Unsplash Review (All You Need To Know + F.A.Q.)

If you are a serious or amateur photography, you may of heard about a new exciting website called Unsplash.com .

Unsplash is an exciting new platform where photographers from all around the world can share their completely free and professional photographs.

What’s even crazier is that these photographs are completely royalty free and without a creative commons licence! This means you can use these images for personal and commercial use. Adios boring stock image websites!

So if you follow on, I will break down what exactly Unsplash is all about, how you can use it for royalty free images and how you can get 100’00’s of views on your photos.

Lets get stuck in!

Unsplash Review (Get More Exposure + F.A.Q.)

What exactly is Unsplash?

In a nutshell, Unsplash is a dedicated free stock photography website where photographers can contribute their works under the Unsplash licence. This allows anyone to use these photos for non-commercial or commercial use.

Currently the Unsplash platform has 115,000 contributing photographers, a library or 830,000 images and receives 9.3 billion photo impressions per month.

Another way I like to think of Unsplash is like a combination between Flickr and Shutterstock. Let me explain…

In one way, it’s a great place to source images for your blog, business, commercial or advertising campaign. So in this instance, it’s a lot like a Shutterstock. However, you don’t have to pay any royalties. Nada. Zipo. It’s completely free!

On the other hand, Unsplash is also a great community of passionate photographers who share their serious jaw dropping photos. In this aspect, there are many parallels to Flickr where people can create boards, follow photographers and “up vote”.

Can I use Unsplash photos for free?

In short, YES. Unsplash’s licence allows their photos to be used for any commercial or non-commercial use. This means that you can use photos from the platform for such things as:

  • Advertising images
  • Instagram photos
  • Book covers
  • Design graphics 
  • YouTube thumbnails
  • Header images
  • Publication photos
  • Callenders
  • Art work

These are only some uses I can think of, but I’m sure there are plenty more. As another example, you can see the below image where someone has used my photo as an article featured image in a blog post. You can also view my portfolio here if you would like to see ☺️.

unsplash photo used in a blog example

To learn more about the Unsplash licence, you can view the below paragraph that’s pulled straight from their website.

More precisely, Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash.

This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.

Can anyone upload photos to Unsplash?

One great thing about Unsplash is that ANYONE can contribute to the platform. Regardless if you are just starting out with photography or have many years under your belt.

The only caveat to this, however, is that each photo will be screened for quality control before being shared publicly on the platform.

So if you are to upload any images to Unsplash, they have to be of high quality (minimum 5 megapixels) and in a .jpeg format only. As an example, an image with a resolution of 2500 x 2000 pixels is usually around 5Mb. So anything larger than that should do the trick.

Below is an interning perspective from a professional photographers point of view.

For myself personally, after uploading close to 20 images on the platform. I have only had one photo rejected because the sharpness was boosted in LightRoom which gave it a unnatural look.

The rest have of them have all been accepted with no problem at all.

Do you have to credit photographers from Unsplash

No you don’t. But out of courtesy to the original photographer, it as always appreciated when people do give credit when possible.

If you do decide to credit the photographer, I find it is best to add their name and a link back to their Unsplash page, or even better to their website if they have one.

I find that this acts as a good incentive for potential photographers who might be interested in the platform.

Can you sell photos from Unsplash?

According to the Unsplash Terms, they do restrict the sale of the original image as it is. This is only fair is it deters those who might want to gain from other peoples creativity.

However, you are able to resell images if they have been modified or incorporate new creative elements into the image. This for example could be a book cover with a colour filter, extra graphics and a title.

Who owns Unsplash & how did it start?

Unsplash was founded by entrepreneur Mikael Cho who was also in the process of starting his main company Crew.

Back in 2013, Mikeal was unable to find good quality and relevant stock images for his company. So he decided to capture them himself.

After a successful photoshoot, there were many left over images which Mikeal decided to share on Tumblr and allow people to use them for free.

This simple act of generosity has now led to Unsplash becoming one of the cornerstones in the photography community.

How does Unsplash earn money?

