or just learning they (actual photographers) put into it.


(Or potential clients) stop seeing photographers as useless idiots, ask questions, be curious. GET INVOLVED in their photographic process, they know what they are doing.

Is 700+ a day for photography expensive? Yes.

Is it worth it?

Is showing the best image of your product(s) or service(s) to your clients important to you?

Would you risk hiring your cousin's nephew for your wedding pictures?

Photographers know how to capture the true value of things.

Then why are you and other photographers on unsplash?

Because unsplash is a showcase for photographers but the images have no real purpose.

The images on there can convey a feeling or depict a location. But you wouldn't go on unsplash instead of hiring a photographer for your wedding? Would you?

Getting unsplash images for your company is not authentic, there is no sense of ownership, it could look fake.

700+ or more is still a lot though...

You're paying for the gear: cameras, sd cards, editing software, computer, lighting, batteries, lenses make up for are a REALLY expensive investment on the photographers' side.

When you hire a photographer, you help pay back for that equipment, his/her/.. time, education and you invest in their knowledge and advice.

One last note

Creatives are most often not very good at selling marketing or being commercial, asking them if some things are possible (specific location, workshops, etc) will go a long way.

If you have a need for a lot of images, often (social media or online business) ask if a bulk fee or monthly contact is possible.


Care about your image, use unsplash for blogs or your phone/computer background and find a photographer that suits your style.

You can contact photographers on their profile section on unsplash. Photographers: Flickr is only for photographers go on Unsplash and let people see your talent!

PS: If you're a photographer, contact me. I'd be glad to add you to my list of professionals, I might need your services for a project one day!

Melvyn Swingler

CEO • Lead Designer