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Jonathan Worth’s copy-friendly photography business experiment


Jonathan Worth is a talented commercial photographer (he shot me for a feature in Popular Science a few years back) who was recently asked for his shots by the National Portrait Gallery in London, and asked if he could come and take my pic for it, offering to give me the right to use the resulting print for publicity, book jackets and so on.

The National Portrait Gallery's crazy copyright stance sparked an interesting conversation about copyright with Jonathan (who also shot some killer photos!) and in the end, he agreed to license the photos he took of me for the exhibition under a very liberal Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, one of the most liberal licenses, allowing for both commercial uses and remixes.


One of Jonathan's pictures showed me in my office, and I went a little Flickr-crazy marking up the photo with notes explaining what everything was. I tweeted the photo, and lots of people came by to see it -- several thousand, some of whom ended up offering Jonathan paying work. It was a win all around.

This got us to talking about how producers of images and other works that are well-known digitally can use that familiarity to sell physical objects (I give away my books as ebooks to sell the print books), and Jonathan decided to try an experiment, producing 111 prints of the iconic image (without the Flickr notes!). I kicked in the 111-page initial manuscript printing of my forthcoming (April 2010) young adult novel For the Win, which I had just finished a week before. I had printed ten copies of the manuscript to pass around, and I had one copy left, and so I signed every page and handed it off to Jonathan.


Jonathan is selling his prints on a sliding scale depending on which manuscript page you get with it -- high numbers are cheaper -- and the one-of-a-kind super-premium offering is page one accompanied by a 100cm x 140cm special edition print that include the contact-sheets from the shoot (proceeds from this go to a local school raising money for new buildings).

I think that this is just too cool for words. Jonathan's a professional shooter who's also an artist, and the portrait shots are fantastic enough. But he's also experimenting with new business-models for photography that leverage, rather than fight, the Internet. I don't receive any of the money from this -- Jonathan did the work and sank in the capital, so it's his reward to reap.

Etsy: Photographs by Jonathan Worth

Blog: Giving things away Pt II


5 Responses to “Jonathan Worth’s copy-friendly photography business experiment”

  1. Angela Hunt says:

    Rock the hell on.

    As a fine art photographer, I'm also doing everything I can to not fight the internet. This is absolutely fabulous.

  2. [...] found Jonathon through the site of a writer, Cory Doctorow. The title of his post caught my eye, Jonathan Worth’s copy-friendly photography business experiment. And as I read further, one statement really made me take [...]

  3. [...] this way now. Jonathan Worth has been pursuing a fascinating project based on his portraits of Cory Doctorow, and VII is promoting discussions around these themes.  In the last couple of weeks we have seen [...]

  4. [...] this way now. Jonathan Worth has been pursuing a fascinating project based on his portraits of Cory Doctorow, and VII is promoting discussions around these themes. In the last couple of weeks we have seen new [...]

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