Gift economy

You know it, we can find today some amazing and totally free things on the Internet: free software, the most famous being the Linux operating system, but also the Open Office suite, the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird mail application, and to stay close to the photography domain, the image manipulation software The Gimp. And I could go on with this list during hours. You will also find digitized books released into public domain, extensions or improvements of commercial video games, an encyclopaedia everybody can enhance (the famous Wikipedia). Some blogs are not far from specialized newspapers and "Wiki Newspapers", made from netizens contributions may not be so far away. Even more important: you will find on the web thousands of tutorials explaining how to do yourself a lot of things and forums where you can ask questions and get some help when you encounter difficulties.

Where all this does come from? Everything that can be digitized: texts, images, sounds, videos, software, data, can be spread all over the world, almost for free, thanks to the Internet. From this easiness, an economy existing in other domains, as in science, or in other times and places, as in some tribes of the south Pacific, has been reinvented. This economy is based on the fact that contributors earn respect not because they accumulate goods (i.e. are rich) but because they give a lot. Even if this model can't be put into general use, it brings a welcome freshness in our profit-obsessed world.

And what about photography?

It is, of course, fair for persons making a living (or at least trying to make a living) from their pictures to get paid for these pictures. But why amateur photographers, who get their money from another job, wouldn't give their pictures to the community? Either by digitizing film or using a digital camera, today pictures are only computer files you can store duplicate and send through the Internet almost for free. With these files, everybody can order prints, create computer wallpapers, use them to illustrate some text on a web site or even retouch them to improve them.

The original creator of this picture won't lose anything, this is the magic of digital pictures: you can give without losing anything. You will not earn money but the respect of the persons using your work. This way, you will have a chance to contribute to Internet abundance, saying "thank you" to all those persons who gave their time and efforts to create free software or to give some advice on forums. If you are a photographer and if the idea of giving away your images makes you sick, think that when you take a picture, part of the image quality comes from your own skills but the other part of comes from the beauty of what is on the picture. And who or what is on the picture didn't ask for money (well, most of the time). Would you want to sell what belongs only partially to you?

But let's be practical: this means you can use the pictures in this web site as you want (if you don't make money with them, it would be rather funny if you made money with something I give away!), you can change them and/or share them according to the terms of a Creative Commons license.

You can download my pictures in their original size from my Flickr account. Flickr is, by the way, an excellent site you can use to share your own pictures or to access an incredible photo database. Photos you can also use (at least some of them) according to the terms of a Creative Commons license.