A few months ago my mom told me about a friend’s daughter, Erica Brooks, who was completing an amazing, around the world year of travel and work with Remote Year (@remoteyear). Erica documented her adventures on the website UnraveledTravels.com. She works in media, design and marketing, and had setup a personal storefront using the website Society6.com so people could purchase prints as well as other products (like iPhone cases) using her digital photos. This afternoon and evening I selected 21 of my favorite photos, which I’d previously shared on Flickr, and created my own Society6 store (society6.com/wfryer). In this post, I’ll share a few things I learned in the process of creating this virtual storefront, and also reflect on the benefits as well as drawbacks of commercially sharing versus openly sharing (Creative Commons licensing) photos.

I’ve watched with interest as friends like Eric Langhorst (@elanghorst) and former scoutmaster Chod Hedinger have moved from amateur / hobbyist photographers to professional / semi-professional photographers offering their digital creations for sale. I’ve been sharing photographs on Flickr since 2005 almost exclusively with Creative Commons “attribution-only” licenses, and have really enjoyed (for the most part – no known catfishing uses yet) the ways other people have used and attributed their use of my photos. This 2014 remix was unfortunate, but overall my experiences with CC photo sharing have been very positive. I’m a big advocate for open digital sharing, especially among educators, but I know there is a relatively vibrant market for commercially sold teacher lessons (Teachers Pay Teachers@TpTdotcom) and a large group of commercial photographers paying their bills or supplementing income via digitally shared photos. As with other media and technology topics I’m interested in, I’m often open to ‘sandboxing’ a new tool or platform to see what I can learn and share that learning with others.

Society6.com appeals to me as a photographer and digital creative because of the variety of products it offers, the apparent high quality of their products, and since it was recommended by a family friend I trust. To create my own Society6 storefront and start offering products for sale, I had to verify my PayPal account with a $1 purchase after setting up my account. Each time I uploaded an image, Society6 asked me to verify I am the copyright owner of the image with the right to commercially use it. Setting up this website is a new way I’m “playing with media,” and creating a new sandbox where I hope to learn as well as share my own digital creations with others. I have shared over 45,000 photos on Flickr since 2005, which is a pretty overwhelming number of images. It’s both fun and potentially valuable for others to take some time and filter out what I consider to be my best photographs, and showcase them on my Society6 site.

Many of the pixel dimension requirements for Society6 products are pretty large, so I’m thankful my iPhone 6S natively shoots photos in a high resolution. Most of my Society6 products which require larger image resolutions are panoramic photos which I took with my iPhone, and therefore have more included pixels. These requirements make me look forward to an eventual iPhone upgrade. I have not ever jumped on the digital SLR bandwagon, although I loved my film-based Nikon SLR in high school and college. The opportunity to almost always have my camera in my pocket, and be able to use amazing apps like Pro HDR X on the go, have encouraged me to be an enthusiastic advocate for mobile photography as well as videography.

After I selected the 21 photos I wanted to upload and use on Society6, I changed the sharing license on Flickr for each image from CC-BY to CC-NC. This means instead of just providing attribution as a condition of re-using my photo, I’m also asking that people NOT commercially offer the image for sale. After posting all the images to Society6 and customizing options for each of the available products I wanted to offer for sale, I also added a back link in the Flickr description for each photo, so visitors could see how they could commercially purchase the image and products using the image if they find it on Flickr, or click on it from one of my blog posts (as you can do with most of the images embedded in this post, thanks to imagecodr.org.) Last of all, I added each image to a new Flickr album, so I can readily view the series on AppleTV or from a laptop.

Working for several hours with these images this afternoon and evening has me thinking a lot about digital signage. My favorite retail stores, from a digital signage standpoint, are Eddie Bauer and the Microsoft Store. Like these stores, someday I hope to have wall-sized screens in our home, not as much to show movies and videos but rather to show amazing and beautiful images of places we’ve been or places we’d like to go.

This is a vision for the classroom of the future also, by the way. As an elementary classroom teacher I always loved filling wallspace with posters of mountains, volcanoes, space scenes, and other images I found motivational or awe inspiring. Curating images and videos like I’ve done tonight makes me think about and remember how powerful images can be and how images can help define the feel and vibe of a space, including a classroom.

The last thing working with these images tonight has me thinking about is how much I want to go back to places like China and New Zealand, but this time with an even more capable iPhone camera! It’s wonderful to be able to document experiences in amazing places with digital media. We live in “the best day ever” for visual storytellers!


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On this day..

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Made with Love in Oklahoma City