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Lovely Photo Derivatives

I try not to begrudge what others do, but as much as I use (and talk about) mining flickr for creative commons licensed images, I dont know what to make of those who uses a photo sharing site to post photos All Rights Reserved?

Okay, I do begrudge.

But I dont spent much time there- what is more interesting, uplifting, is the magic that happens when you give something away, when you don’t attach statements of what you cannot do with media you’ve created, but attach statements of what you can do. I have pretty much given away every photo, crappy software, document I have ever created.

I gave away a picture of my old car in death valley and got a free music CD. I gave away copies of my old HTML Tutorial, a teacher translated it into Icelandic, and a few years later, I got invited to visit Iceland to do web workshops.

Its not richness of things showered on me that I value, its richness of people I meet, connections made. The more you give, the more you get. Just don’t stand there with your palms out waiting for it.

Recently I had lunch with Jim, a long time friend. He and his wife retired 2 years ago, and they each took up art. I recall Jim asking for photos they could practice from, so I sent my flickr tags for flowers and dogs, etc. I have a nice pencil drawing of good old Mickey (my yellow labrador icon), but Jim showed me some of the lovely pastels his wife has done– see the photo and the painting version below.

photo: (unknown flower)
Spring Flowers From Strawberry


photo: (detail of colorful bearded iris)
Flowers from Strawberry


photo: (looking up from ground at blooming flowers of ceres cacti, note how Susan has reversed the image, a nice composition!)
Ceres Cacti Triplicate


There’s much more to say about working the art of those who come before, and it is certainly not anything so new or novel. Thanks Jim and Susan! I am honored you are using my photos.

Give stuff away and see what happens! And make it simple, go for a simple Attribution license (ducking from the barbs throwhn by BY-NC advocates!)

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. There is a great book, “The Bucks Start Here” by Professor Claude Olney. He passed a way a while back, but during a guest appearance I was lucky to be at, he talked about “giving” and the more you do it the more it comes back. He was suppose to be a return speaker the following year but had a heart attack and died. He was very instrumental in the early stages of Entrepreneurship at ASU. (ISBN 0-688-08841-4)

  2. Great story about the photos…I really miss that old Maverick. I’m glad to see that it’s immortalized on the web and in music. Also, the pastels of your photos are beautiful. What a great idea–maybe I’ll pick up the chalk again myself!!

  3. There’s enough shared content on Flickr that I don’t worry too much about the stuff people don’t want to share. I figure they’re using the site for exposure (as it were).

    A friend gave me a link to CC Search, which lets you search half a dozen different sites, including Flickr, for CC content. I made a button for that on my toolbar and hardly ever go to the main Flickr site any more — because I’m looking for images that can enhance my blog posts or whatever.

    In usage, my approach is twofold: I include an attribution line, linked to the photographer’s profile page, and I make the image itself into a link to the individual photo on Flckr: two paths for a viewer to find the person who created the image.

  4. Maybe the reason people have “all rights reserved” on their flickr photos is because that’s the default and they don’t know how to change it?

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