Everybody loves free. And why not? Life is expensive, and photography is no different. I mean, it is so expensive that I made not one but two Awesome Photography Freebies lists. I get it. However, I want to make sure that you guys understand the difference between free and bought Digital Backgrounds so you can make the decision about which works best for your business.
Sidebar: I hope that you have been following along during my Digital Background blog series. I decided to host the series because I have had so many people express interest in my digital background store but they don’t really know the first thing about composites. I want to change that!
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What is the difference between free and bought Digital Backgrounds?
I know what your thinking. “Duh, I know the difference. One is free and the other I had to purchase.”
True. Very true but that is not the only distinction.
Let’s talk about free backdrops, shall we? I know a lot of people who go to different websites to get what they need for their composites. There is nothing wrong with that. However, a lot of them are unaware that there maybe a few conditions attached and that can cause problems down the road.
Most of the time, the creators of the free backgrounds have certain stipulations. That’s cool. This is their art. They have every right to limit what can be done with it but most people do not read the fine print before they hit download.
Pretty much all of the free digital backdrops you get is going to want arbitration such as most artists on Deviantart. Most of the artists there want credit (which is their right), and they want to know who is using their art and how it is being represented. Failing to provide credit on your composites can lead to artists claiming that you have stolen their work.
I don’t mind giving credit when credit is due. I do feel, however, that when I create a photo for a client it looks unprofessional to have to list all of the portions of the image that does not belong to me. It can also be tedious as well. I would have to keep up with every user and which image I used. Sometimes I use a lot of stock and keeping up with that information can be a little taxing.
Some artists do not allow commercial use of their digital background at all because they are giving it away for free. That means that you cannot use them to make images for your clients because you are selling that image to them. People can get into a lot of trouble for failing to realize that the stock is personal use only.
Free digital backgrounds aren’t bad. Not at all! I have used my fair share. There are so many generous artists out there who are happy to share their talents. I just urge those who use free digital backgrounds to make sure that they are aware of and following the terms of service. This will save both you and the artist some trouble down the road.
Sometimes buying your digital backgrounds or stock can save you some headaches or worries. Like with my shop, most shops selling digital backgrounds are selling them to photographers to use in their commercial work.
There may be limitations such as you can just sell them to your clients and not allow them to be used in advertising for another company, etc. That would depend on the terms of service from the artist you purchased the digital background from. However, the background can be used in your business for you and your clients.
There is also no worries about having to credit the store or photographer that you purchased the digital background from whenever you post or show your client’s image.
Most digital backdrops cannot, however, be sold as is. This means that you cannot make a tiny change to the backdrop, load it up to a digital marketplace like Etsy, and sell it to other photographers like it is your own.
Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between free and bought digital backgrounds, you can make an educated choice about which would work better for your business.
Are you only going to use it for personal work? Don’t mind giving credit and linking back to the artists? Free digital backgrounds would be a great choice for you.
Do you want to use the digital background for your clients? Do you want to not have to worry about getting in trouble with the artist for using their work commercially? Worried that giving arbitration to the artists when you share your image would look unprofessional? Don’t want to worry about keeping up with what artist goes with what stock? Buying digital backgrounds would probably be better for you and your business.
Have any questions? Feel free to contact me through the comments or shoot me an email.