If you are a frequent visitor to Unsplash, you may have noticed that they don’t have any banner adds or overlay ads.

So its begs the question on how exactly they make money? Hosting millions of photos is not a cheap business after all.

As far as I can tell, Unsplash works in partnership with companies like MailChimp and SquareSpace to place a very discreet call to action ads on the homepage. See below.

unsplash advertising

It also seems that Unsplash only works with companies that would be relevant to photographers which is a nice touch.

Unsplash from a photographers perspective

Is it worth while to share your images for free?

To be honest, when I first shared my images on Unsplash, I wasn’t expecting much to happen. I just thought it would be cool to contribute some of my work online.

So after a few weeks went on, I decided to log back in and see if anyone had viewed my images. Yes a bit vain, but I couldn’t help my self.

To my surprise, one of my photos had received close to 10,000 views… My jaw was dropping. At most, I was only expecting 10-20.

unsplash statictics downloads views

As you can see from the above image, that one photo has gone on to receive 122,000 views alone and close to 800 downloads.

But how has my overall portfolio done on Unsplash? Lets have a look at some more numbers.

As of writing this, my images on the platform have accumulated just over 225,000 views and 1,835 downloads. Whats also interesting about these numbers is that I’m no professional photographer. This is just my hobby.

So if you have some more experience in this field, then you can expect to see some much higher numbers. I have seen hundreds of images on the platform which have gotten in excess of 1 million views for a single image!

So is Unsplash worth it for an aspiring or beginner photographer?

In my opinion, definitely yes!

How to get exposure from Unsplash?

While it feels great to give back to such a great community, it is also a great opportunity to get some exposure and maybe even some freelance work/ clients.

So how does one do this?

Hands down one of the best ways to get exposure on the platform, is to simply share more photos. If a potential client is browsing the platform and comes by your work, is is extremely easy for them to reach out to you via your chosen contact method.

Whether that be your personal website or Instagram.

unsplash photographer bio

Another way to get more exposure, or in this case credibility, you could simply do a reverse image search of your photos and see where they have ended up. I myself have done this and have been quite surprised to how my images have been used.

So now when you are pitching future clients, you can have some bragging rights and say your images have been used for x y and z. And you could even send them some links to where your work has been featured!

How to optimise your photos/ portfolio on Unsplash

Just like when writing a blog post or uploading a video to YouTube, or in this case, sharing an image. It is always best to optimise the piece of content so you can get as many eyeballs on your work as possible.

So when uploading your images to Unsplash, there are three main sections to be aware of.

The first being the tags sections where you can put in relevant, targeted and broad tags that may apply to your image. So by putting in concise and relevant keywords, you are giving a good indication to Unsplash on what exactly your image is about.

unsplash tag section

After you have completed the tags section, you will then be promoted to put in a title and a description. For this section, I try and be consistent and use the same tag in the title and then in the description.

So in this instance, if my photo was about a New Zealand snowy mountain, I would use New Zealand as my tag, then again use it in my title and then write a description on how I captured the image.

unsplash image description

Last but not least is to add in a location to your photo. Having the geo target location tagged to the photo will allow people to search the city/ country which can bring in more views to your photos.

Things to be aware of when using Unsplash

While Unsplash is praised by many, it is also ridiculed by some professional photographers who believe that it disvalues their expertise and creativeness. While I believe there is some merit to this, I also feel that there can be a balance between giving back to a community while also not having to share all of your work.

Also when using Unsplash, there are some grey areas to be aware of, especially when it comes to including people in your images. If any of your images with an individual is used for commercial purposes, you actually may be liable if you did not get a release form.

To learn more, you can see this video below.

Bottom line

Overall I believe that Unsplash is a great community website that allows photographers from all levels to share their creative photos like never before. While it’s not a perfect platform, I really do believe the positives far out way the negatives.

If you would like to learn more about photography, you can view my list on some of the best online photography courses!

If you have your own thoughts on Unsplash, I would love to hear about them below in the comment section. Thanks for reading!