[Image: Montage of three people singing and playing instruments with the funcrunchphoto.com logo superimposed.]
Back in the year 2000 I acquired my first digital camera. I began taking photos of anything and everything. By 2008, I had gotten enough praise for my photos that I decided to launch an official photography business, Funcrunch Photo, the following year.
Unfortunately, I was a terrible salesperson. And as any artist will tell you, making a living from art is 90% sales and marketing. While as an event photography specialist I considered myself more of a photojournalist than an artist, trying to convince people to pay for my work when more and more people were content with amateur snapshots was becoming increasingly difficult.
I also felt I had no control over my work once it was posted online; Facebook and many other social networks stripped metadata, some people cut out or cloned out my watermarks, and some gave me pushback even when I simply asked for attribution for my work. While in the USA, a photographer owns the copyright to their work the moment the shutter is pressed, trying to explain that just made me look greedy in an age where many expect anything digital to be freely available to all, without restriction.
So in August 2012 I stopped taking on new gigs, choosing to focus on volunteer work in food justice instead, as my partner Ziggy was earning enough to cover our living expenses. I continued to license my existing work and do occasional shoots, hoping to bring in enough income to at least cover my business expenses, but I became more disillusioned with the state of the photography industry. My output dropped precipitously; my Lightroom catalog for the year 2011 contains over 25000 images, while for the year 2013 there are fewer than 4000.
Still, I could not bring myself to shut Funcrunch Photo down completely, and I was beginning to miss shooting events. I still wasn’t accepting hired gigs, but I began taking photos at animal liberation actions and other events, and posting them online in full resolution, without watermarks. I also started contributing more high-resolution photos to Wikimedia, such as the ones I took at the Trans March, as more free photos are needed in this area. Especially as my food justice volunteering wasn’t working out (more on that in a future entry), I felt that I should use my photography talents, in addition to my writing talents, to advance social justice causes if I could.
Meanwhile I was noticing that more and more artists were using crowdfunding to support their projects. I was supporting several such people on Patreon, and decided that might be a way to cover my photography expenses. I hate advertising, and liked the idea of having users support my overall work directly, in writing as well as photography.
While my photography work going forward will be released under a Creative Commons license for free noncommercial use (with attribution), I’m treating my older galleries a bit differently. I’ve made all low-res images free for download, cut the price of high-res image licenses in half, and eliminated print options on all but my art prints.
I hope this new funding model will help me fit in better with the evolving expectations of the digital age.