If you are looking for high quality images to customize your website, there is no shortage of resources. There are stock photography sites for every need and price range (free included).
But photo licensing is not always simple. Commercial offers can be restrictive and difficult to understand. And even free photo websites have their risks. Not to mention the possibility of corporate takeovers, such as when Getty Images acquired Unsplash.
This can make web designers and site owners a little nervous. We want to make sure that the photos we add today do not cause copyright issues down the road. No one wants to get one of those threatening letters demanding a king’s ransom money for unauthorized use of an image.
Another solution is just up and running. WordPress Photo Directory aims to provide an image resource for the open web. It is a place where users download photos that can be used for any purpose. And there’s an opportunity to submit your work as well.
Today, we will take a quick look at the directory and discuss its potential for change.
An Open Source Approach to Stock Photography
Announced during Word State 2021, WordPress Photo Directory is an attempt by the platform to address the recent drop in open source media.
Earlier in the year, WordPress launched Creative Commons Search’s successor. Known as Openverse, the search engine makes several sites that offer images under different flavors of a Creative Commons license.
The difference here is that everything in the WordPress Photo Directory uses the most liberal of these licenses – CC0. This means that images can be used for any purpose, freely modified and redistributed.
The directory also relies on community submissions. If you have an attractive high quality photo that meets the guidelines, you can contribute to the project.
To be clear, you do not need to be a professional photographer or have access to expensive equipment. Everyone (including me really) is welcome to submit their work.
Potential for Impact
WordPress Photo Directory has the potential to be beneficial in a variety of ways. For one, it offers content creators a worry-free option to put photography on their Web site. And integration can be imagined within WordPress itself in the future, making the process of finding and adding images incredibly easy.
Similarly, theme authors can bundle images without having to deal with potential copyright issues. This has long been a sticking point, and themed displays often display images that were not included with the final product. This was due to disconnection with users. Because CC0 licensing allows redistribution, this long – term gap could eventually be closed.
The directory can be seen as another advantage to attract new users to WordPress. Some content management systems (CMS) offer integrated photo libraries – something that WordPress lacked. While probably not the most important deciding factor, every little bit helps.
Lastly, there is also something to be said for users who add photos. It is a simple way to install that does not require technical expertise. The more a person can contribute, the more likely they are to be invested in the project in the long run.
How Big will It Be as a Resource? That depends on what we do.
Will WordPress Photo Directory be a serious threat to stock photography services? It seems unlikely so far. But that’s not necessarily the point of service, either.
The early lists are attractive. Some may even be viewed as a “pro” level. However, it is unrealistic to expect professionals to give them the opportunity to pursue a career elsewhere and do their best work with an open source project.
We are also unlikely to see the same kind of depth as other stock photo stores. Some categories and concepts are likely to be missing. Again, this is okay.
For many bloggers and website owners, what is available in the WordPress Photo Directory will meet their needs. And if public participation is high, there will be plenty of high quality photos to choose from.
And that is perhaps the most exciting aspect of this project. We have an opportunity to make it a worthwhile resource. As WordPress itself has shown, great things happen when people come together. This directory could be another great example.